Reds and Cubs Go Batty at HoHoKam
Darwin Barney reached base five times on three singles and two walks, Starlin Castro slugged a three-run home run, and Carlos Pena ripped a double and two singles, but it wasn't quite enough, as the Cincinnati Reds outslugged the Cubs 14-13 in Cactus League action before a capacity crowd of 13,186 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in warm and sunny Mesa, Az, this afternoon.
Carlos Zambrano got the start for the Cubs and worked 4.2 IP, allowing six runs (all six earned) on seven hits (including two doubles and two HR) and two walks, striking out four, while throwing 77 pitches (52 strikes), with a 3/4 GO/FO.
The Cubs used a DH today, apparently because the plan was to "piggyback" Zambrano and Carlos Silva, with each pitcher throwing about 75 pitches over four or five innings. By using a DH, the Cubs could keep Silva in the game through the top of the 9th without having to wreck a potential late scoring opportunity by having to let Silva hit in a key spot.
Zambrano retired four of the first five men he faced and initially looked very strong, striking out Drew Stubbs, Joey Votto, and Jay Bruce in their first ABs. But then Jonny Gomes lined a double into left-center with one out in the 2nd and scored on a Ryan Hanigan broken bat RBI single to give the Reds a 1-0 lead.
The Cubs came back in the bottom of the 2nd inning against Reds starter RHP Sam LeCure, taking a 2-1 lead. Carlos Pena roped a double into left-center, and moved up to 3rd base on a Geovany Soto single. After Alfonso Soriano popped out, Blake DeWitt picked-up an RBI on a 3-6 FC that probably should have been an inning-ending 3-6-1 DP (bad throw to 2nd base after a diving stop by Joey Votto). Darwin Barney grounded a two-out single to right that moved DeWitt to 3rd, and then Tyler Colvin hit a ground rule double to deep left-center to drive-in DeWitt as the ball bounced off the warning track and over the fence, forcing Barney to return to 3rd base (he otherwise would have scored easily). Both Barney and Colvin were left stranded when Starlin Castro flied out for the third out.
The Reds took the lead in the top of the third. Brandon Phillips doubled with one out, and after Joey Votto walked on four pitches (Zambrano appeared to get squeezed on all four balls), Scott Rolen ripped the first pitch he saw high over the LF fence to the base of the scoreboard for a three-run HR that gave the Reds a 4-2 lead.
The Cubs came right back in the bottom of the third, however, as Marlon Byrd, Aramis Ramirez, and Carlos Pena each rifled line-drive singles, with Byrd scoring on the Pena safety. After Geovany Soto popped out, Alfonso Soriano launched an RBI double off the CF Batter's Eye (Green Monster) in dead center about 425 feet from home plate, scoring Ramirez and sending Pena to 3rd. Blake Dewitt came through with a SF to score Pena, and then after Soriano advanced on a WP, Darwin Barney ripped an RBI single to left to score Soriano and give the Cubs a 6-4 lead.
Zambrano then settled down and retired five in a row, but he allowed a 5th inning lead-off single and one out later, a Joey Votto game-tying two-run moonshot HR over the RF fence to the base of the Party Pavillion. But the Cubs untied the game in the bottom of the 5th against Reds RHRP Jared Burton, as Darwin Barney and Tyler Colvin stroked one out singles, and Starlin Castro crushed a three-run HR far over the left-centerfideld fence just to the left of the CF Batter's Eye.
Carlos Silva entered the game at the start of the 6th, and was hammered right from the gitgo, immediately allowing back-to-back doubles (Gomes and Hanigan), and then after inducing a ground out and striking out the pitcher, three consecutive RBI singles that gave the Reds a 10-9 lead.
Jay Bruce mashed a lead-off double in the top of the 7th but did not score, as Silva got a fly out and a 6-4-3 GIDP (following a walk). But he was not as fortunate in the top of the 8th, as the Reds scored four more runs on five singles packed around a costly Matt Camp E-6 on what could have been a DP ball.
Silva was battered in his three innings of work, allowing eight runs (five earned) on 11 hits (three doubles and eight singles), allowing one walk, while throwing 67 pitches (49 strikes), with a 4/4 GO/FO. As usual he threw a high precentage of strikes (73% today), "pitching to contact" with hittable strikes most batters only get to see in batting practice.
Trailing 14-9, the Cubs mounted a rally in the bottom of the 8th against Cincinnati LHP Matt Maloney, as Welington Castillo, Reed Johnson, and Blake Dewitt roped consecutive one-out singles (Castillo's hit a line drive back through the box that almost took Maloney's head off, and DeWitt's an RBI hit). Darwin Barney walked to load the bases, Kosuke Fukudome singled to drive-in one run, and then Matt Camp plated the third and final run of the inning with an RBI ground out.
Cubs RHRP Marcos Mateo made his first game appearance in 12 days, working a 16-pitch scoreless 9th, walking one and striking out two. Mateo looked very sharp considering his recent lack of game reps.
Down 14-12 and facing LHP Jeremy Horst, the Cubs were able to get the tying and winning runs on base with no outs in the bottom of the 9th. Scott Moore sliced a lead-off ground-rule double into the LF corner, and Jeff Baker followed the Moore double by rifling a line-drive single to CF on an 0-2 pitch, moving Moore up to 3rd. Welington Castillo then looped an RBI single into short RF to score Moore and send Baker to 2nd base. With the Reds expecting a bunt, Reed Johnson hit what looked like it might be a walk-off HR, a long fly down the LF line that curved foul at the last minute, before flying out for the first out of the inning. Blake DeWitt then flied out for the second out, but Darwin Barney drew a four-pitch walk, moving the potential tying run to 3rd base and the potential winning run to 2nd. But Kosuke Fukudome grounded out weakly 4-3 on the first pitch he saw, and the Reds left the field victorious.