The Cincinnati Reds avoided the dreaded 100-loss season, at least temporarily, with a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Monday night in Great American Ball Park.
Their loss total remains at 99 with two games left, both against the Cubs.
The Reds ended a six-game losing streak and stopped Chicago’s seven-game winning streak, mostly due to an outstanding performance by Hunter Greene.
With three runs, the Reds still have scored more than three runs only once in their last 18 games.
And that’s where Greene comes in.
Greene pitched six innings and his fastball was at high-octane, above 100 miles an hour most of the night. Greene shut out the Cubs on two hits while striking out eight, with a walk and a hit batsman.
Derek Law, aided by a double play with two on, pitched a scoreless seventh, Hunter Strickland was perfect in the eighth and close Alexis Diaz closed the deal, albeit shakily, after walking the first two he faced in the ninth.
Greene struck out the first four he faced with fastballs clocked at 101, 101 and 102.
He then retired Nico Hoerner on a grounder to short, walked Franmil Reyes, then struck out Alfonso Rivas at 101 to end the second inning.
Yan Gomes led the third with a double and was left standing on second base when Christopher Morel popped out, Greene struck out Zach McKinstry at 100 and struck out Alfonso Quiroz with an 88 miles an hour slider.
Greene’s only drama surfaced in the sixth. After he retired Morel — 10 straight retired — McKinstry singled to center and Greene hit Quiroz with a pitch, putting runners on second and first with one out.
Suzuki lined one that shortstop Jose Barrero speared and fired to second to double off McKinstry, an inning-ending double play.
Chicago starter Hayden Wesneski, a 24-year-old rookie acquired via trade with the New York Yankees, began the game with a 3-1 work sheet and a 2.33 earned run average.
And the Reds didn’t exactly pound him like a carpet tack. In six innings he gave up two runs, four hits, walked one and struck out six.
The Reds scored their two runs off Wesneski in the third on two hits, both weakly strokes.
Barrero walked and T.J. Friedl nubbed one up the first base line. Pitcher Wesneski fielded it and threw it into the dirt and into short right field. Barrero scored from first base. Friedl ended up at second. He tried to steal third and was out. . .and also out of the game with a leg injury.
Jonathan India was hit by a pitch and with two outs, Kyle Farmer blooped one into shallow right field for a second run and a 2-0 lead.
Michael Rucker pitched the seventh for the Cubs and struck out the side, but manager David Ross removed him for the eighth and inserted Manuel Rodriguez.
That enabled the Reds to add to their lead with a run. Stuart Fairchild, who replaced the injured Friedl, doubled nd scored on India’s ground rule double to left center to make it 3-0.
Rodriguez then walked two to fill the bases and Erich Uelman came in to coax an inning-ending double play from Spencer Steer.
Diaz wobbled in the ninth. He walked leadoff hitter McKinstry on a full count and duplicated it by walking Esteban Quiroz, also on a full count.
That earned Diaz a visit from pitching coach Derek Johnson. Seiya Suzuki flied to right and McKinstry took third.
Then it ended strangely. Ian Happ grounded to second and Steer threw to Barrero at second, but Quiroz was called safe. Barrero’s throw to first retired Happ and first baseman Solano fired a throw back to second and caught Quiro off second base for a game-ending double play, the Reds third of the game.
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