McCoy: Reds fall to Cubs

The Cincinnati Reds are finishing their dismal 2022 baseball season the same way they started it … and that’s not a good thing.

They began it 3-22 and are currently 4-18 down the stretch with four games remaining.

The Chicago Cubs handed them their eighth loss in nine games, 2-1, Saturday afternoon in Wrigley Field, Cincinnati’s 98th defeat. The Reds must win three of the last four, all against the Cubs, to avoid the second 100-loss season in club history.

The Cubs had only three hits Saturday, but one was a tie-breaking, two-out home run off relief pitcher Derek Law in the seventh inning by Seiya Suzuki.

It was a bizarre pitching day for the Reds.

Starter Nick Lodolo went to full counts six times during his five innings. Four times he issued walks and one time he hit a batter, his 19th hit batsman this season.

And one of his full-count walks was a two-out free pass to David Bote in the second, a costly walk. Nelson Velazques followed with a triple up the right center alley that tied the game, 1-1.

Lodolo then went to 3-and-2 on the next two hitters and walked them both before Suzuki flied out to end the inning.

Lodolo only gave up one run and two hits over his 95-pitch five innings. But he walked five, a career high, hit a batter and struck out five.

The Reds produced only four hits but hit several balls hard that were directly at defenders, especially against Chicago starter Drew Smyly.

Cincinnati manager David Bell stuffed his lineup with nine right-handed batters against the left-handed Smyly. It didn’t work.

When last seen against the Reds, Smyly pitched five scoreless innings and struck out five.

Even though Smyly gave up only one run and three hits, Cubs manager David Ross recognized that the Reds were hitting him hard into futile outs and removed him after three innings.

The Reds one run was against Smyly in the third, a two-out double by Spencer Steer and a run-scoring single by Kyle Farmer.

Four Chicago relief pitchers held the Reds to no runs and no hits over the last six innings, including former Reds pitcher Wade Miley. He pitched two perfect innings and was rewarded with the win.

Bell tried pulling every lever he could in the ninth inning. Manuel Rodriguez started the ninth for the Cubs and he went to 3-an-2 on Kyle Farmer before he grounded out.

Bell sent Jake Fraley to hit for Stuart Fairchild and he drew a walk, the potential tying run.

When Bell sent left hander T.J. Friedl up to hit for Aristides Aquino, Chicago manager Ross countered with left-handed pitcher Brandon Hughes.

Not to be outmaneuvered, Bell called back Friedl and sent Alejo Lopez to bat. He struck out to end it.

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