When Cubs take lead in bottom of the 8th

Last Thursday, Seiya Suzuki hit a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead over the Reds.

Cincinnati scored twice in the ninth and won the game, 4-3.

I reported the next day that the Cubs had lost only 4 previous games at home since 1915 following a tie-breaking homer in the eighth.

They have won 69 such games, including 15 in a row before the loss to the Reds.


Of course, the Cubs also have taken the lead in the bottom of the eighth on multi-run homers that erased deficits.

And they have gone in front on other types of hits, as well as errors, sacrifice bunts and flies, other outs, walks and batters hit by pitches.



Using data at, I identified 418 times since 1915 that the Cubs took a lead in the bottom of the eighth -- about 4 times a year.

The Cubs have played 8,468 games at home in those 108 seasons, so the 418 games in which they took the lead are 4.9 percent, or 1 of every 20 games played.

The score was tied when they went ahead in 334 games. They trailed in 84.



Hits gave the Cubs the lead in 342 of the 418 games, 82 percent.

Here is the breakdown by type of play, from most to least frequent:

151 singles

116 home runs

58 doubles

33 sacrifice flies

17 triples

17 outs

15 errors

7 walks

3 sacrifice bunts

1 hit by pitch


Note that 7 of the outs were fly balls that would have been scored as sacrifice flies under scoring rules adopted in 1950. The 10 other outs were grounders or forceouts.

Oddly, the Cubs never have gone ahead when a run scored on a double play with nobody out in the bottom of the eighth. They have taken the lead on double plays 54 times in the bottom of other innings, but only 6 of them after the fourth: 4 in the fifth, 1 in the sixth and 1 in the seventh. The latter 2 came in 1942 and 1939, respectively.



The lone batter hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and the score tied in the bottom of the eighth was Sammy Taylor, against the Dodgers on Sept. 17, 1960.

15 other pitches that struck a batter in other innings forced in a run, including 5 walk-offs: 2 in the ninth (1948 and 2020), 2 in the 10th (1972 and 1992) and 1 in the 11th (2008).



So, how many of the 418 games did the Cubs win after taking the lead in the bottom of the eighth?

379, which is 90.7 percent.

That is lower than their 94.4 percent in all games since 1915, at home and on the road, in which they led going to the ninth inning.

Alas, separate data for home and road games is not available.


The 39 games that the Cubs lost after going ahead in the bottom of the eighth represent about 1 every 3 years.

Last week's loss to the Reds was their second such loss this season.

On June 5, they snapped a tie at 2 in the eighth on back-to-back 1-out doubles by Patrick Wisdom and P.J. Higgins.

The Cardinals pulled even in the ninth, on a leadoff triple and 1-out single, then scored twice in the 11th to beat the Cubs, 5-3.

The Cubs also had 2 similar defeats in 2019 and in 5 previous seasons: 1938, 1969, 1986, 1992 and 2005.

In 1966, they tied, then lost 3 times.



One of the losses in 1966 was on July 20, against the Reds.

With 2 outs in the eighth, the score tied at 1, and runners on first and second, Ernie Banks smacked a double. Byron Browne then singled home 2 runs, giving the Cubs a 4-1 lead.

But after the first Red was retired in the ninth, the next 2 singled. So did the third, and an error on the play brought home a second run, making the score 4-3 and leaving a runner on second.

After a change of pitchers and an intentional walk, a triple put the Reds on top, 5-4, and that's how the game ended.


The Cubs have taken a 3-run lead in the bottom of the eighth, then lost, just 1 other time.

It happened on June 12, 1943, also against the Reds.

In the eighth, Lou Novikoff tripled home 2 runs, then scored on a single by Peanuts Lowrey.

But with 1 out in the ninth, the Reds strung together a single, double, triple and single, tying the game.

After they went ahead, 4-3, on a 2-out homer in the 10th, the Cubs avoided defeat on a 2-out triple by Lowrey and a single by Chico Hernandez.

The first 2 Reds singled in the 11th, and an error on the second hit put runners on second and third. The lead runner was erased on a double play, then a walk and a single produced the run that earned the Reds a 6-5 victory.



Here is how many runs the Cubs allowed in the ninth inning of games they ultimately lost after having taken the lead in the bottom of the eighth:

1 run: 12

2 runs: 8

3 runs: 8

4 runs: 6

5 runs: 4

6 runs: 1

The 12 games with 1 run, of course, all went into extra innings before the Cubs lost.



The biggest ninth-inning collapse came on May 31, 2011, against the Astros.

The Cubs were scoreless going to the eighth. Geovany Soto led off with a double and pinch runner Brad Snyder scored the tying run when the pitcher threw wildly to third on a bunt by Tyler Colvin.

After another bunt, Darwin Barney doubled home Colvin. A strikeout and intentional walk brought up Aramis Ramirez, doubled home Barney.

But closer Carlos Marmol imploded in the ninth: single, double, 2-run double, bunt, RBI single, stolen base, walk, 3-run homer.

Final score: Astros 7, Cubs 3.



Aug. 12, 1953: The Cubs took 6-5 lead with run in the eighth on Dee Fondy's triple and a sacrifice fly. The Reds then began the ninth against Johnny Klippstein with a double, RBI single, 2 singles and grand slam, making score 6-10.

Sept. 19, 1967: Billy Williams' solo in the eight put the Cubs in front, 2-1. The Giants tied the game on a walk, bunt and RBI single off Ferguson Jenkins. He gave up another single, then reliever Rob Gardner served up a 2-run double. The Giants added 2 more runs on a pair of 2-out RBI singles, making score 2-6.

May 13, 1976: The Cubs were ahead, 5-4, after scoring in the eighth on 2 walks, a bunt and a sacrifice fly. The Giants tied the score on a double, an out and a triple off Bruce Sutter. Mike Garman yielded a tie-breaking single, then another single, a 2-run triple and a fielder's choice gave the Giants a 9-5 cushion.

Aug. 7, 1996: A 2-out homer in the eighth by Mike Hubbard snapped a tie at 6. The Mets pulled even on a double, bunt, intentional walk and wild pitch by Terry Adams They went in front on 2-out, bases-loaded walk by Bob Patterson, who then surrendered a 3-run triple, making the score 11-7.



The Cubs have played 32 games since 1915 in which they took the lead in the bottom of the eighth, lost the lead in the ninth, but wound up winning.

Here is how many runs the Cubs allowed in the ninth inning of those games:

1 run: 21

2 runs: 5

3 runs: 5

4 runs: 1



On June 9, 1961, the Cubs opened a 6-0 lead over the Braves after 4 innings.

A 3-run homer in the seventh narrowed the Cubs' advantage to 6-5, then a solo homer by Eddie Mathews tied the game with 2 out in the eighth.

In the bottom of the inning, Bob Will singled, was bunted to second and scored on a double by pinch hitter Billy Williams.

A walk and RBI singles by Don Zimmer and Ron Santo put the Cubs ahead, 9-6.

Don Elston came in to pitch for the Cubs in the ninth. He gave up an infield single, then another, before retiring the next 2 hitters.

But he hit the batter after that, then served up a grand slam home run to cost the Cubs the lead.

The Braves called upon Warren Spahn to get the final 3 outs. Instead, he hit George Altman and yielded a single to Ed Bouchee. A fly ball by Will then tied the score and knocked out Spahn.

Jerry Kindall greeted Carl Willey with a single that sent Bouchee to second. Moe Thacker then lined a hit to right and Bouchee raced home to give the Cubs an 11-10 victory.



These were the 3-run ninth innings:

May 16, 1932: The Cubs were 1 out from a 9-8 victory when the Phillies hit a 2-run homer. The first 3 Cubs then singled and Riggs Stephenson's hit scored the runners from second and third to win the game 11-10.

May 19, 1959: The Cubs fell behind the Phillies, 5-7, in the top of the ninth. In the bottom, they loaded the bases with 1 out. An infield error made the score 6-7 and a 2-run single by Jim Marshall completed the comeback, 8-7.

July 26, 1961: Ernie Banks' 3-run homer in the eight broke a tie at 3. With 2 out and nobody on in the ninth, the Cardinals turned a walk, a single, an RBI double and a 2-run single by Stan Musial into the tying runs. The Cubs won in the 12th, when Ron Santo singled with 1 out, went to third on a groundout and a wild pitch and scored on bases-loaded hit by Bob Will.

June 28, 1972: A walk and a homer to open the ninth brought the Mets to within 7-8, then they pulled even on a 2-out single. In the 10th, Dave Kingman was hit by a pitch and went to third on a single by Greg Gross. After an intentional walk, Mick Kelleher's squeeze bunt ended the game, 9-8.

July 16, 1999: Ron Coomer of the Twins tied the game at 8 with a leadoff homer in the ninth. A single, a bunt, a single and a forceout put Minnesota in front, 10-8. The Cubs then got a leadoff homer from Jeff Blauser, singles from Curtis Goodwin and Mark Grace and an RBI double from Sammy Sosa to tie the score. An intentional walk loaded the bases for Henry Rodriguez, whose fly ball landed in deep left-center for a walk-off hit.



Since the 1999 game, the Cubs have won 5 games in which they took the lead in the bottom of the eighth, lost it in the ninth and still won.

In each, they gave up 1 run in the ninth.

They beat the Phillies, 5-4, in 2000; the Brewers, 4-2, in 2004; then the Cardinals, 5-4, in 10 innings, and the Dodgers, 9-8, in 11 innings, both in 2006.

The last such win was on Aug. 24, 2018.

Daniel Murphy's 2-out solo homer in the eighth put the Cubs in front of the Reds, 2-1.

The first batter in the ninth homered off Pedro Strop, tying the game.

David Bote broke the tie with a 1-out homer in the 10th.


2006 was the most recent of 7 seasons in which had 2 such wins and the only 1 in the past 40 years. The others were in 1930, 1953, 1959, 1961, 1978 and 1980.

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