By Hal McCoy
The Cincinnati Reds showed some True Grit, displayed some gut-checking character Saturday night in jam-packed Great American Ball Park.
It was almost as if they said, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more.”
NOT ONLY DID they finally beat the Chicago Cubs, they ripped them asunder, 13-5.
Character? Well, the Cubs had not only beaten them five straight, they had made them look like the Bad News Bears.
In the first two games of this series, the Cubs outscored the Reds 24-1. Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter at them in a 16-0 embarrassment. The next night was another embarrassment, 8-1.
Then on Saturday night they were facing John Lackey, who brought a 3-and-0 record into the game.
And…the Cubs took a 1-0 early lead. The Reds, though, grabbed a 2-1 lead in the fourth, only to watch the Cubs barge back in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead.
THE WAY THE Cubs have manhandled the Reds that was enough to put discouragement into the Reds’ psyche.
Instead, they went offensively berserk in the sixth inning, hitting three home runs and scoring seven runs.
They started the inning with four straight hits — singles by pinch-hitter Tyler Holt and Zack Cozart and a three-run home run by Eugenio Suarez.
When Joey Votto singled Cubs manager Joe Maddon removed Lackey and replaced him with Trevor Cahill. And the mayhem continued.
After Brandon Phillips lined into a double play, the Reds started over. Jay Bruce walked, Devin Mesoraco poked a single to right field against an overshifted defense to the left and Adam Duvall unloaded a three-run homer. Over? Nope. Scott Schebler followed Duvall’s home run with one of his own, the third home run of the inning.
And the Reds had nine runs, more than they had scored total in their previous five straight losses to the Cubs.
EVEN WITH THE NOW 9-3 lead there was more gut-checking to do.
Reds starter Dan Straily pitched 4 2/3 innings and gave up three runs and four hits, but needed 97 pitches to get that far.
Blake Wood replaced him and pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
Then with the 9-3 lead, Caleb Cotham came into the game and promptly gave up two runs on three hits in the seventh and the Cubs were back to within four.
Gut check? The Reds immediately retrieved those two runs in the bottom of the inning against relief pitcher Neil when he walked Suarez and Votto pumped his second home run of the season into the right field seats for an 11-5 lead that stood up.
Cotham walked two in the eighth with a six-run lead and with two outs Tony Cingrani came in and walked Jason Heyward to fill the bases. Suarez saved mayhem by stopping Kris Bryant’s thunderbolt toward left field to stop the walk-a-thon.
So to put an exclamation point on this one-game reclamation project the Reds scored two more in the eighth to make it 13-5.
Cingrani finished the ninth with two strikeouts and for one night that gorilla that has been the Cubs was off the Reds’ backs.