By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Reds witnessed the Chicago Cubs’ version of Homer Bailey and it didn’t work out so well for the home nine.
Cubs starter Yu Darvish, to whom the Cubs are paying $25 million this year, entered Sunday afternoon’s game at Great American Ball Park with a 0-and-3 record and a 5.56 earned run average.
Homer Bailey, to whom the Reds are paying $21 million for his 1-and-5 record and 6.11 earned run average, sat in the dugout shade watching Darvish work — or, to be more precise, work over the Reds.
After spotting the Reds a one-run lead on two hits in the first inning, Darvish settled in to hold the Reds runless and hitless over the next five innings en route to a 6-1 victory.
So where has all the offense gone? It is hiding where the Reds can’t find it. They lost three of four to the Cubs in this series and the losses were 8-1, 10-0 and 6-1. In those three defeats the Reds collected two, three and three hits. Over 27 innings that’s two runs, eight hits and three terrible losses.
Somebody slipped a piece of paper on manager Jim Riggleman’s desk after the game, noting that in the four games the Reds had 16 hits.
“They dominated us in the series,” said Riggleman. “It’s a hot club. It’s a very good club and when you are playing a very good club that is playing good, it is going to be tough to win some games. And they pitched good,too.
“Somebody put this paper in front of me — the number of hits they gave up in the series — it was 16 in four games and I didn’t know it was that bad,” said Riggleman. “Maybe we’ll look back and say we were lucky to win a game in this series.”
The Reds’ only win was Saturday’s first game of a doubleheader, 5-4 in 11 innings when Billy Hamilton took a walk-off walk.
“The world is enamored with velocity from pitchers, but they threw three pitchers at us that really pitched a professional major-league style,” Riggleman added. “They really threw well. They had enough velocity, but they really pitched well.” That would be Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Yu Darvish.
After Joey Votto and Scott Schebler collected singles, the Reds didn’t have another hit until Votto’s two-out single in the eighth.
Reds starter Tyler Mahle was wrecked in the second inning by Cubs with local connections. First he walked University of Cincinnati product Ian Happ and then he gave up a home run to Middletown product Kyle Schwarber.
After Schwarber’s home run, Javier Baez drilled one five rows deep into the second deck, the first back-to-back home run eruption this season by the Cubs. It was the third time a Cincinnati pitcher gave up back-to-back home runs.
Baez, who has been accused of grandstanding and hot-dogging with bat flips and standing at home plate watch the majestic parabolas of his home runs, dropped his bat immediately and ran hard toward first base, even though he had to know he hit the ball hard enough for it to land in the Ohio River.
And that put Mahle into a 3-1 hole and made it comfortable for Darvish.
Darvish did survive a strange fourth inning. He walked Scott Schebler on four pitches with one out and then walked pitcher Tyler Mahle on four pitches with two outs. Billy Hamilton then swung at the first pitch and popped out to end the inning.
Cubs leadoff batter Ben Zobrist led off five innings during Saturday’s second-game 10-0 victory. He led off the fifth inning Sunday and pulled his second home run of the season, a shot right down the right field line for a 4-1 Chicago lead.
Both Darvish and Mahle bolted after five innings, turning proceedings over to the bullpen. Darvish gave up one run, two hits, walked three, hit two batters and struck out seven to gain his first victory this season.
Mahle’s six innings included four Cubs runs on seven hits — three of them home runs — two walks and six strikeouts en route to his sixth loss.
“The home runs were all on pitches that were not located well,” said Mahle. “The first home run (Schwarber) was a change-up and the second one (Baez) was a slider. You make those kinds of pitches to anybody and you are not going to have a good start.”
Wandy Peralta replaced Mahle in the seventh and the Cubs immediately stretched their lead to 6-1 with a pair of runs that were helped along by a leadoff walk and a throwing error by first baseman Joey Votto.
There was some extra-curricular activity in the seventh inning when umpire John Tumpane called Schwarber out on strikes to end the inning. Schwarber debated the call with raised voice and a belligerent attitude. Tumpane immediately ejected him and teammate Baez had to physically restrain the XXL Schwarber from perpetrating an assault.
While winning three of the four games in the series the Cubs scored six or more runs in all three wins. Over the last 43 games against the Reds, the Cubs have scored five or more runs 34 times and their record in those games is 30-4.
And the club set a dubious record by issuing 31 walks, the most for the franchise during a four-game series. Eight of those were intentional walks, five to Ian Happ and two to Kyle Schwarber.
“Some of those were intentional but, yeah, we walked too many,” said Riggleman.
Happ was on base 14 times in the four games, five on intentional walks and nine with hits, five for extra bases.