McCoy: Reds rally in the ninth to beat Cubs, take series

Luis Cessa’s message to the Cincinnati Reds front office: “I’m a starting pitcher. Did you see what I did Thursday afternoon in Wrigley Field?”

No, Cessa didn’t win. He was not the pitcher of record as the Reds scored two runs in the ninth inning to beat the Chicago Cubs, 4-3.

Alejo Lopez tied it with a scorching triple and Jonathan India’s third hit, a two-out single, scored Lopez with the winning run.

Cessa pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up one run while he was on the mound and three hits … and two of the hits were misplays by center fielder T.J. Friedl. Cessa struck out eight with his slippery slider while walking nobody.

Cessa was a starting pitcher for the New York Yankees, but the Reds thrust him into the bullpen until a scarcity of starting pitchers forced the Reds to put him into the rotation.

And that’s where he wants to be.

By scoring in each of the last three innings, four runs aided by six Cubs walks, the Reds took the series two games to one. And the fourth-place Reds left the Windy City one game behind the third-place Cubs.

Cessa had a no-hitter through four innings. Nico Hoerner led off the fifth with a long fly to deep center. Friedl raced back and got a glove on it, but the ball squirted away. Hoerner was credited with a triple and scored on P.J. Higgins’ sacrifice fly.

Another Friedl mishap led to a run in the sixth. Seiya Suzuki flied to deep center and Friedl again tracked it. But at the determining moment, he lost it in the sun, and it fell for a double.

There were two outs and Franmil Reyes was the next batter, a guy Cessa had struck out twice. And even though he had only 73 pitches, manager David Bell decided it was time for the hook.

Buck Farmer replaced Cessa and Reyes punched a run-scoring single to right, a run charged to Cessa, and it was 2-0.

Kyle Farmer led off the seventh with a blast into the left-field basket in front of the bleachers, his 10th home run, cutting the Cubs’ lead to 2-1.

And the home run signaled the end for Chicago starter Adrian Sampson.

The Reds immediately threatened relief pitcher Brandon Hughes with a single by Jake Fraley and a walk to Aristides Aquino. Hughes caught Nick Senzel gaping at strike three and relief pitcher Manuel Rodriguez came on to strike out Jose Barrero on four pitches.

The sun made life miserable for Friedl in the seventh, another ball that gave Hoerner a leadoff ‘double.’ This time Alexis Diaz came in to save him.

Higgins bunted Hoerner to third and Farmer walked Alfonso Rivas, putting runners on third and first with one out. Diaz sauntered out of the bullpen and struck out two pinch-hitters, Rafael Ortega and Nick Madrigal, to leave it at 2-1.

Friedl took a four-pitch one-out walk in the eighth and represented the tying run. Jonathan India lined to shortstop and Farmer, Cincinnati’s Mr. Clutch, dumped a single into right field, putting runners on third and first.

Chicago manager David Ross went to his bullpen for Rowan Wick. After getting ahead of Fraley 0-and-2. he walked him to load the bases.

Rookie Spencer Steer worked ahead 3-and-0 and walked on five pitches, forcing in the tying run.

Given a chance for a dramatic second grand slam home run in less than a week, Aquino grounded out, leaving it 2-2.

Diaz struck out the first three Cubs he faced, but with one out in the eighth Suzuki reached the first row of the left-field bleachers with a go-ahead home run and the Cubs led, 3-2.

Mark Leiter Jr. was asked to save the game in the ninth. . .and failed, the 28th blown save this season for the Cubs.

He walked Senzel on a full count to open the inning. Barrero popped out on a bunt attempt, but Lopez tripled up the right-center gap to tie it, 3-3.

After Friedl struck out, India drove a two-out single to left field, scoring Lopez with the winning run.

Ian Gibaut gave up a one-out single to Higgins in the ninth, then struck out Alfonso Rivas and Rafael Ortega. It was Gibaut’s first major league save in his 5t1st appearance.

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