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Reds 8, Cubs 6: Late comeback falls short

And Willson Contreras might be injured, as if things aren’t bad enough already.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

First things first.

Willson Contreras singled in the fifth and immediately signaled to the dugout [VIDEO].

Contreras left the game and was replaced by Tony Wolters. What happened?

This doesn’t sound as bad as it might have when Willson left the game, but he has had hamstring troubles in the past (missed significant time in both 2017 and 2019 as a result), so let’s hope he’s all right.

The Cubs took an early lead, gave it all back and more and then mounted a furious comeback attempt in the ninth. That comeback looked pretty good, but it fell short and the Cubs lost again, 8-6 to the Reds.

Kris Bryant smacked Wade Miley’s 11th pitch of the game for a solo home run [VIDEO].

That blast, KB’s seventh of the year, plus an RBI groundout by Nico Hoerner in the second inning gave the Cubs an early 2-0 lead.

Jake Arrieta, though, was about to have his worst outing since he returned to the Cubs. I’ll spare you the details of the carnage, but Arrieta allowed six runs (including a couple of hom runs) and by the sixth inning the Cubs trailed 7-2. Why did that happen, Jake?

Well... that’s an explanation, at least. Let’s hope Jake is correct.

The Cubs bullpen, though, did a good job of holding the Reds down so that the Cubs could try to come back. Justin Steele threw two good innings, striking out five. The Reds scored an unearned run off him in part due to an error by Jake Marisnick, but I thought Steele looked very good in his first action since returning to the ballclub.

Dillon Maples, too, looked very good in two innings of work. The most important thing about Maples’ outing: He didn’t walk anyone. His walk rate overall this year is still way too high (7.1 per nine innings), but over his last four outings covering 4⅓ innings, he’s walked just one and struck out eight. Overall this season Maples has struck out 20 of the 49 batters he’s faced. Maybe, just maybe, he’s turned the corner.

The Cubs began their comeback in the seventh. Eric Sogard led off with a walk. One out later, KB drove him in [VIDEO].

Bryant went to third on a groundout and scored on this infield hit by Javier Baez [VIDEO].

So now it’s 8-4 and things are getting somewhat interesting. The Cubs didn’t score in the eighth, but in the ninth, Sogard led off with a single and took second on defensive indifference. Wolters walked, and Reds manager David Bell brought in Lucas Sims. That didn’t help them, as Sims walked Kris Bryant.

All right, now the tying run is at the plate. A fly ball by Anthony Rizzo to short left was too shallow to score a run, but another fly to left by Javy did plate the Cubs’ fifth run [VIDEO].

Off the bat, you can see Javy thought he might have gotten all of it for a grand slam, but unfortunately, no.

Now there are two out with runners on first and third, and it’s 8-5. Bryant took second on defensive indifference, and Jason Heyward walked to re-load the bases.

Sims then walked Marisnick to force in a run and make it 8-6.

I have to be fair here. This was the reaction of our friends at Red Reporter to those walks:

They’re right. Pitch 6 to Heyward should have been strike three, ending the game:

Same with pitch 4 to Marisnick:

Fair’s fair. These calls were terrible. Yes, they benefitted the Cubs, but... bring on the robot umpires. Plate umpire Marty Foster had a really bad night. Earlier that same inning:

How is pitch 4 a strike?

And earlier in the game:

Seriously, the automated strike zone cannot come soon enough.

Back to the game: It’s now 8-6, the bases are still loaded, and David Bote is the hitter.

Bote missed his chance. He was clearly sitting on “first pitch fastball,” and Tejay Antone, just in the game, threw him a slider that broke right across the middle of the plate. Bote could have hit that ball a long way. Instead, he took strike one. Antone threw strike two, and then Bote grounded out to third on the next pitch, ending the game.

So... I guess you could look at that ninth inning as a sign of life (even though there was some help from umpire Foster), but the Cubs were too deep in the hole to really take advantage. It just ends up as another loss.

The Cubs will try to even up the series Saturday afternoon. Zach Davies, who has his own ship to right, will start for the Cubs and Luis Castillo will go for the Reds. Game time is 3:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.