By HAL McCOY
The Milwaukee Brewers want to send a message to Cincinnati Reds manager Jim Riggleman: “What are you trying to do to us?”
For the second straight game in Wrigley Field against the division-leading Chicago Cubs, Riggleman pulled his starting pitcher when that pitcher was throwing a shutout.
And for the second straight time the Reds bullpen spoiled the proceedings and lost the game.
It resonates negatively in Milwaukee, where the second-place Brewers are 1 ½ games behind the Cubs and could have used a couple of victories from the Reds over the Cubs.
Cody Reed pitched five innings and gave up no runs, only two hits and dazzled the Cubs with a dancing slider that he turned into 10 strikeouts, a career best. For Reed, who is 1-and-10 for his career with the Reds, it was the best-pitched game of his just-budding career. And yet the Reds are 1-and-15 in the 16 games he has started for them.
The Cubs scored a run in the sixth inning off Sal Romano, the game’s only run, and a 1-0 Chicago victory.
On Friday, Matt Harvey pitched six shutout innings and was taken down with a 2-0 lead. David Hernandez gave up a three-run home run in the seventh to Ian Happ and the Reds lost, 3-2.
While the 25-year-old Reed couldn’t go deeper than five innings, 34-year-old Chicago starter Jon Lester, making his 30th start this season, pitched seven shutout innings.
Like Reed, he gave up only two hits and both were infield hits. The Reds hit only two fly balls to the outfield against Lester.
Amazingly, Lester went to 3-and-2 counts nine times and only three of those reached base — two walks and an infield hit by Jose Peraza. The other six made outs.
With the win, Lester is 16-and-6 this season and is 7-and-1 for his career against the Reds. And the Cubs are 14-and-2 in games against the Reds started by Lester.
After Reed left, Romano gave up an infield hit up the middle to Javier Baez to open the sixth. He moved to second on a ground ball and Romano struck out Addison Russell for the second out.
He went to a full count against Willson Contreras before he stuck out his bat and punched a run-scoring single to right field.
The Reds beat chance to score was in the sixth when Billy Hamilton walked on a full count with one out. On Lester’s first pitch, he stole second, the first Reds hitter to discover second base.
On Lester’s next pitch, Hamilton strangely broke for third and was called safe. But a replay/review took about 20 seconds and he was called out.
Joey Votto walked on a full count to open the seventh, Lester’s second walk of the game. But Eugenio Suarez struck out on a full count and Phillip Ervin hit into an inning-ending double play.
Justin Wilson replaced Lester in the eighth and Dilson Herrera popped a bunt base hit down the third base line with one out. Pinch-hitter Scott Schebler struck out and pinch-hitter Curt Casali popped to second.
Scooter Gennett, taking the day off, batted for Hamilton to open the ninth against Jesse Chavez and flied to the base of the wall in left. Jose Peraza singled, his second hit. He is on a 10-game hitting streak and has more than one hit in seven of those games.
Left hander Randy Rosario came in to pitch to Joey Votto and Votto drove one to the base of the wall in center field for the second out. Cub manager Joe Maddon then brought in right hander Steve Cishek to face Suarez and he made one pitch. Suarez grounded to first to end another frustrating day for the Reds.
The series ends Sunday afternoon with Luis Castillo going against Jose Quintana. Then the Reds moved to Milwaukee for a three-game series beginning Monday.
And on Tuesday, Michael Lorenzen makes his first start of the season, replacing Tyler Mahle, who is having shoulder issues.
Riggleman is giving Lorenzen what he wants and said, “Mike has come into my office about a dozen times this year asking me if he could start a game. Now he is getting that chance.”