Nick Hoerner hit a go-ahead single in the sixth inning and the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen shut down the Cincinnati Reds in a testy 3-2 win on Saturday.
Hoerner drove in Javier Báez with one of his three hits, a two-out single to center field off reliever Sean Doolittle to complete Chicago’s rally from a 2-0 deficit and boost a team that had lost six of seven.
“It was very significant,” said Hoerner, who shook off an 0-for-4 game on Friday. “They had a strong pitcher on the mound. Close game, division rival, high emotions – it’s definitely significant for the morale of the team and what we can do in games like that.”
Rex Brothers (1-0) struck out all three batters he faced in the sixth, the first three of eight strikeouts piled up by five Cubs relievers over five innings.
The first two batters reached against Craig Kimbrel in the ninth before he regrouped to get the next three for his fifth save.
“There in the ninth we had a pitcher who has done this hundreds of times,” Reds manager David Bell said. “We were in a good position in the ninth but that doesn’t mean it is done.”
Cincinnati left-hander Amir Garrett struck out Anthony Rizzo with one out in the eighth and celebrated by punching himself in the chest several times, and he appeared to yell something in Rizzo’s direction. Báez yelled at Garrett from the dugout and Garrett took a few steps in that direction, prompting both benches and bullpens to empty.
“I really don’t know what happened with their team,” Bell said. “This is an emotional game and Amir has been struggling. I know Amir was talking to himself. He was emotional. I think they misinterpreted it. That’s what I saw. It is very difficult to stay good in this game. I know we try our best to not be concerned with how the other team reacts.”
No punches were thrown and there were no ejections.
“I think Garrett’s an emotional guy,” Cubs manager David Ross. “He hasn’t had the greatest start to the season. He struck out Anthony and was screaming and raging. That’s his character. He’s trying to fire himself up, because he’s not throwing that well right now.”
Reds starter Luis Castillo (1-3) lasted 5 1/3 innings with the help of two assists by right fielder Nick Castellanos and center fielder Nick Senzel’s diving catch of Kris Bryant’s sinking liner with Ian Happ on second to end the fifth.
Cubs starter Zach Davies escaped bases-loaded jams in the third and fourth. Davies struck out Eugenio Suárez with a changeup to end the third and coaxed Castellanos into a routine groundout to finish the fourth. The only runs Davies allowed were scored by Cincinnati’s first two batters of the game.
The slumping Suárez struck out to end three innings.
Third baseman David Bote’s throwing error on Castellanos’s infield hit opened the door for Cincinnati’s two-run first inning. Davies drove in Hoerner with Chicago’s first run on a safety squeeze in the third. Bote doubled with two outs in the fourth and scored the tying run on Jason Heyward’s single.
Ian Happ ended a 0-for-15 slump with a sixth-inning single. He finished 1 for 14.
STAY WITH IT
Castellanos misplayed Happ’s single to right with Eric Sogard on first in the fifth, but avoided being charged with an error by recovering in time to throw to Suárez, whose relay to third was in time for Mike Moustakas to tag out Sogard.
Castellanos earned another assist when he threw out Heyward at the plate trying to score what would have been the go-ahead run on Hoerner’s single to end the fourth. Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson made the tag, and the call stood after a replay review that lasted 1 minute, 25 seconds.
Cubs: Brothers was visited on the mound by Ross and a trainer after striking out Moustakas for the second out in the fifth. Brothers stayed in the game.
Reds: Tyler Naquin and Kyle Farmer were each hit by a pitch — Farmer on his right elbow. Both stayed in the game.
Cubs: RHP Trevor Williams (2-2) will make his 15th career appearance against Cincinnati, his first for Chicago. He is 6-3 with a 3.50 ERA.
Reds: Left-handed batters are 5 for 54 (.093), all singles, against RHP Tyler Mahle (1-1) this season.