CINCINNATI -- Pitcher Todd Redmond knew his big league debut for the Reds would be a one-and-done type of affair. He was needed to start Game 2 of a doubleheader vs. the Cubs and then expected to return to Triple-A Louisville.
Redmond had a chance to create a memorable splash. There was less pressure because the Reds already had won Game 1. Great American Ball Park was sold out with 41,236 fans, and they had energy to spare.
Nerves are nerves, however, and Redmond admitted to feeling them during a 9-7 loss to the Cubs that featured two home runs by Ryan Ludwick during a foiled comeback effort. In the first game out of 121 this season not started by one of the Reds' regular five rotation members, Redmond lasted only 3 1/3 innings and gave up four runs, seven hits and five walks with two strikeouts. His pitch count was a whopping 91 for the short outing.
"He was overthrowing some. He was probably a little over-amped and over-hyped," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He was getting underneath the ball and he was high all day. This is his first big league start and he was waiting on this a long time. It was a rough outing for him."
The 27-year-old Redmond, who was acquired from the Braves last month and had three previous call-ups to both Atlanta and Cincinnati this season without pitching, had allowed 34 walks over 134 innings at Triple-A this season.
In the very beginning, the Cubs continually had Redmond in trouble, but he found ways to limit the damage. He survived a bases-loaded jam in the first, and after giving up Brett Jackson's leadoff homer in the second, escaped when runners were on first and second with one out. Through three innings and 71 pitches, the Cubs were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, and had left seven men on base.
"Making your debut, you're going to have some butterflies out there," Redmond said. "After the first inning, that settled down there. I just wasn't making my pitches. I'm not a guy that walks people. That's what I take pride in. I take pride in throwing strikes. I was a little upset about that."
Redmond did not survive a third tour of the Cubs order. Following a leadoff walk in the fourth, Redmond fielded a slow roller near the first-base line by Joe Mather and made a bad toss to the bag for an error that put two men in scoring position. Anthony Rizzo's RBI single to right field came next, followed by Starlin Castro's RBI double to left field to end Redmond's night. With Alfredo Simon on the mound, the inning's third run came in on Bryan LaHair's fielder's choice to first base, as Rizzo beat the throw to the plate.
"Today, I was getting ahead of hitters and then kind of nibbling, trying to get too fine and then falling behind and walking guys," Redmond said.
Simon gave up a run in the fifth, and there were three runs (two unearned) in the sixth scored against Sam LeCure during his first outing since Aug. 10 that made it an 8-2 game.
Through their first four innings against Cubs lefty Brooks Raley, the Reds mustered just one hit, on Ludwick's leadoff homer in the second. Credit Cincinnati for not going away as quietly during the later innings.
"It's tough to sweep doubleheaders. I don't know why that is, but it's tough," said Ludwick, who saw his nine-game hitting streak snapped as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of Game 1. "We had our backs against the wall. We scratched, we clawed, we fought and gave ourselves a chance."
In the fifth against Raley, pinch-hitter Chris Heisey delivered a one-out line single to left field. In the sixth, Brandon Phillips led off with a double to left field and scored on a Todd Frazier RBI single. A two-out, broken-bat double to left field by Scott Rolen against Manny Corpas scored Ludwick and made it a four-run game.
It was 8-4 in the seventh with two outs when Ludwick drove Corpas' 0-1 pitch to right-center field for a two-run homer. It moved Ludwick into a tie for the team lead with 25 homers this season, and it was his sixth homer and 11th RBI in his last nine games.
As Reds reliever Sean Marshall pitched perfect seventh and eighth innings with four strikeouts, Cincinnati made it a one-run game in the eighth. Jay Bruce led off with a single and scored on pinch-hitter Miguel Cairo's triple to the right-field corner against Cubs reliever Shawn Camp. A David DeJesus homer in the ninth against Logan Ondrusek gave Chicago the run back, however.
The Reds had the tying run on first base with one out in the ninth, but lacked one more big hit, as the Cubs won their first road game since July 24. Coupled with the 5-3 Game 1 win, they improved to 6 ½ games over the second-place Pirates in the National League Central.
"We had opportunities throughout the game to get closer," Ludwick said. "It shows the character of our team. We've been doing it all year long. We came back from down six earlier this year against Arizona. That's tough to do, and we almost did it twice."