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Reds 6, Cubs 2: You can’t win ‘em all

The Cubs dropped the first of a four-game set in Cincinnati.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Reds defeated the Cubs 6-2 Thursday evening.

Really, I could stop right here and you’d probably be just as happy with this recap as reading what’s below. But you come here for a game recap after each game, and by goodness, you are going to get one.

The game turned, obviously, on one inning, the bottom of the sixth. The Cubs and Kyle Hendricks had nursed a 2-0 lead, provided by a two-run double by Javier Baez in the third, that far into the game.

But Hendricks, who had struggled with location and command even while keeping the Reds scoreless through five (especially in a 28-pitch first inning), had a worse time in the sixth.

Billy Hamilton led off with a walk. Right there you know things aren’t good, because Hendricks usually has impeccable control and Hamilton is nearly impossible to walk. Hamilton stole second, but Hendricks retired the next two hitters. Then he walked Joey Votto, no shame there, Votto is an outstanding hitter who draws lots of walks. Scooter Gennett singled, but Hamilton held at third, loading the bases.

Then Hendricks walked Eugenio Suarez, making it 2-1.

With Hendricks’ lack of command, Joe Maddon decided to bring in Randy Rosario to throw to lefthanded-hitting Jesse Winker. This is a completely defensible decision; lefty vs. lefty, Rosario’s been very good so far this year.

Only this time, he wasn’t; it took just two pitches to turn a 2-1 Cubs lead into a 5-2 Reds lead on Winker’s grand slam.

Rosario got worse from there, allowing three more singles that made it 6-2. It was his worst outing as a Cub, and just the second time in 13 appearances that he’d been scored on. It happens.

The Cubs did have a chance to get back in the game; with two out in the seventh, Kris Bryant singled and Jason Heyward doubled. Baez, up next, sliced two balls down the right-field line that landed just foul. Either would have scored two runs if fair, but they weren’t. Baez did wind up drawing a walk to load the bases, and here’s how rare that is:

Give Javy credit for a really good at-bat, eight pitches’ worth.

Anthony Rizzo was next, and he was called out on strikes on a really close pitch [VIDEO].

Reds lefty Amir Garrett had gotten into a scuffle with Baez on a similar play in the Cubs’ last series at GABP, but this time nothing happened. The Cubs also had a pair of runners on base with two out in the eighth (walk by Kyle Schwarber, single by Ian Happ), but pinch-hitter Albert Almora Jr. struck out.

I think I’ll let Joe Maddon sum this one up:

“It happens, man,” Maddon said. “We just had an emotionally tough series. Give us a day. We’ll be back (Friday).”

And so they will.

Before I move on to Friday’s details, props to Jason Heyward, who had his second four-hit game this month. J-Hey is hitting .324/.361/.515 (22-for-68) in June with seven doubles and two home runs.

It’s also good that after Rosario’s bad outing, Rob Zastryzny and Justin Hancock finished up with scoreless innings, giving the rest of the pen the night off. Zastryzny is expected to head back to Iowa today, as Brian Duensing returns from the bereavement list.

Friday, weather permitting, the teams will play the second of this four-game set. Jose Quintana will go for the Cubs and Luis Castillo will start for the Reds. Game time is 6:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage Friday is on WGN.