Reds pile on runs, win Wrigley slugfest
This time, offense fuels victory, bailing out pitchers
CHICAGO -- Thinking back on the Reds' early wins this season left Austin Kearns and the rest of the hitters with a bit of a guilty conscience.
In almost every win he could think of, the Reds' pitching played the major role while the offense broke down in key scoring situations.
"When the pitchers are doing a great job like they have been and the offense isn't giving them any runs to work with, we all take that personal because they're out there battling and winning us some games," Kearns said. "We want to give them every opportunity we can."
The Reds, who had been hitting .217 with runners in scoring position heading into Tuesday night's game, had been struggling in those opportunities early on.
But they didn't have any of that trouble in this 11-9 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
On this night, the hitting was timely and the runs came in bunches.
"That's what we've been hoping for," manager Dave Miley said. "It's been well documented that we've been struggling with runners in scoring position. It's what these guys felt they were capable of doing and we got it from basically everybody."
Miley wasn't kidding, either. Nine Reds players recorded hits in the game with four players tallying multiple hits.
The strong hitting night wasn't without battles, however. In a game of who could hold a lead longer, the Cubs and Reds went back and forth in a scoring shootout.
"That's the thing about this team," Adam Dunn said. "If we go down, we never feel like we're out of it. We have a pretty good offense, we feel like we can come back from just about anything. When we got the lead, the bullpen did a good job holding it."
The team was finally able to capitalize on timely hits, but the Reds might have gotten a bit of a break as well.
One night after facing Mark Prior, the Reds had another tough task at hand with Carlos Zambrano. This time, though, the Reds didn't have to deal with a Cubs ace for very long as Zambrano was ejected in the fifth inning.
After Dunn hit a solo home run, Zambrano hit the next batter, Kearns, in the hip. Home plate umpire Tim Welke threw Zambrano out of the game.
|Austin Kearns / RF|
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
"Carlos Zambrano throws a four-seamer right at my back," Kearns said. "I mean, the guy has one of the best sinkers in the game. A four-seamer coming right at me is not a mistake."
While Zambrano had a rough fifth inning, Reds starter Eric Milton had his own struggles in the frame. With a 6-3 lead behind him heading into the bottom of the fifth, Milton gave up five runs off two home runs and a sacrifice fly.
Milton struggled to find control and left many of his pitches up high. With the wind blowing out at Wrigley, it was not the time to loft pitches, which is exactly what Milton did.
"Bad, bad location and bad execution," Milton said. "You just can't do that on this level."
Milton pitched five innings, allowing 11 hits and eight earned runs. Seven of his eight earned runs came off four homers, tying his career high.
Milton was displeased with his own performance, but happy that the team finally was able to come together on the offensive end.
"It's nice for the offense," Milton said. "They've been waiting for one of those games. They've been talking about getting 10 runs, and tonight they did."
The Reds' 11 runs is a season high for the club.
While hitting was a crucial part of the Reds' win, so was the bullpen. After Milton's early problems, three Reds relievers held the Cubs to one run in four innings.
"It gave the guys a chance to battle back and get some big hits," Miley said. "The bullpen deserves a lot of credit."
But the most credit goes to the Reds' hitters, who were finally the reason behind a win.
"When the pitchers are doing a great job like they have been and the offense isn't giving them any runs to work with, we all take that personal because they're out there battling and winning us some games," Kearns said. "We want to give them every opportunity we can. Hopefully, with this win, we can get things moving a little bit."
Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.