When Cubs take lead in top of the 9th

A previous post examined how often the Cubs have won and lost games in which they took the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning.

They have done so in 418 games since 1915, first season for which has searchable play-level data.

They won 379 of them, for a winning percentage of .907.

Naturally, I wondered if the Cubs have fared as well when they have taken the lead in the top of the ninth inning.



I identified 333 times that the Cubs went ahead in the top of the ninth, which is 20 percent fewer than they did in the bottom of the eighth.

The score was tie when they went ahead in 263 games, which is 79 percent of the games. They trailed in 70, 21 percent.

The percentages when they took the lead in the bottom of the eighth were virtually identical: 80 percent when tied and 20 percent when trailed.



Hits gave the Cubs a ninth-inning lead in 273 of the 333 games on the road -- 82 percent, the same as at home in the eighth.

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

123 singles

92 home runs

47 doubles

21 sacrifice flies

17 outs

11 triples

9 walks

8 errors

3 sacrifice bunts

2 strikeouts

The outs in the list were fly balls on which outfielders made throwing errors, groundouts and forceouts.



The Cubs never have gone ahead when a run scored on a double play with nobody out in the top of the ninth, just as they never have in the bottom of the eighth.

They have taken the lead on double plays 76 times in the top of other innings, including 4 in the seventh and 3 in the 10th.

The most recent of the 10th-inning, go-ahead double plays was just last month, at Aug. 16, at Washington. The Cubs gave up a tying run in the bottom of the inning, then scored twice in the 11th to win, 7-5.

In 1986, at San Francisco, the double-play run in the 10th stood up for a 4-3 victory.

In 1965, at Cincinnati, they gave up a tying run in the bottom half and lost, 2-3, in the 14th.



The first go-ahead strikeout in the top of the ninth came on July 25, 1996, at Colorado. With the score tied at 8, 1 out and runners on second and third, Scott Servais swung and missed at a 1-2 pitch.

The ball eluded the catcher, allowing the runner to score. The other runner then came home on a single and the Cubs went on to win, 10-8.

On May 11, 2012, at Milwaukee, the Cubs tied the game at 5 on a 1-out triple by David DeJesus. He put the Cubs in front moments later, when Starlin Castro fanned on a 2-2 pitch and the ball got away.

Castro reached first, stole second and scored on a single, putting the Cubs on top, 7-5.

But the Brewers got a 2-run homer with 1 out in the bottom of the ninth. The tie remained until the 13th, when Cubs reliever Lendy Castillo hit batters on consecutive pitches. He got a strike on the next man, then surrendered singles on the next 2 pitches, resulting in a 7-8 loss.



So, how many of the 333 games did the Cubs win after taking the lead in the top of the ninth?


They lost 47 -- 8 more than they lost after taking the lead in the bottom of the eighth, in 85 fewer games.

They tied 2.

Their winning percentage after they went ahead in the top of the ninth is .856, a significant 51 points lower than their .907 when they took the lead in the bottom of the eighth.



41 of the losses came between 1915 and 1993, about 1 every 2 years.

The 6 since then are 1 every 5 years.

The most recent of those 6 was on July 4 of this season, at Milwaukee.

Seiya Suzuki's inside-the-park homer broke a tie with 1 out in the top of the ninth. The Brewers pulled even on a 2-out, bases-loaded walk in the bottom half.

The Cubs loaded the bases with 1 out in the 10th but failed to score. Then ex-Cub Victor Caratini slammed a 3-run homer with 1 out in the 10th.

It was the Cubs' first loss after taking the lead in the top of the ninth in more than 6 years, since June 15, 2016. They tied the game with a run in the ninth, then took the lead with another in the 12th, only to give up 2 in the bottom of the inning.


The Cubs have suffered 2 such losses in 6 seasons, last in 1990.

The next year, they squandered 3 leads gained in the ninth inning, the only time they have done so.

They lost at Pittsburgh, 4-5, by giving up 2 runs in the ninth, and at Philadelphia twice: 2-6, by giving up a tying run in the ninth, then a grand slam in the 11th, and 5-6, by giving up 3 runs in the ninth.



The 1991 loss to the Pirates was 1 of 3 in which the Cubs scored 4 runs to take the lead in the top of the ninth, only to lose anyway.

On June 15, 1960, at Milwaukee, the Cubs were shut out by Warren Spahn through 8 innings. Then singles by Richie Ashburn, Bob Will and Ernie Banks produced a run and knocked out Spahn. Ed Bouchee slammed a 3-run homer off Don McMahon to tie the game.

The Braves responded with a single, walk and 1-out RBI single off Seth Moreland. Dick Drott replaced Moreland and gave up a game-losing hit to Al Spangler.


The Cubs also were scoreless when they came to bat at Pittsburgh on April 19, 1991. With 2 out and runners on second and third, Dwight Smith was hit by a pitch. Andre Dawson pinch hit and walloped the first pitch for a go-ahead grand slam.

But 2 singles and a wild pitch by Dave Smith tied the game. A bunt, a groundout and 2 intentional walks brought up Jeff King, who delivered a walk-off hit.


On May 14, 2000, the Cubs and Expos engaged in a wild game.

The Cubs led, 7-4, midway through the fourth. The Expos then scored 5 runs to take a 9-7 lead.

The Cubs tied the game with 2 runs in the sixth and regained the lead with 2 in the seventh.

But they trailed again, 11-13, after the Expos scored 4 times in the eighth.

With 2 outs and runners on the corner in the Cubs' ninth, Sammy Sosa singled. Henry Rodriguez followed with a 3-run shot that made the score 15-13.

Rick Aguilera struck out the first batter in the bottom half, then never got another out. A single, a game-tying home run, another single, a steal and an intentional walk set the stage for a walk-off hit.



The 2012 game, described above, in which the Cubs took the lead on a ninth-inning strikeout at Milwaukee, is the only only game in the past 50 years in which the Cubs scored 3 runs in the ninth to go in front.

They had tallied 3 in games in 1919, 1934, 1945, 1952 and 1972.

The Cubs scored 2 runs in the ninth to take the lead in 16 games and 1 run in 22.



The 1972 game in which they scored 3 in the top of the ninth was on Aug. 21, at San Diego. Billy Williams broke a tie at 2 with a 3-run homer.

The Padres loaded the bases with 1 out in the bottom half. A run scored on a groundout to third, then Johnny Jeter slammed a homer off Jack Aker to beat the Cubs, 6-5.

The only other game in which the Cubs gave up 4 runs in the bottom of the ninth after taking the lead in the top was more than half a century earlier, on June 9, 1922, at Philadelphia.

The score was tied at 4 after 8 innings. The first 2 Cubs in the ninth struck out, but the next walked and pitcher Tony Kaufman homered.

Kaufman walked the first batter in the bottom, then gave up a single. A bunt advanced the runners and a groundout scored the lead runner.

But Kaufman could not get the third out. He issued another walk and, after a steal, served up a 3-run homer to John Peters.



Five times, the Cubs took a lead in the top of the ninth, then lost by yielding 3 runs in the bottom half.

The most recent was the 15-16 loss at Montreal in 2000, described above.

On July 14, 1921, at Boston, neither the Cubs nor Braves scored through 8 innings. The Cubs scored twice in the ninth, on a pair of 2-out RBI singles. The Braves responded with 3 singles that loaded the bases. An error scored 1 run and a walk-off double scored 2 more.

On Aug. 12, 1961, at Milwaukee, the Cubs took a 6-5 lead in the ninth on 4 walks, the last 3 with 2 out. With 1 out in the bottom, Dick Drott slipped a third strike past Hank Aaron, but then gave up a single and a 3-run homer to Frank Thomas.

On April 30, 1968, at Pittsburgh, 2-out RBI singles in the ninth by Al Spangler and Don Kessinner put the Cubs in front, 3-1. A leadoff single, a 1-out walk and another single made the score 3-2. Bill Stoneman came in and struck out the next batter, then surrendered a 2-run double.

On Sept. 30, 1991, at Philadelphia, the Cubs broke a tie at 3 on a walk, single and sacrifice fly, then added a run on a 2-out hit by Andre Dawson. The Phillies closed to within 4-5 on a walk and 2 singles. After a strikeout, another single off Paul Assenmacher tied the game. Bob Scanlan issued a walk, then the winning run came home on a sacrifice fly.


The Cubs gave up 2 runs in the ninth inning of 22 losses and 1 run in 18.



Of the Cubs' 47 losses after taking the lead in the top of the ninth, 26 came in the bottom of the inning and 21 in extra innings.

Number of games they lost in specific extra innings after allowing their hosts to tie the game in the ninth:

10th inning: 7

11th inning: 4

12th inning: 5

13th inning: 4

18th inning: 1

In one of the losses, the Cubs scored once and the Nationals scored twice in the 12th.

In another, the Cubs and Mets both scored in the 11th, then the Mets scored in the 13th.

In a third, the Cubs and Cardinals both scored in the 11th, then the Cubs scored once and the Cards twice in the 13th.



7: Pirates

6: Dodgers (5 at Brooklyn, 1 at Los Angeles)

5: Expos/Nationals (4 at Montreal, 1 at Washington)

5: Giants (3 at New York, 2 at San Francisco)

5: Phillies

4: Braves (1 at Boston, 2 at Milwaukee, 1 at Atlanta)

4: Reds

2: Astros, Brewers, Cardinals, Marlins, Padres

1: Mets

0: Diamondbacks, Rockies

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