In their previous nine games, Cincinnati’s opponents scored first in all nine games.
On Tuesday, though, the Reds scored two runs in the first inning on home runs by Jonathan India and Nick Castellanos.
The Reds hung on from there behind another strong and solid pitching performance by wily Wade Miley. He shut down the Cubs and their seven-game winning streak on one run, five hits, no walks and eight strikeouts over seven innings.
And the Reds gained a game in the wild card chase on both Philadelphia and St. Louis, both of whom lost Tuesday. The San Diego Padres, a game ahead of the Reds when the night began, played a west coast game against the Los Angeles Angels.
Of the Reds finally scrounging up an early lead, India said, “That was good for our team. We needed a little momentum on our side after struggling the last couple of weeks. That was big for us to get out ahead, get a little groove, and Wade did his thing tonight.”
In addition to his home run, India began an eighth-inning two-run rally with a double. He scored twice and drove in a run.
The Reds came out swinging aggressively in the first inning against Cubs starter Adrian Sampson.
Sampson was making his second start of the season and his other start was against the Reds on Aug. 18. He held the Reds to one run and five hits over four innings.
This time in the first inning Sampson’s pitches were in the hot spot and the Reds ripped. India led off the game with his 19th home run. With one out Nick Castellanos homered and it was 2-0.
“It was a good pitch to drive,” said India about his home run. “He made a good pitch, actually low and in. I knew he comes in with a little sinker so I was ready for it and put a pretty good swing on it.”
lndia’s home run was the 12th home run by the Reds leading off the first inning, tying the single-season National League record.
Miley and his devastating cutter baffled the Cubs, except for a two-out home run by catcher Willson Contreras in the third.
“It was the best cutter I’ve had in a while,” said Miley. “Me and D.J. (pitching coach Derek Johnson) worked on a few things the last couple of days. I was trying to stay on my legs a little bit longer, trying to help my command which had been getting a little squirrely.”
The Contreras home run made it 2-1 and the game settled into a pitcher’s battle.
Miley and the Reds caught a mammoth piece of luck in the sixth. With the score still 2-1, Ian Happ beat an infield single. Patrick Wisdom drove one over left fielder Max Schrock’s head.
At every other park in baseball, Happ would have scored to tie it. But the ball became entangled in the ivy on the brick wall. In Wrigley Field, that’s a ground-rule double and Happ had to stop at third. Miley then retired Matt Duffy.
“That was beautiful, that ball getting hung up in the ivy,” said Miley. “I thought it was a two-run homer off the bat. It worked out by sticking in the ivy and that was huge.”
Miley won his 12th game and India broke into a smile when he talked about the big left-hander.
“What he did is nothing new, that’s Wade,” said India. “Wade is special, man. Everyone will tell you, he is one of the best teammates you’ll ever play with. He is always so relaxed, such a happy guy.
“He competes and it’s fun to play behind a guy like him,” India added. “When Wade is on the mound, it’s quick, it’s competitive, it’s in the zone and he uses his defense. He trusts us.”
The Reds were 0 for 10 with runners on base when the eighth inning began, but they took care of that while scoring two huge runs.
India greeted rookie relief pitcher Manuel Rodriguez with a first-pitch double to left field. The next two Reds made outs and Cubs interim manager decided to intentionally walk Joey Votto.
It was an unfortunate decision for the Cubs. Mike Moustakas responded by pulling an 0-and-2 pitch into right field to score India. Kyle Farmer followed with a run-scoring single for a 4-1 Reds lead.
Michael Lorenzen replaced Miley in the eighth and matters became scary for the Reds. He gave up two solo home runs, one to pinch-hitter Rafael Ortega and one to Happ.
It was Happ’s fourth home run in his last eight games and lifted the Cubs to within a run, 4-3.
Mychal Givens closed it out in the ninth with a 1-2-3 inning.