By HAL McCOY
The Cincinnati Reds scored nine runs in the second inning Thursday afternoon in Wrigley Field, their biggest inning of the season. They led the Chicago Cubs, 9-0.
In baseball vernacular, the game should have been a laugher, an easy win during which everybody but the Cubs have fun.
It nearly turned into tears, a crier.
The Cubs whacked their way back, hitting six home runs, four in one inning against Reds starter Scott Feldman and tied it 9-9.
THANKS, THOUGH, TO UNHERALDED and unsung rookie Phillip Ervin, the Reds survived, 13-10.
During the nine-run second inning, Ervin batted twice and had a single and a double and drove in two runs.
Then, when it was 9-9 in the seventh, relief pitcher Justin Grimm walked Eugenio Suarez and Ervin ripped his second home run in two days, giving the Reds an 11-9 lead the protected, barely, to the end.
ERVIN, A NO. 1 DRAFT PICK in 2013 who has languished in the minor league system, was called up Wednesday and hit a home run, his first major league hit.
On Thursday, he was on base four times with a single, double, home run and a walk and he drove in four and scored three.
And his head took a beating. He crashed head first into the right field bricks chasing a fly ball. And he was hit in the head at second base on a pickoff throw. But he wasn’t about to leave this game.
THE REDS SCORED THEIR NINE runs in the second against Cubs starter Jon Lester. The first four Reds singled without hitting the ball hard.
Adam Duvall blooped one to right, Eugenio Suarez blooped a broken bat single to left. Scooter Gennett blooped a single to right to load the bases.
Ervin dropped a broken bat run-scoring single to left and it was 2-0.
The next two Reds made outs, but they scored seven more runs. Billy Hamilton walked on a full count. Jose Peralta singled to center to make it 4-0. Then came the first hard-hit ball, a three-run home run by Joey Votto and it was 7-0.
Adam Duvall reached on third baseman Kris Bryant’s error and Suarez doubled him home. Scooter Gennett walked and Ervin doubled for another run and a 9-0 lead.
CUBS STARTER JON LESTER THREW six pitches to go 1-2-3 in the first inning. The he threw 40 pitches in the second and finally signaled the dugout to come and get him because he had a sore lat muscle.
Reds starter Scott Feldman, nursing a bad knee, couldn’t make it stand.
He gave up a home run to Ian Happ in the second. He pitched a 1-2-3 third but the fourth was a major train wreck.
Feldman gave up four home runs, a leadoff shot by Kris Bryant. After a double by Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs launched three in a row — Alex Avila, Ian Happ again, and Javier Baez. And it was 9-6.
MICHAEL LORENZEN PITCHED THE fifth and gave up three runs, including a home run on his first pitch of the inning to Middletown native Kyle Schwarber, Chicago’s sixth homer of the game.
He hit Bryant on a full-count pitch and doubles by Anthony Rizzo and Alex Avila tied it, 9-9.
That’s the way it stood until Ervin’s two-run home run in the seventh. The Cubs drew to within 11-10 in the bottom of the seventh on Ben Zobrist’s triple and a sacrifice fly.
The Reds, though, added a run in the eighth without a hit — two walks and a fielder’s choice, and Ervin made it 13-10 by sprinting home from second on an infield hit.
The Cubs outhit the Reds, 13-12, and of the 13 hit, nine were for extra bases (six homers, two doubles, one triple). But Cubs pitchers walked eight and Reds pitchers only walked two.
The last time the Reds blew a nine-run lead and still won was August 24, 2010, when they led the Giants, 10-1, and eventually won, 12-11.