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Cubs 3, Reds 2: David Bote, starman

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The Cubs third baseman walked it off again!

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile — David Bowie

I was thinking, in the 10th inning, when David Bote went down 0-2 to Raisel Iglesias, that he would be looking for and waiting for a specific pitch to come after that, and if he got it...

Well... he got it. Man, did he get it! [VIDEO]

You know, some players never hit a walkoff home run in their entire career. Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, in a great 16-year career with 282 lifetime homers, hit one.

And David Bote now has two in two weeks. It was a great way to end a tightly-played game for the Cubs’ third straight win, 3-2 over the Reds. More fun facts about Bote’s walkoff:

There are some other stories worth telling about this game, so let’s begin with another unlikely hero, Alec Mills, recalled from Triple-A Iowa to make his first major-league start after four relief appearances (three for the Royals in 2016, one for the Cubs in July).

And Mills was very, very good. He doesn’t have great velocity, but he mixed up his pitches well and hit his locations. He made two mistakes, both hit for doubles in the second inning that scored a Cincinnati run. The first double was originally ruled a home run by Mason Williams, but it was called back on review [VIDEO].

The ball hit one of the steel basket supports and bounced back into the field of play. I don’t think, in the 48 years that basket has been there, I’ve ever seen a ball hit one of those before. If it had hit a couple of inches to the left or right, it would have been in the basket for a home run. But since it didn’t go over the yellow line at the front of the basket and bounced back onto the field, it was ruled a double. In the end it didn’t matter since Phillip Ervin followed with another double, scoring a run.

But other than that, Mills was terrific. He allowed only one other hit, a first-inning single, and issued a two-out walk in the sixth after an error by Kyle Schwarber prolonged the inning. That walk brought Joe Maddon out to replace Mills, who left to a loud ovation. I’d guess he’s put himself in line for another start, next Wednesday against the Mets, unless Mike Montgomery is ready to reclaim his rotation spot by then. Just outstanding work by Mills.

Meanwhile, Matt Harvey was mowing down Cubs hitters, looking like the 2015 version of Harvey. He was hitting 95 on the Wrigley pitch speed meter and the Cubs had just two baserunners through the first five innings, a two-out single by Mills (his first big-league at-bat and hit) in the third and a one-out walk by Javier Baez in the fourth. Both were erased: Mills on a double play, Baez caught stealing, so Harvey faced the minimum 15 hitters through five. Think the Brewers are regretting not finishing their possible trade for Harvey?

The Cubs got to him in the sixth. Willson Contreras led off with a single, and after Tommy La Stella flied to left as a pinch-hitter, Albert Almora Jr. and Daniel Murphy singled to load the bases.

That brought Javy to the plate. [VIDEO]

Baez’s single to right tied the game 1-1. Anthony Rizzo was next, and hit a comebacker. Harvey threw home for one out, and it appeared Rizzo was safe when Reds first baseman Brandon Dixon’s foot was off the base, or so it was ruled by first-base umpire Ben May. But the review crew saw enough of Dixon’s foot on the bag to overturn the call, and the game went to the seventh tied.

Steve Cishek, Carl Edwards Jr. and Justin Wilson went through the seventh and eighth without allowing a run, but again CJ was a bit wild. This is concerning:

Earlier in the year, CJ’s velocity was 95-plus. I don’t see him throwing that fast now, he peaks at about 94. I wonder if the shoulder injury that kept him out for about five weeks earlier in the year is still bothering him.

With two out in the bottom of the eighth and no one on base, Daniel Murphy stepped to the plate [VIDEO].

Murphy’s homer, his first as a Cub, had a soaring arc to it:

Murphy got a huge ovation and a curtain call for giving the Cubs a 2-1 lead. In three games as a Cub he’s 6-for-14 (.429) and has not struck out. Seems to be providing what the team got him for. Then, Murphy was double-switched out of the game for defense, and Bote, who had pinch-hit for Wilson and struck out in the eighth just before Murphy’s homer, stayed in to play third base.

Pedro Strop, who’s been so good closing in Brandon Morrow’s absence... wasn’t in this one. Eugenio Suarez crushed a no-doubt-about-it homer to left and the game was tied. Strop retired the next three hitters and on we went to the last of the ninth.

Anthony Rizzo led off with a walk, but never got past first base as Reds reliever David Hernandez struck out two of the next three hitters, sandwiched around a fly to left, to send the game to extras.

Jesse Chavez, who had warmed up two other times, entered to throw the 10th. At times, I worry about guys who are up and down in the pen coming into the game after throwing too many bullpen pitches, but Chavez seems to be able to handle this. He retired the side 1-2-3.

In the last of the 10th, Contreras tried to bunt his way on but was thrown out. And then it was Bote Time, which is where we came in.

As much as we love these Bote walkoffs — and any kind of walkoff homer is tremendously exciting — this doesn’t mask the fact that Bote’s in a major slump. Since the walkoff slam against the Nationals, he is 2-for-24 with seven strikeouts. Both of those hits are home runs, the one in Detroit Wednesday night, and the walkoff in this one. I’m sure Bote will grind it out and figure out a way to get out of this slump, and maybe today’s home run will help in that. The Cubs need him to continue to hit while Kris Bryant is out.

Dire forecasts of rain and storms turned into a couple of hours of light to moderate rain in the late morning. It all ended shortly after noon, and the game was played in coolish temperatures for late August, just 68 degrees at game time, and a wind blowing out to left that seemed to get stronger as the afternoon went on. None of the homers hit in this one needed any help at all to leave the yard, though.

I found myself picturing the Cardinals and Brewers sitting in their clubhouses getting ready for their night games and watching this game, seeing that walkoff home run, and perhaps being just a little bit demoralized. I can hope so, anyway. The win put the Cubs at a season high 21 games over .500 and, pending Friday night’s Cardinals and Brewers games, put the Cubs 3½ games ahead of St. Louis and four ahead of Milwaukee. It also evened up the team’s record in extra-inning games at 7-7, evened their record against the Reds this year also at 7-7, and put them one over in one-run affairs, 20-19.

The Cubs will go for three straight over the Reds and four in a row overall Saturday afternoon. Jose Quintana will start for the Cubs and Luis Castillo goes for the Reds. Game time again is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage Saturday is via ABC7 Chicago.