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Reds 3, Cubs 2: What is it with the Reds?

The Cubs just cannot solve Cincinnati.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I wish I could explain it. I’m sure Joe Maddon wishes he could explain it.

Let’s put it this way. The Reds aren’t a bad team, not anymore. They’ve got some guys who can legitimately hit, they’ve got a couple of decent young starters and the back end of their bullpen is pretty good.

And since June 9 they are the best team in the National League, no joke, after their 3-2 win over the Cubs Friday afternoon they are 17-6 in that time frame. Over that same period the Cubs are just 12-12, and their six-game winning streak ended with the defeat.

I mean... Mike Montgomery didn’t pitch all that badly, except for some walks and two hit batters that got him in trouble in the third and fourth innings, he just didn’t throw well enough to win. The Cubs pen did a good job, throwing four scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks and striking out five, including a pair of K’s from Justin Wilson with a runner on second and one out in the ninth. That was K’s of pretty good hitters, too, Scooter Gennett and Joey Votto.

The Cubs just couldn’t get enough offense going. They had a chance with runners on first and second with one out in the second: double play by Willson Contreras.

They did score a run to make it 3-1 in the fifth, on a bloop double by Contreras. Two groundouts scored Willson; that’s good, but it’s not real efficient.

In the seventh, the Cubs had two runners on with two out and Albert Almora Jr. popped up to end the inning.

Finally, it appeared they had something going in the eighth. Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo singled with one out, and a Ben Zobrist sac fly made it 3-2. Rizzo tagged at first and took second on that out, a nice hustle play, but after Kyle Schwarber was intentionally passed, Contreras grounded out to end the inning.

The last three batters in that inning faced Reds closer Raisel Iglesias. That’s just the second time all year he’s thrown more than 1⅓ innings and the first time he was asked to post a five-out save.

Not many in the sellout crowd of 41,434 had departed by the time the last of the ninth began. Happ singled with one out and took second on a ground out by pinch-hitter Victor Caratini.

Up stepped Jason Heyward, who had hit the ball hard for outs three times earlier in the game. His medium fly to left ended it, and we were left to wonder what the Cubs have to do to beat the Reds, against whom they’ve lost five in a row and are 3-7 this year.

The game might have been quite different had the wind not been blowing in at 18 miles per hour. Several fly balls hit by both teams might have left the yard had it been one of the hot, sticky days from earlier this week, but wind knocked pretty much everything down Friday afternoon, which apart from the wind was probably the nicest day we’ve had all summer, pleasant temps in the low 70s and no humidity. That’s small consolation for the loss.

One thing that is worth a look from this one is this fantastic diving catch [VIDEO] made by Heyward in the sixth inning.

You can see Jose Peraza, who Heyward robbed, giving J-Hey props. Heyward might have gone 0-for-5 in this one, but his defense is still top-notch.

Montgomery has the right attitude, I think:

This is exactly right. Eventually the Cubs will figure out how to defeat the Reds. Perhaps as soon as tomorrow! That would be nice, right?

It’s Tyler Chatwood’s turn again to show that he still belongs in the rotation. He’ll start for the Cubs against a newly rejuvenated Matt Harvey for the Reds. Game time Saturday is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage is via NBC Sports Chicago.