By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — If ever the Cincinnati Reds were going to beat Jake Arrieta this year, Monday night should have been the night. The Chicago Cubs’ 11-game winner, the guy who pitched a no-hitter against the Reds the last time he was on the Great American Ball Park mound, was off his game on a steamy night on the banks of the Ohio River.
Arrieta’s line: five innings, five runs, four hits, five walks. For Arrieta, that’s awful. And he didn’t lose. He won, 11-8.
UNFORTUNATELY FOR THE REDS, Cubs third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant went batting berserk — three home runs (two into the upper deck in left field), two doubles, four runs scored and six driven in. Bryant’s 16 total bases is a franchise record. And he is the first player in major-league history to have three home runs and two doubles in one game.
Those numbers are way beyond anything Ernie Banks or Dave Kingman or Hack Wilson or Hank Bauer or Ron Santo ever amassed in one game for a Cubs team.
Somebody asked Reds manager Bryan Price after the game, “What did you think of Bryant?” Price recalled a long ago incident when Chicago’s Dave Kingman did something close to the same thing to the Los Angeles Dodgers. LA manager Tommy Lasorda was asked, “What did you think of Dave Kingman?” He erupted into a long stream of F-bombs and expletives for his answer.
“That’s like the Dave Kingman-Tommy Lasorda question, isn’t it?” said Price “That’s a real stunner of a question. Three homers. Two doubles. So instead of tearing this place down and going after you (the inquisitor) I’m just going to acknowledge the fact that he had a great day.”
AND BRYANT WASN’T The Lone Ranger. The Cubs were on a hit spree.
“I counted 20 balls that the Cubs hit hard and that’s a lot,” said Price. “That’s a lot for two games. We had eight hits, six walks and eight runs. That’s enough to win a ballgame. Tonight it wasn’t. The Cubs had their hitting shoes on and they did a lot of damage — five homers, eight extra base hits, 11 runs, 17 hits, 20 balls on the numbers. That isn’t going to play too well toward winning a ballgame.”
Bryant’s brutal blasts more than covered Arrieta’s sins and the Cubs won going away in front of an ocean of blue-clad Cubs fans, far outnumbering and outshouting the Reds fans in the crowd of 31,762. In fact, after Bryant hit his third home run the crowd demanded a curtain call out of the dugout.
It was to acknowledge his five extra base hits in one game — only the third time it has been done. Both Josh Hamilton and Joe Adcock had four home runs and a double in one game.
ALSO UNFORTUNATELY FOR the Reds, Dan Straily was even farther off his game than Arrieta.
Straily’s line: 3 2/3 innings, seven runs, nine hits. He gave up two home runs to Kris Bryant and a run-scoring double — five RBIs for Bryant against Straily.
“Just terrible execution on my part, the whole night,” said Straily. “Just an off night. I’d try to throw a ball down-and-away and miss up-and-in. I’d try to throw a slider down-and-in and threw it right down the middle. Throwing too many pitched up in the zone cost me, really hurt me. Bryant did what good hitters do to bad pitches. They do heavy damage to them.”
Fortunately for Arrieta, the Cubs score in bunches when he pitches, averaging more than seven runs a game for him, best support for a pitcher in the National League.
So, after the Cubs victory, Arrieta escaped with a victory, pushing his record to 12-and-2, a victory the Cubs needed desperately after losing seven of their previous eight games.
IT WAS EVIDENT BEFORE the sun even went down that this was not an artful Arrieta. His team gave him a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Bryant’s run-scoring double and Miguel Montego’s sacrifice fly.
He gave it right back in the bottom of the first with a pair of walks and a two-out, two-run double by Adam Duvall.
Bryant gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead in the third with his first home run of the game and the Reds tied it, 3-3, in the bottom of the third on Jay Bruce’s two-out, run-scoring single.
The Cubs scored four times in the fourth, most of them on Bryant’s second home run of the game, a ball hit into the upper deck 444 feet from home plate, a three-run rip that landed into next week. That made it 7-3.
AMAZINGLY, ARRIETA WASN’T pitching up to snuff, but he was hitting like a position player. He singled and scored on Bryant’s second home run in the fourth. In the fifth he homered over the right field wall to give himself an 8-3 lead.
It wasn’t enough for him to survive.
He walked Billy Hamilton to open the fifth, his fifth walk, and Joey Votto homered into the right field seats. It was Votto’s second extra base hit in his last 65 plate appearances and his first home run since June 4.
At the end of the fifth Arrieta was gone and the Reds extracted a run from relief pitcher Trevor Cahill in the sixth on a leadoff walk to Jose Peraza, a stolen base and Tucker Barnhart’s double, cutting Chicago’s lead to 8-6.
The Reds scored another run in the seventh off former teammate Travis Wood and Pedro Strop. Wood gave up a one-out double to Duvall. Strop replaced Wood and Duvall scooted to third on a fly ball and scooted home on a wild pitch and it suddenly was a one-run Chicago lead, 8-7.
THAT COMEBACK WAS QUICKLY thwarted in the Cubs eighth when Bryant struck for his third home run, a bat-ringing drive into the far reaches of the park against Ross Ohlendorf. And Ohlendorf’s next pitch also left the park, a home run by Anthony Rizzo to make it 10-7.
The Cubs scored another run, an unearned one, in the top of the ninth and Votto homered for the second time in the bottom of the ninth to bring the run barrage to 19, but only eight for the Reds.
After all the wreckage and carnage Bryant did, Price remembered one pitch that said it all, a fastball thrown to Arrieta by Michael Lorenzen.
“Arrieta hit a 100 miles an hour fastball out of the ball park,” said Price. “They were just on it tonight. And we weren’t, from a pitching standpoint.”