By HAL McCOY
The Cincinnati Reds scratched, clawed and gouged at the Chicago Cubs Wednesday night.
In the end, they lost it, unbelievably, on a walk-off wild pitch by Blake Wood in the bottom of the ninth inning, 7-6.
Wood had two outs with runners on third and second. But his first pitch to Kris Bryant, a slider low, wide and ugly bounced off lunging catcher Tucker Barnhart and Javier Baez scored standing up.
Amazingly, it was the second time on this trip the Reds lost on a walk-off wild pitch, a wild one thrown by Tim Adleman in Milwaukee.
WHAT WAS SO PAINFUL to the Reds was that they trailed by five runs with two outs and nobody on in the seventh inning.
Usually, when that’s the case for the Reds in Wrigley Field they can pack up the gear early and go back to the hotel for a midnight snack.
But the Reds scored three in the seventh and two in the eighth to tie the game, 6-6.
And it began when Phillip Ervin, just called up from Class AAA Louisville earlier in the day, ripped a two-out home run with two outs in the seventh, his first major league hit.
That made it 6-2 and Billy Hamilton followed the home run with an infield single and Zack Cozart crushed his 17th home run to make it 6-4.
THEN IN THE EIGHTH Eduardo Suarez led with a double. Adam Duvall, pinch-hitting on this night, drove his first-ever home run in Wrigley to tie it, 6-6.
Wandy Peralta, who walked the first two batters he faced Tuesday night, gave up a double to Javier Baez to open the ninth. That brought up pinch-hitter Jon Jay. He faced Peralta Tuesday and tried to bunt, but Peralta walked him. The same thing happened Wednesday. Jay, pinch-hitting, was sent up to bunt but Peralta walked him.
Then came some controversy. Ben Zobrist tried to bunt and was hit by the pitch. But first base umpire Chris Conley said Zobrist tried to bunt the pitch and it was a strike.
Manager Joe Maddon was ejected arguing the call. But Zobrist then dribbled one up the third base line to advance the runners to third and second.
MANAGER BRYAN PRICE BROUGHT in Blake Wood and he struck out Albert Almora Jr. for the second out. But his first pitch to Bryant was wild and a game-ender.
It was a good-bad night for Reds starter Homer Bailey. The Reds gave him a 1-0 lead in the first, but it should have been much more because the Reds had the bases loaded with no outs.
One run scored on a sacrifice fly by Eugenio Suarez and Zack Cozart moved to third. Scooter Gennett flied to left and for some reason Cozart, still slowed by his quad problem, tagged and tried to score but Kyle Schwarber threw him out.
Then came the bottom of the first and Bailey gave up two singles and a walk to the first three Cubs. The walk was to Bryant and what appeared to be a perfect strike.
PERHAPS UNNERVED BY THE missed call, Bailey’s next pitch was right down the middle and Anthony Rizzo ripped it for a grand slam home run and a 4-1 lead.
The Reds had runners on third and second with no outs in the second and the bases loaded with two outs and didn’t score against John Lackey. With runners on third and second and no outs, Lackey fell behind Tucker Barnhart 3-and-0, but he popped up to second base.
Before that, Barnhart had 3-and-0 counts 28 times this year and walked all 28 times. This time he swung and popped it up.
AFTER THAT THEY HAD only one single over the next four innings against Lackey. Bailey gave up two more runs. Over 5 2/3 innings he gave up six runs, seven hits, five walks and struck out 10. After Rizzo’s grand slam, Bailey struck out five of the next six Cubs.
Joey Votto singled in the first inning, but it was the only time he reached bases and his streak of reaching base two or more times in a game was stopped at 20, one game shy of tying the major league record set by Ted Williams in 1948.
Votto flied to the wall in the third, lined one hard to the mound that Lackey snagged in the fifth and grounded out to first to end the seventh. And he was on deck when Zack Cozart flied to right to end the top of the ninth.
There were three day games Wednesday that ended with a 7-6 score and unfortunately for the Reds they participated in the fourth 7-6 game and they had the 6.