The Cubs held the Reds scoreless through six innings, and they still lost 4-3 Thursday at Wrigley Field.
Cubs reliever Rowan Wick entered the eighth inning with two outs and runners on first and third. He immediately worked ahead in the count against Jake Fraley with two quick strikes. But four of the next five pitches he threw were out of the zone, and Fraley fouled off the one over the plate. Wick walked Fraley to load the bases.
Then, Wick walked Spencer Steer in five pitches, pushing the tying run across the plate.
“You can’t come in and walk guys,” manager David Ross said after the game. “That’s No. 1.”
Wick went on a monthlong streak of 11 scoreless outings from mid-July to mid-August, briefly claiming the bulk of the Cubs’ save situations after the trade deadline. But since Aug. 16, he has allowed seven earned runs in 7⅔ innings.
In the bottom half of the eighth inning, Seiya Suzuki delivered the go-ahead run, lining a homer into the first row of the left-field bleachers to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead. He has been on a hot streak. Entering Thursday, Suzuki was hitting .343 with a .929 OPS in his last 19 games.
His heroics, however, didn’t give the Cubs the lead for long. Reliever Mark Leiter Jr. took the mound in the ninth inning. He issued a leadoff walk to Senzel, a game-tying RBI triple to Alejo Lopez and a go-ahead RBI single to Jonathan India.
The late-inning implosion came after starter Adrian Sampson held the Reds to one run through six innings. He did so while battling a blister on the inside of his right ring finger, which he described as “not a big deal.”
Asked about his future with the Cubs, Sampson said: “That is totally out of my control. But heaven on earth is pitching at Wrigley on a day like today: 70’s, beautiful weather out, blue skies, always great fans.”
Hoerner gets offense started
The Cubs had yet to record a hit against Reds starter Luis Cessa when Nico Hoerner led off the fifth inning. He hit a line drive to the center-field wall, just glancing off the end of TJ Friedl’s glove.
Hoerner flew around the bases, sliding head-first into third base with his tongue out. PJ Higgins, the Cubs’ next batter, drove Hoerner in with a sacrifice fly to center. Hoerner also hit a double in the seventh inning, going 2-for-4 on the day.
The Cubs announced that the results of Willson Contreras’ MRI on Wednesday were consistent with his sprained ankle diagnosis.
“We wanted to make sure we’re not doing anything that was going to cause any further harm and making sure there’s no real problem in there,” Ross said. “So, all good news. He was excited. We were excited. Making sure he’s healthy and just getting all the way back where the ankle feels strong enough that he can go out and compete without thinking about it.”
Contreras, who the Cubs put on the 10-day injured list this week, will continue to rest his ankle, but he was already moving around more freely Thursday than he was a week ago. He played catch with lefty Justin Steele (low back strain) before the game.
Cubs right-hander Keegan Thompson is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Friday.