By HAL McCOY
Raisel Iglesias is like a resuscitator for the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, more than a breath of fresh air for baseball’s worst bullpen.
When starter Brandon Finnegan couldn’t protect a five-run lead because he gave up four home runs in five innings against the Chicago Cubs Tuesday afternoon, Iglesias rode to the rescue.
Iglesias, making only his fourth appearance of the season after spending most of it on the disabled list, protected a two-run lead for three innings and the Reds pulled away, 9-5, only their second win in 12 games this year against the Cubs.
AND IT IS A COMFORT ZONE for Iglesias, the Cuban-born right hander. He worked out of the bullpen while pitching in Cuba, but when the Reds signed him they envisioned him as a starter.
He was a starter last year and was the Opening Day starter this year until shoulder problems intervened early in the season and he lapsed onto the disabled list.
When he came off manager Bryan Price plopped him in the bullpen to ease him back onto the mound and said, “That doesn’t mean he won’t be in the rotation next year.”
Iglesias, though, recently said he likes the bullpen and would eventually like to be the team’s closer.
HE ENTERED TUESDAY’S GAME in the sixth inning with the Reds leading, 7-5. Cubs 39-year-old catcher David Ross dropped a bunt and beat it to open the sixth and Iglesias hit pinch-hitter Jeimer Candelerio with a pitch.
That put two on with no outs, but Iglesias retired Javier Baez on a popped up bunt attempt, Ben Zobrist flied to left and the ever-dangerous Kris Bryant struck out.
Iglesias gave up a leadoff single to Anthony Rizzo in the seventh, but he retired the next two, walked Jason Heyward, then coaxed a pop-up from pinch-hitter Miguel Montero.
Then he topped off his three innings by pitching a 1-2-3 eighth.
THE REDS GAVE FINNEGAN a 5-0 lead by scoring two in the first, two in the second and one in the third against Chicago starter John Lackey.
Billy Hamilton, batting second in the order, walked in the top of the first and stole second. When Cubs catcher David Ross committed a passed ball and the baseball rolled to the wall behind home plate, Hamilton scored all the way from second.
Joey Votto, who walked three times, hit a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring double, reached third on the passed ball after his first walk, and scored on a single by Brandon Phillips to give the Reds a 2-0 lead.
EUGENIO SUAREZ OPENED THE second with a single and scored on Zack Cozart’s two-run home run, his second two-run homer in two days and his 13th of the season to push the advantage to 4-0.
It became 5-0 in the third when Lackey, who walks about two batters game, issued his fifth walk with two outs to Suarez and Ramon Cabrera doubled him home.
So there it was — a 5-0 lead in the third for Finnegan. He couldn’t withstand the prosperity, but thanks to Iglesias he was awarded the victory.
He gave up three home runs in the bottom of the third and four runs.
Javier Baez started the inning with a home run. With one out, Kris Bryant homered, his ninth against the Reds this season. Finnegan then walked Anthony Rizzo and with two outs Addison Russell crushed a two-run home run and it was 5-4.
The Reds retrieved one run in the fourth on Votto’s sacrifice fly to make it 6-4 but Finnegan gave up another home run in the fifth, the second of the game by Russell.
It was the 31st home run hit by the Cubs against the Reds in 12 games and after the inning Finnegan was done — five innings, five runs, five hits (four of them homers), four walks and four strikeouts.
THE REDS MADE IT 7-5 in the seventh, once again on the fleet feet of Hamilton. He blooped a ball just off the second baseman’s glove and blew into second with a 100-foot double. Then he stole third, his third steal of the game, and scored on Votto’s double.
Iglesias guarded that two-run lead for three innings like a well-trained German Shepherd and Jay Bruce gave Tony Cingrani some comfort zone.
Bruce cracked a two-run home run in the top of the ninth off Pedro Strop, his 18th home run and 62nd RBI when he was struggling under a 3 for 25 slump.
Tony Cingrani pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and the Reds broke a five-game losing streak tothe mighty Cubs.
Cozart, on a hitting binge after a 1 for 29, skid, had two hits, drove in two and scored two. Hamilton was 2 for 3 with a walk, scored two runs and stole three bases. Votto was 1 for 1 with three walks, a run-scoring double and a sacrifice fly.