CINCINNATI (AP) – With the Cubs comfortably ahead, Joe Maddon added to his lore as a manager who’s not afraid to go against tradition and have some fun, too.
Maddon had left-handed Anthony Rizzo play third base in the ninth inning – filling in while Kris Bryant went for precautionary X-rays on his hand – as Chicago finished off a 13-9 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
“Looking at it, the only thing left was (catcher Alex) Avila at third, which is no fun, or Rizzo at third and Avila at first, which is fun, and that’s why we did it,” Maddon said.
Rizzo didn’t get any balls hit his way in his role as only the third left-handed third baseman in Cubs history. George Decker and Jimmy Ryan also played there in the 1800s.
Bryant’s hand was fine – X-rays were negative, and he might miss a day. The National League MVP wasn’t aware that Rizzo had taken his spot in the ninth, and he knew he wouldn’t hear the end of it from his lefty fill-in.
“He’ll put that on his Twitter bio: Third baseman,” Bryant said.
The Cubs’ day not only ended with weirdness, it started that way, too. Ben Zobrist was in the original starting lineup, but couldn’t make it to Cincinnati because he couldn’t find a rental car in Nashville. The Cubs were off on Monday, and Zobrist was in a panic as he tried to get back from his home state.
“Holy smokes, I was flustered for about seven hours today,” said Zobrist, who finally made it to Great American Ball Park about an hour before the first pitch. “It was a nightmare. I’ve had nightmares about being late to games before.”
He was scratched from the lineup, but got his chance in the seventh when the Cubs started their big rally and moved a season-high 10 games over .500.
Chicago loaded the bases with two outs. Javier Baez fell behind 0-2 against left-hander Wandy Peralta (3-4), worked the count full, fouled off a pitch and then singled to right for a pair of runs that tied it 6-6, his bat shattering on impact.
Zobrist pinch-hit and doubled for Chicago’s first lead and was a bit sheepish over the congratulations he received.
“When I got back to the dugout, I said, ‘If you show up for the game when I did today, you’d better do something good,'” Zobrist said.
Chicago sent nine batters to the plate for five more runs in the eighth against Blake Wood, with Zobrist driving in another run.
The nine-run surge in the last three innings preserved John Lackey’s streak of no losses since the All-Star break. He gave up six runs in five innings, including the first of Eugenio Suarez’s two homers and Scooter Gennett’s solo shot. The right-hander is 5-0 in his last seven starts.
Hector Rondon (4-1) escaped a bases-loaded threat in the sixth.
Reds starter Homer Bailey left after only three innings because he felt irritation in the back of his pitching shoulder. Bailey missed the first half of the season while recovering from elbow surgery.
“I probably could’ve continued tonight, but we thought it was better to get out and make sure I can keep going (for the rest of the season),” Bailey said. “I want to finish this thing up right.”
Three different Reds pitchers had a single – Bailey, Kevin Shackelford and Michael Lorenzen. Shackelford’s was his first major league hit. The last time three Reds pitchers had a hit in the same game was May 29, 1999, when Denny Neagle, Steve Parris and Ron Villone had hits during a 24-12 win at Colorado.
The Reds had a few moments of silence pregame to remember Gene Bennett, a long-time scout and front-office executive who died last week.
Drew Storen hit Bryant in the left hand and Rizzo in the right calf in the ninth inning. Both stayed in the game, but the Cubs decided to send Bryant for a precautionary X-ray when Chicago took the field.
Cubs: C Willson Contreras ran before the game and felt good, but manager Joe Maddon doesn’t want to push him too fast as he recovers from a strained right hamstring that landed him on the DL on Aug. 11. He said there’s no target date for his return.
Reds: RH Scott Feldman had surgery to clean out his right knee and will miss the rest of the season. He’s been on the DL twice in the second half of the season because of the knee.
Cubs: LH Mike Montgomery (3-6) moves back into the rotation, replacing the injured Jon Lester. It’ll be his ninth start of the season and his third consecutive appearance against Cincinnati. On Aug. 17, he threw 4 1/3 shutout relief innings.
Reds: RH Asher Wojciechowski (3-2) makes his eighth start and second career appearance against the Cubs. He’s 2-2 as a starter with a 7.39 ERA.
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