WHICH WAS THE biggest disaster in Chicago history, The Great Chicago Fire or the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre or the Cincinnati Reds trying to win a baseball game in Wrigley Field?
On Thursday night, Raisel Iglesias was not the answer. The question: Could the Cincinnati Reds’ best starting pitcher the first two times through the rotation put a tourniquet on the bleeding.
No, he couldn’t. He wasn’t awful, not even bad. But he gave up three runs in five innings and it was enough to absorb a defeat, the third straight handed the Reds by the Chicago Cubs.
ALTHOUGH CUBS STARTER Jason Hammel gave up four hits and four walks in six innings, the Reds couldn’t break through for a run. Nor could they navigate their way through the Cubs bullpen and lost, 8-1.
When Billy Hamilton leads the game with a walk, good things usually happen. Hammel gave up 15 stolen bases in 18 attempts last season and his move to first base is pedestrian.
But he picked off Hamilton. And it was downhill from there for the Reds, now 5-and-4 and after a 5-and-1 start.
KRIS BRYANT PUT the Cubs on the board when he ripped a second-inning solo home run, his second home run in two nights. The second Cubs run came on a double by pitcher Hammel to make it 2-0 in the fifth and a sacrifice fly by Ben Zobrist that scored Hammel in the same inning to push it to 3-0.
Down only 3-0 after seven, manager Bryan Price decided that closer J.J. Hoover needed some work and brought him in for the eighth.
And the Cubs swept him right off the field. He retired the first hitter, then gave up three walks and two hits for four runs before Price mercifully pulled him.
To add ignominy to the mess, Jumbo Diaz came in to face Jason Heyward. He hit a shallow fly ball to right and Jay Bruce made a sliding catch. He then jumped to his feet and threw to first base in hopes of a double play.
THERE WAS A major problem. Nobody was covering first base. First baseman Joey Votto was halfway between first and home to cut off a throw, if necessary. So Bruce’s throw to nobody ended up as an error as another run scored to make it 8-0.
After Hammel left, former Reds pitcher Travis Wood pitched a 1-2-3 seventh and Pedro Strop pitched a 1-2-3 eighth to preserve the 3-0 lead.
After the Cubs scored five in the eighth, manager Joe Maddon didn’t call on closer Hector Rondon for the ninth.
HE SENT IN Justin Grimm and the Reds avoided a shutout when Jay Bruce singled for his second hit, Adam Duvall doubled and Bruce scored on Tucker Barnhart’s ground ball.
Joey Vot had one of the Reds six hits, but incredibly through the first nine games he is still looking for his first extra base hit — no homers, no doubles, no triples.
The Reds hopped a late night charter after the game for a short flight to St. Louis, where they begin a three-game series in Busch Stadium Friday night.