By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Home runs and walks. Walks and home runs. Cincinnati Reds pitchers give away both like Halloween candy and it has been a season-long epidemic.
And they way some of them have pitched they probably wish they could wear Halloween costumes to the mound.
It is, of course, a recipe for defeat and the Chicago Cubs ate it up Wednesday night, 9-3, in Great American Ball Park.
THE CUBS LED, 9-0, ENTERING THE bottom of the ninth when the Reds had a tiny bit of fun against relief pitcher Hector Rondon.
They hit three solo home runs. The first was hit by Joey Votto, his 33rd, and it prevented the Cubs from shutting out the listless Reds. Just to get into the swing of things, Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler also hit solo home runs — too little, too late.
It was No. 24 for Schebler and also No. 24 for Suarez, but 20 of his have come at home.
THE WALKS AND THE HOME RUNS THE Reds pitchers give up continue to stream live and is why they lead the league in both home runs given up and walks given up.
Charity begins at home — and for the Reds, it ends there, too.
Reds starter Asher Wojciechowski walked three in the first inning and two scored as the Cubs constructed a 3-0 lead in the first.
Then Wojo gave up a three-run home run to Middletown native Kyle Schwarber in the fourth. Wojo was replaced by rookie Alejandro Chacin, making his major league debut.
And the first hitter he faced, Tommy LaStella drilled a two-run home run — welcome to the big leagues, kid.
REDS PITCHERS, 28 DIFFERENT ONES so far this year, have given up 212 home runs and are on a steady trot to breaking their own major league record set last year (258). And they’ve walked 488.
MEANWHILE CUBS LEFT HANDER Mike Montgomery was a Mystery Theatre production to the Reds. He was plucked from the bullpen five days ago and plopped into the rotation to replace Jon Lester, who is on the disabled list.
Montgomery pitched six innings and gave up no runs, four hits, walked one and struck out four. He retired 11 of the last 12 Reds he faced and only one reached third base during his six innings.
IT DIDN’T GET ANY BETTER for the Reds after Montgomery left. Jason Wilson pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, Koji Uehara pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.
The three-homer barrage in the ninth was mere window dressing, with the shades already pulled down.
“The first inning with Asher set the tone,” said manager Bryan Price, referring to his three walks, one with the bases loaded to force in the first run.
“It is unusual for him to be off on his command, but he was missing up,” Price added. “He was pitching behind and that team will let you get behind. They wait for good pitches to hit.
“He walked three and gave up two hits for three runs in the first inning and threw 35 pitches, which was really taxing on him,” Price added. “Now he was down three runs and he gave up another run in the third to put him in a situation where he couldn’t give up any more runs, no margin for error. But he wasn’t able to contain Schwarber on that three-run homer.”
Said Wojo, now 3-3, “I just didn’t have much command and I didn’t give my team a chance and that was a pretty frustrating night. Giving them runs in the first inning certainly wasn’t the best way to start.”
CINCINNATI’S OTHER CALL-UP Wednesday was 27-year-old right hander Luke Farrell, a son of Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell. The Reds picked him up on waivers recently and as a starter at Class AAA Louisville he was 0-and-2 with a 19.06 ERA in two starts.
And in his one career major league start this year for the Kansas City Royals he pitched 1 2/3 innings and gave up seven runs, nine hits and four walks.
BUT IN HIS REDS DEBUT Wednesday he pushed a cork in the Chicago offense — three innings, no runs, one hit, two walks three strikeouts. Cubs leadoff hitter Jon Jay did hit two straight balls that were caught against the right field wall.
“I was able to watch some of Farrell’s debut with Kansas City on tape a month or so ago,” said Price. “I’m sure that didn’t go as well as he had hoped. But to come back and be given another chance and go three scoreless innings against the world’s champs is a nice way to get back in the big leagues.”