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Cubs 7, Reds 4: Don’t you just love Reds pitching?

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The game wasn’t even in Cincinnati and Cubs hitters had fun.

Tommy La Stella certainly liked hitting Reds pitching on Saturday
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

MESA, Arizona — Over the last three seasons Cubs hitters have feasted off Reds pitchers. The Cubs have gone 40-17 against the Reds in that time span and hit 100 home runs off Reds pitching in those 57 games.

Only one home run came in this one, off the bat of non-roster catcher Ali Solis, but the Cubs smacked out 12 hits and drew seven walks and defeated the Reds 7-4. With the two tie games this week, the Cubs have not lost since the first game of the spring, a week ago Friday, and in the span since have six wins and two ties.

Wins and losses mean nothing in spring training, given who’s playing, so let’s look at some of the more important individual performances. Tyler Chatwood looked sharp in his two-inning outing, issuing just one walk. He was helped out by a fine diving catch by Ian Happ in center field. Happ looks much more comfortable out there this year than last; he’ll never be Albert Almora Jr.’s equal as a center fielder, but he does look like he can be at least competent there, and with his bat that’s important. Today with the bat, Happ was 0-for-3 with a walk.

Kris Bryant, still recovering from an illness, took two at-bats at DH today, hitting a double to center field in one of them. Among the other regulars, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber each had a single in two at-bats, and Tommy La Stella hit two doubles and scored twice.

The starters all had departed by the sixth inning, by which time the Cubs had a 3-0 lead thanks in part to three hits by Mike Freeman. Freeman, who’s likely in competition with Ryan Court for the “injury replacement” infielder spot at Iowa, has hit pretty well, but then, so has Court (though Court was 0-for-1 with a walk in this one).

Cubs relievers who will make the major-league team did well today. Justin Wilson allowed a single but was otherwise unscored on, and more importantly, threw strikes and didn’t walk anyone. He seems to have tamed last year’s walk demon. It’s early, of course, but the signs are positive.

Mike Montgomery also had a scoreless inning, helped out by some slick defense. Happ made another nice grab, and David Bote made an outstanding stop at third base on a sharp ground ball by Eugenio Suarez and an excellent throw to retire Suarez at first.

Carl Edwards Jr. allowed a leadoff single to Tucker Barnhart, but Chris Gimenez threw his catching counterpart out trying to steal.

It was guys heading to Iowa who had trouble in the late innings. After some of the sub Cubs put together a four-run seventh off Oliver Perez (who looks done), including Solis’ three-run homer, giving the Cubs a 7-0 lead, Rob Zastryzny was touched for a two-run homer in the eighth and Dillon Maples threw a 98 mile per hour fastball that was deposited on the berm with a man on base and two out in the ninth.

Maples, who’s also had trouble with control and command, was at least throwing strikes. And as you can see, the man can bring it at 98. If he can throw strikes like that, he will have major-league success.

The Cubs’ “Respect Bald” event before the game was a great success, with over $80,000 raised for pediatric cancer research. BCB’s Danny Rockett participated and will have a full report soon.

Attendance watch: The gorgeous weather, the best of the spring so far (74 degrees, unlimited sunshine) and the weekend date brought out the second-largest crowd in the history of Sloan Park, 15,516. Season total for six dates: 69,607, or 11,601 per date.

Sunday, the Cubs travel to Talking Stick to face the Diamondbacks. Jon Lester makes his second spring start against Arizona’s Taijuan Walker. The game starts at 2:10 p.m. CT and will be on 670 The Score with Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer. TV coverage via MLB.tv is from Fox Sports Arizona Plus with D-backs announcers Steve Berthiaume and Bob Brenly.