The Cincinnati Reds scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning for the second straight game, beating the visiting Chicago Cubs 2-1 on Saturday night.
With the Reds trailing 1-0, Jake Fraley led off the ninth against Cubs reliever Mark Leiter Jr. (1-3) with a double, and pinch runner Harrison Bader stole third. After TJ Friedl walked and Spencer Steer was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Elly De La Cruz singled home the tying run.
Leiter got a flyout for the first out and was pulled for Jose Cuas. Hunter Renfroe, like Bader a recent waiver wire pickup, grounded into a walk-off fielder’s choice by barely beating the throw to first for a double play as the Reds won for the third time in four games.
Cincinnati (71-67) came into Saturday’s National League Central matchup three games behind second-place Chicago (72-64) in the division and a game behind Arizona and San Francisco in the wild-card race.
The win also assured the Reds a season series win over the Cubs and an accompanying tiebreaker between the teams if needed in the postseason picture.
Despite getting seven hits and a walk off of Cubs starter Javier Assad, the Reds could not scratch through a run in his eight innings. Assad struck out seven and left with a 1-0 lead courtesy of Jeimer Candelario’s seventh-inning home run.
Candelario’s blast was the lone blemish for Cincinnati starter Andrew Abbott, who struck out five and limited Chicago to four hits and two walks over 6 1/3 innings.
The Cubs had an opportunity to tack on insurance runs in the top of the ninth when Sam Moll (1-3), credited with the win, faced Nick Madrigal with runners on second and third. But Moll induced a groundout to keep the Reds deficit at one run.
De La Cruz’s single capped a 3-of-4 day. Fraley and Steer each had two hits for the Reds. The Cubs finished with five hits off three Cincinnati pitchers. Cincinnati also assured itself no worse than split of the critical four-game series.
–Field Level Media