Editor’s note: The Cincinnati Reds completed a three-game series sweep of the Chicago Cubs Sunday before heading back on the road for three game in Kansas City beginning Monday night.
With four wins in a row, the Reds find themselves in second place in the National League Central Division, seven games behind the Milwaukee Brewers, who lost Sunday, snapping a nine-game winning streak.
The Reds entered Monday night’s game with a record of 43-40, 1.5 games ahead of the Cubs and 3 games ahead of fourth-place St. Louis.
After the series against the Royals, the Reds close out play before the All-Star break with a four-game series at Milwaukee.
After the four-day All-Star break, the Reds open the second half of the season at home with three games against Milwaukee and three against the New York Mets.
The following is a report on Sunday’s game.
CINCINNATI (AP) — With one out in the ninth inning and Cincinnati clinging to a 3-2 lead against the Chicago Cubs, Amir Garrett put himself in a jam.
Garrett walked Ian Happ on four pitches and surrendered a pinch-hit single to Eric Sogard. That prompted a visit from Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson, whose instruction was simple.
“Throw the ball right down the middle, get this double play,” Johnson told him.
Willson Contreras then bounced to third baseman Eugenio Suárez, who started a game-ending double play that closed out the Cubs’ ninth straight loss.
“Kudos to (Johnson) for coming out there and talking to me,” said Garrett, who earned his sixth save.
Cincinnati earned its fourth straight win and pulled within seven games of NL Central-leading Milwaukee. The Reds visit the Brewers for a four-game series before the All-Star break, and the teams play a three-game set in Cincinnati after the break.
The Cubs scored a total of five runs in the weekend series, dropping all three games by one run. They closed out a 1-9 trip, losing every game after throwing a no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Reds’ beleaguered bullpen held the Cubs scoreless for the third straight day. After Wade Miley gave up 10 hits through 6 2/3 innings, Art Warren (2-0), Brad Brach and Garrett closed it out.
“They’ve been doing it more than just this weekend, but I think it really showed up this weekend,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “They’ve been pitching really well, and again today.”
Chicago went 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners on base.
Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks pitched six innings of one-run ball. He allowed five hits, struck out five and walked none.
Chicago jumped in front with one run in each of the first two innings. Javier Báez singled in Kris Bryant in the first. Then Jake Marisnick smashed a one-out triple over the head of Tyler Naquin in center in the second and scored on Hendricks’ two-out single up the middle.
Cincinnati got one back on Tucker Barnhart’s RBI double in the second, and then went ahead to stay with two runs in the seventh.
The Reds loaded the bases against Dan Winkler (1-1), who hit Jonathan India with one out to push across the tying run. Another run scored on Jesse Winker’s infield out before Andrew Chafin struck out Nick Castellanos to end the inning.
“It was a tough day,” Marisnick said. “We couldn’t come up with a big hit. It’s been tough, but you won’t see guys hanging their heads. Our pitchers are giving us a chance, but it’s been eluding us lately.”
Cubs: 2B Nico Hoerner (left hamstring strain) was activated from the injured list. He went 0 for 4 in his first big league game since May 25. INF Sergio Alcántara was sent down to make room on the roster.
Reds: Injured relievers Tejay Antone (right forearm inflammation) and Lucas Sims (sprained right elbow) are expected to start throwing again soon and could be back by the end of July, Bell said. Antone has been on the injured list since June 9, and Sims since June 24.
Cubs: Right-hander Zach Davies (5-5) is expected to start Monday in the opener of a four-game series against Philadelphia. Left-hander Matt Moore (0-1) takes the mound for the Phillies.
Reds: Right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez (3-3) starts Monday at Kansas City. Left-hander Mike Minor (6-6) gets the ball for the Royals, who lead the all-time series with the Reds 17-12.