Cubs beat Reds in 13 on Kyle Schwarber’s tying, winning homers

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CINCINNATI – This is why the Cubs say they need pitching at the trade deadline – because they’ve already added the hitter they think they needed.

Four days after his promotion from AAA Iowa, slugging prospect Kyle Schwarber delivered two huge home runs — a tying, two-run shot in the ninth and the game-winner in the top of the 13th, as the Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.

“It’s awesome just to be able to help contribute,” said Schwarber, who started the last two games behind the plate with a large personal fan base traveling in from his hometown of Middletown, Ohio, about 40 miles away. “It was a great feeling all around.”

The game ended just past midnight local time, and Schwarber is scheduled to catch the opener of Wednesday’s doubleheader barely 12 hours after the end of Tuesday’s game.

“I’m ready to get back and do it all over again,” he said. “I’m excited for it.”

Trade for a bat?

“We just brought up Schwarbs,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s hard to find bats. I don’t even know who that guy is that you might want to pick up, and then if you do, where do you play him?”

It’s hard to imagine getting more impact through a trade, at least based on early returns. Schwarber, who was 8-for-22 in a six-game stint as the designated hitter in interleague games last month, already is 8-for-17 with a walk, the two homers, two doubles and four RBIs this time around.

In the ninth inning, against J.J. Hoover (5-0, 1.31), Schwarber fell behind 0-2 quickly, then worked the count full – fouling off three two-strike pitches along the way – before driving the tying shot halfway up the bleachers in right.

“I’m just trying to hit the ball, trying to get on base,” he said. “Once I got to two strikes, it’s just battle-up time and try to put the ball in play and get on base for the next guy. And it just happened to go over the fence.”

Both times?

“Both times,” he said, smiling.

The winning shot, with one out in the 13th, came off a 2-2 pitch from Nate Adcock.

Whether Schwarber can sustain an impact level of hitting over the final 2 ½ months, teammates already are raving about him – including starting pitcher Jason Hammel praising the work behind the plate of the still-raw catcher.

When he’s in the lineup he’s one of four rookies starting – with third baseman Kris Bryant, second baseman Addison Russell and right fielder Jorge Soler.

“These guys can hit a little bit,” Hammel said of the three first-round draft picks and the $30 million Cuban free agent. “Especially when they make contact. It’s not just going to be a single to left. There’s definite threat there.”

Hammel is uniquely qualified in the clubhouse to talk about the Cubs’ rookie class, having come up through the Tampa Bay Rays’ system and seen Evan Longoria’s touted rookie class help take the 2008 Rays to the World Series.

“No offense to those guys, but these guys are even more impressive,” Hammel said. “Obviously, Longo, he came up and had an immediate impact power-wise. Obviously KB [has that power]. Addison hit a bomb before KB. And now you’ve got Schwarber hitting two in one game.”

Schwarber’s first multi-homer game was in his 11th game (eighth start). Soler did it even quicker, in his third game, last August.

“It’s a very young lineup, and they’re going to take their lumps,” Hammel said. “But right now it’s pretty fun to watch.”

NOTES: Seven weeks after he broke his finger on a slide, AAA slugger Javy Baez is expected to start a rehab assignment this week. That could put him in position to help with his bat down the stretch – or put him in play next week near the trade deadline as the front office seeks pitching help.

–Catcher Miguel Montero’s second opinion on his sprained left thumb seemed to confirm the original diagnosis, and he’s to be shut down for the next two weeks before being re-evaluated at that point. He’s expected to be sidelined at least through August.

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