CINCINNATI (AP) — Manager Joe Maddon’s move was so wacky that even his own players laughed. And when it worked better than anyone could have imagined, the Cubs were celebrating again.
Kris Bryant singled home the tiebreaking run in the 15th inning, and Maddon used three pitchers in left field while Chicago beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-2 on Tuesday night in the longest game of the season for both teams.
With the Cubs out of position players, relievers Travis Wood and Spencer Patton (1-0) alternated between left field and the mound in the 14th inning, which ended with Patton getting the final out. Wood then finished it off with reliever Pedro Strop in left.
“When I went out there to do it originally, the infielders were kind of giggling,” said Maddon, who had never done anything like it as a manager.
It worked perfectly as things started falling in place for the Cubs again.
Bryant’s only hit on Tuesday — a single off J.J. Hoover (1-2) — snapped the tie. Javier Baez added a grand slam in the 15th, the sixth career allowed by Hoover, which is a Reds record. Then it was just a matter of figuring out how to finish it off.
“For the left fielder to pitch to one batter and then go back — yeah, that’s crazy,” Baez said. “But we had fun.”
The National League’s top team went 1-6 last week but has pulled out of the downturn by winning the first two games of a series against the Reds. The Cubs hit five homers — three by Bryant — while taking the opener 11-8.
Eugenio Suarez singled home the tying run with two outs in the ninth off Hector Rondon, his third blown save in 16 chances, setting the game on its meandering course.
“There were a lot of instances that suggest things were going to go our way, but we weren’t able to get it done,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “That’s a tough one, a really tough one.”
Maddon had talked to Wood about playing left field in such a circumstance. The reliever hadn’t played outfield since high school, but takes fly balls during batting practice to stay ready. None of the Reds hit the ball to left field with a Cubs reliever out there, which was a disappointment for Wood.
“It was definitely interesting, a lot of fun,” Wood said. “I would have liked to have recorded an out.”
Ben Zobrist led off the game with a homer off left-hander John Lamb. Left-hander Jon Lester singled home another run and allowed only one hit until the eighth inning, when Billy Hamilton homered. The Cubs’ closer couldn’t hold on.
A lot of the focus Tuesday was on Bryant, who was coming off a historic performance.
Bryant became the first major league player to hit three homers and two doubles in a game on Monday night. He set a Cubs record with 16 total bases and became the youngest Cubs player to hit three homers in a game since Ernie Banks did it in 1955, also at the age of 24.
Bryant broke his three-homer bat the first time up on Tuesday, cracking it on a groundout. The bat boy retrieved it and took it to the Major League Baseball authenticator, who labeled the bat and safely stored it. Bryant flied out, walked twice, fouled out with two runners aboard for the final out in the 10th, and struck out in the 13th before driving in the go-ahead run.
Cubs 11, Reds 8
CINCINNATI (AP) — When Kris Bryant reached the dugout after his record-setting third homer, thousands of Cubs fans in the stands cheered for a curtain call. A few teammates wanted him to take a bow, too.
Nope. That was the only thing Chicago’s top hitter wouldn’t do on his historic night.
Bryant became the first major leaguer to hit three homers and two doubles in a game, and Jake Arrieta added a solo shot in the ballpark where he threw a no-hitter in April, setting up an 11-8 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.
The Cubs pulled out of their 1-6 slide behind a tandem that’s had some huge moments in Cincinnati.
“The last couple of weeks haven’t been what I’ve wanted, so I figured I’m due,” said Bryant, who hit three homers one time during a college game with San Diego.
Arrieta (12-2) threw his second career no-hitter on April 21 during a 16-0 win over the Reds. Bryant led the way with a pair of homers in that game, including a grand slam that gave him a career-high six RBIs.
Arrieta struggled in his return to Cincinnati, giving up a season-high five runs in five innings, but Bryant drove in six runs again to help the right-hander pull through. Bryant’s 16 total bases were a Cubs record, and his five hits marked a career high.
“That keeps you back from those 0-for-20 stretches when you have a game like this,” Bryant said.
Bryant doubled home a run in the first, hit a solo homer in the third and added a three-run shot deep into the upper deck in left field in the fourth off Dan Straily (4-5). His solo shot in the eighth came off Ross Ohlendorf, who also gave up a homer to Anthony Rizzo.
Most of the 31,762 fans wore Cubs blue and demanded a curtain call after the third homer. Bryant wouldn’t oblige, considering it inappropriate on the road.
“He enjoys the moment, but he doesn’t go over the top with it,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s very old school. He doesn’t spike the ball in the end zone. He just lays it down or hands it to the official.”
Arrieta hit an opposite-field drive — his fourth career home run — in the fifth inning off Michael Lorenzen for an 8-3 lead.
The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner became the league’s first 12-game winner despite his worst pitching performance of the season. Arrieta walked a season-high five batters in five innings, and four of them scored. The five runs allowed were his most since he gave up six during a 7-2 loss at Great American Ball Park on Aug. 28, 2014.
“I was my own worst enemy tonight,” Arrieta said. “I’m not happy about it.”
Adam Duvall had a two-run double in the first inning, Jay Bruce singled home a run and Joey Votto hit a two-run homer off Arrieta, who threw 93 pitches in five innings.
“He still had his stuff,” Bruce said. “He just wasn’t locating it very well. We had some walks and put some hits together. That’s baseball.”
The Cubs have the best record in the majors at 49-26 despite their slump last week, characterized by a lack of clutch hitting and poor relief pitching. The bullpen gave up three runs and four hits Monday, including Votto’s second homer in the ninth inning.
The Cubs improved to 7-1 against the Reds this season and have won 10 of their last 11 vs. their NL Central rivals.