Pinch-hitting was for the most part unfamiliar for Jose Peraza this season.
The middle infielder went into Thursday’s series finale hitless in four at-bats off the bench.
He made the fifth one count, launching the first pitch he saw from Chicago Cubs reliever Pedro Strop for a bases-loaded, two-run ground-rule double with two outs that bounced into the Reds bullpen in left-center field and gave the Reds a 3-2 lead.
Eugenio Suarez scored on a Strop (3-4) wild pitch and the Reds went on to avoid their second three-game sweep at the hands of the Central Division-leading Cubs with a 4-2 win.
Michael Lorenzen (8-2) took over the club lead in wins with a scoreless eighth. Raisel Iglesias pitched the ninth for his 24th save in 25 tries. He gave up a one-out single to pinch-hitter Jon Jay, who promptly was thrown out by Tucker Barnhart trying to steal second. He completed the win by striking out pinch-hitter Alex Avila.
The Cubs swept the Reds in Chicago in mid-May.
Jake Arrieta’s first three innings of work against the Reds looked vaguely familiar.
The veteran Chicago right-hander looked dominant, retiring the first nine Cincinnati batters, six by strikeout. The memories of some onlookers started drifting back to April 21 of last season, when Arrieta crafted a no-hitter in the most lopsided no-hit win in modern (since 1900) major league history, a Chicago 16-0 win.
Leave it to Joey Votto to break up the suspense – and the no-hitter. Votto followed a two-base error by Cubs’ third baseman Kris Bryant on Zack Cozart’s sharp bouncer with a clean, run-scoring single to right field that tied the score at 1-1.
Votto almost tied the game again in the sixth, but the iffy right quad that Cozart has been nursing since June might’ve cost the Reds a run. Cozart tried to score from first on Votto’s double to left that got away from left fielder Kyle Schwarber. He scrambled after the ball and fired it to shortstop Javier Baez, whose nifty relay throw cut down Cozart at the plate.
Arrieta went on to load the bases with two walks, but Jesse Winker grounded into an inning-ending force out.
Baez had given the Cubs a 2-1 lead in the top of the inning with an RBI single to left.
Manager Bryan Price, hoping that rookie right-hander Sal Romano could build on the strong start he put together last Friday in Atlanta, watched as Romano (3-6) allowed six hits and two runs – one on Ian Happ’s 19th homer with one out in the second inning – with three walks and seven strikeouts in seven innings. Romano, who matched his career high in strikeouts, also went seven against the Braves, allowing five hits and one run with two walks and three strikeouts.