All-or-nothing Adam Dunn, who hit home runs with as much regularity as he struck out in his nearly eight full seasons as the Cincinnati Reds left fielder, recently was announced as one of six candidates for election by fans to the Reds Hall of Fame.
Middletown’s Kyle Schwarber isn’t Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame material yet, but he is having a Dunn-like season for the National League Central Division leaders.
Schwarber, who also plays left field, went into Wednesday’s game against the Reds at Great American Ball Park batting .202, but he’d clubbed 20 home runs. He made it 21 with a three-run opposite-field shot in the fourth inning that survived an umpiring crew chief challenge and broke open a game the Cubs went on to win 9-3.
“That first half is a complete wash for me,” said Schwarber, who went into the game hitting .278 in August and .264 since being recalled from Triple-A Iowa on July 6. “I’ve felt a lot better at the plate recently, hitting the ball hard the last couple of days. Got to take those — don’t worry about the result, worry about the process and hit it where it’s at.”
At least the Reds didn’t need 4 hours and 4 minutes to lose this one, as they did the previous night in a game that set a record for the longest nine-inning game in franchise history, according to Elias Sports Bureau as reported by the team. They finished Wednesday’s loss in a more reasonable 2 hours and 55 minutes.
Schwarber’s homer off Cincinnati rookie right-hander Asher Wojciechowski followed back-to-back leadoff singles by Chicago left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery and center fielder Jon Jay. The ball bounced back on to the field, and the umpires checked to make sure it first went into the stands.
Third baseman Tommy La Stella, giving reigning NL Most Valuable Player Kris Bryant a night off after Bryant was hit in the hand by a pitch Tuesday, delivered a two-run homer into the visitors’ bullpen down the right-field line to cap the Cubs’ five-run fourth. La Stella was the first batter faced by rookie right-hander Alejandro Chacin, who was making his major league debut after the Reds promoted him from Triple-A Louisville earlier Wednesday.
Right-hander Luke Farrell, recalled with Chacin on Wednesday, followed his fellow former Bat to the mound and allowed one hit and two walks with three strikeouts in three innings.
Joey Votto hit his 33rd home run with one out in the ninth, allowing the Reds to avoid their third shutout loss at home and fourth overall. They got one runner as far as third base in six innings against Montgomery, who ended with a flourish, logging 11 consecutive outs starting with a double play to get out of the third.
Billy Hamilton was on second when the Cubs turned that double play after notching his 53rd stolen base.
Eugenio Suarez drove his 24th homer into the left field seats – his 20th at home – to extend his hitting streak to eight games with two outs in the ninth and Scott Schebler followed with his 24th to deep right-center, but Adam Duvall went 0-for-4 to see his hitting streak snapped at seven games.
Wojciechowski (3-3) walked in a run in the first inning. The Cubs added an RBI single by Jason Heyward, and Anthony Rizzo scored when Duvall overran the ball in left for an error. The Cubs reached Wojciechowski for eight hits and seven earned runs with three walks and six strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.
“It comes down to I didn’t make the pitches,” Wojciechowski said. “It’s extremely frustrating when you have a job to do and you don’t get it done. I didn’t have very good command tonight. It’s frustrating, especially when you’re shorthand like we are.”
Every spot in Chicago’s batting order came up with at least one hit except No. 3 batter Ben Zobrist. The Cubs’ nine runs pushed to 38 the number opponents have scored against the Reds in their last four games.