8/13/2013 8:25 P.M. ET
Chapman mixes in slider to continue hot streak
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- In netting his 28th save by striking out the side and closing a 2-0 Reds win over the Cubs, Aroldis Chapman continued a dominant streak. Chapman has retired his last seven batters with strikeouts and 10 of his last 12, while converting his fourth straight save chance. He has saved 10 of his last 11 opportunities and 20 of his last 22.
Against Chicago, Chapman demonstrated command of a nasty slider and used it for six of his 14 pitches. Facing Dioner Navarro, the lefty threw a 101-mph fastball for ball three before freezing Navarro on a called strike three with a 90-mph slider.
"It definitely helps to be able to work ahead, because it gives him the opportunity to throw a secondary pitch like his slider," Reds pitching coach Bryan Price said. "He doesn't really use it as a pitch to use as a backwards pitch, 1-0 or 2-1, to get back into a count. He could have yesterday, because his command of it was so good. It was inevitable it's going to be a pitch that evolves for him to remain as consistent as he's been so far."
Monday was the polar opposite of an outing Chapman had on May 3 at Wrigley Field -- one of his worst performances of the season. After inheriting a 6-2 lead in the ninth and in a non-save situation, he allowed three runs on four hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning. J.J. Hoover had to get the final out for the save.
"These guys, at times, have given him some trouble, including this year," Price said. "A lot of it was he had a real heavy fastball, out-over-the-plate type of approach. They just did a real good job of putting it into play.
"This is one of those teams, I think, where you can't just throw them all fastballs. You have to be able to mix pitches and change speeds. I think Devin [Mesoraco] and Chappy were smart enough to know that going into the game yesterday."
Ludwick appreciates return to Reds despite outcome
CHICAGO -- Because of his right shoulder injury sustained on Opening Day, Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick had to wait more than four months between his first game of 2013 and his second.
Ludwick, who returned from surgery to repair a torn labrum, will have at least one day between his second and third starts of the season as he was not in Tuesday's lineup vs. the Cubs. He was 0-for-3 in his return to the lineup in Monday's 2-0 win.
"Tomorrow has a lot to do with Ludwick being off today," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We've got a quick turnaround [with a day game] tomorrow. We certainly don't have very much time in between. And then if we elect to play him Thursday, we have a night game. That gives him more time. And then the next day, if he seems to be OK, we have a full 24 hours that day. Today seemed like the right time to do it."
Ludwick felt like he came through his first game back with no physical issues and felt fine on Tuesday.
"I wouldn't be here if I wasn't ready to play nine innings," Ludwick said. "Now I just have to take those fastballs and hit them the way I want to as opposed to getting underneath them and just missing. I'm close. I felt really good in the box last night. I was really disappointed I didn't get a hit. At least we won."
In his first two at-bats, Ludwick swung at the first pitch. In the second inning against Travis Wood, he sharply grounded a ball to shortstop for a double play. He popped out to second base in the third inning and grounded out to first base in the seventh.
"The second one was actually a better pitch to hit," Ludwick said. "It was almost right down the middle of the plate. I got underneath it a little bit long. I was chewing my butt off the whole time the rest of the game for missing that pitch."
Ludwick, 35, didn't take for granted that he was back on the roster and playing again. Signed to a two-year, $15 million contract through 2014 with a club option for 2015, he has renewed appreciation for being in the Major Leagues and has changed his workout program to stay sharper.
"It was probably the happiest 0-for-3 I've had in my life. Riding back on the bus and just being out there," Ludwick said. "When you're out four months, you realize how much you miss the game. I want to do everything I can to stay in the best possible shape as I can to make this thing last as long as possible."
• On Tuesday, the Reds promoted their 2011 first-round Draft pick, starting pitcher Robert Stephenson, from Class A Bakersfield to Double-A Pensacola. In his final start for Bakersfield on Saturday, Stephenson allowed one hit with nine strikeouts over six scoreless innings.
• Left-handed pitcher Zach Duke, who was released from Triple-A Louisville on Aug. 3, was re-signed on Tuesday and will return to Louisville.