CINCINNATI – The Chicago Cubs were recipients of back-to-back home runs by Chris Coghlan and Ryan Sweeney in the sixth inning off Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto.
But that wasn’t enough, as left-hander Travis Wood allowed three runs in the first and the Reds added another run in the bottom of the sixth to hold on for a 4-2 win in the first game of a split doubleheader that extended the Cubs’ losing streak to four games.
Wood was pulled after 5 1/3 innings and 109 pitches. He walked only two while striking out five, but the Reds jumped on him early.
In the bottom of the first, Billy Hamilton led off with a bunt single past Wood, stole second base and scored on a single by Brandon Phillips, and Brandon Phillips scored on a two-run home run by Jay Bruce.
The homer was Bruce’s third in as many games.
Cueto had a 1.99 ERA entering Tuesday’s game, and he became the first pitcher in major league history to to throw at least seven innings and allow five hits or fewer in each of his first nine appearances this season.
The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the top of the seventh on singles by John Baker, Darwin Barney and pinch hitter Justin Ruggiano. but Coghlan struck out and Sweeney grounded to second base.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Reds added a run when Chris Heisey hit a single, stole second base and advanced to third when the throw by John Baker struck him in the leg and caromed into shallow left field.
Ramon Santiago hit a single to score Heisey and knock out Wood.
Junior Lake led off the ninth with a single off Aroldis Chapman to snap an 0-for-20 slump and is now 2-for-16 as a pinch hitter. But Chapman struck out Ryan Sweeney on a 102 mph fastball with the tying run at first to preserve the win.
Baker handled the duties in the first game. Renteria wanted to give Welington Castillo extra rest after catching all nine innings Monday night, as well as give the left-handed hitting Baker a better matchup against Cueto in the first game with Castillo facing left-hander David Holmberg in the second game.
But the ERA of Cubs pitchers when Baker is behind the plate was 2.89, compared to their 4.21 mark when Castillo catches.