Game one belonged to Johnny Cueto while game two was capped by Billy Hamilton's walk-off single as the Reds went on to sweep both games of a double header with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday at Great American Ballpark.
The Reds (48-42) knocked Travis Wood (7-7) around for three runs in the first to spot Johnny Cueto (9-6) a comfortable in his first start since being named an All-Star on Sunday. Brandon Phillips singled home Hamilton and then scored on a two run homer by Jay Bruce.
That lead held until the sixth when Cueto allowed back-to-back homers to Chris Coghlan and Ryan Sweeney to make it a 3-2 game. Coghlan has been a pain for Reds pitching, going 7-12 in the series with two homers, three RBI and four runs scored.
Cincinnati responded right back in the sixth when Ramon Santiago singled home Chris Heisey. The Cubs (38-51) tried to break free in the seventh against Cueto as they loaded the bases, but Manny Parra came on to shut down the rally with a strikeout of Coghlan and then getting Sweeney to ground out.
Jumbo Diaz retired all three Cubs he faced in the ninth while Neil Ramirez caught a break for the Cubs when he allowed a double to Santiago, but Heisey was thrown out at home trying to score from first. That run was almost needed to keep the lead as Aroldis Chapman allowed a hit and a walk to bring the go ahead run to the plate, but he struck out Sweeney for his 18th save of the season.
Game two saw the MLB debut of David Holmberg, which was a game he would like to forget. Coghlan and Mike Olt each hit two run homers while Anthony Rizzo hit a solo homer to make it a quick 5-0 hole for the Reds to climb out of. Carlos Contreras took over for Holmberg in the third inning and began a run of 6.2 innings of scoreless relief for the Reds.
Tsuyoshi Wada pitched well enough in his spot start to get the win, but every Cubs pitcher would be touched up for one run. Wada's was an unearned run in the fifth as Junior Lake corralled a fly ball by Hamilton with the bases loaded, but Lake's throw in ricocheted off the pitchers mound and allowed Skip Schumaker to score. Wada escaped the jam by picking off Tucker Barnhart at first.
Barnhart was called up to take the spot of Brayan Pena, who had been on the paternity list, but Pena returned on Tuesday to the roster. Instead of Barnhart returning to Louisville, he will stay up as the Reds placed Joey Votto on the disabled list for the second time this year. Pena, along with Todd Fraizer and Jay Bruce (who made his MLB debut at first on Monday), have all helped fill in the gap left by Votto. If Pena sees more playing time then look for Barnhart to stay up with the big club to serve as Devin Mesoraco's back up.
J.J. Hoover came on in relief of Contreras and recorded all six outs in his two innings of relief with strikeouts. Brian Schlitter came on for the Cubs in the sixth and allowed Frazier to double and score on a ground ball by Bruce. The Cubs then fell apart in the seventh as Wesley Wright walked the only hitter he faced and then Carlos Villanueva walked the next two.
This brought up Mesoraco for a huge pinch hit opportunity, but Villanueva got him to bounce into a double play that scored Schumaker. Hamilton followed with an RBI triple to make it 5-4, but Frazier grounded out to end the inning.
Logan Ondrusek (3-2) came on in relief of Hoover and worked two scoreless innings to set up the Reds rally. Pedro Strop was the next Cubs victim in the eighth as he allowed a leadoff single to Brandon Phillips and then gave up a double to Bruce to tie the game.
In the ninth, it was Hector Rondon's (1-3) turn to give up a run and this time it would be in dramatic fashion. Pena came on to pinch hit and started the inning with a single. Mike Leake, the winner of Monday's game, came on to pinch run and was able to advance to third on a single by Mesoraco. That set up Hamilton to be the hero as he sent a looping line drive that just landed inside the chalk of the left field line to score Leake and extend the Reds win streak to four games.
With the Reds already claiming the series victory, they'll look to add on Wednesday as Alfredo Simon (11-3, 2.78 ERA) takes on Dallas Beeler (0-1) who is making just his second start of the year. Beeler allowed just one unearned run over six innings, but the lackluster Cubs offense failed to score in a 3-0 loss to the Nationals. Cincinnati also looks to draw closer to the Milwaukee Brewers (52-39) who have lost three straight. The Pirates (47-43) have lost back-to-back games on ninth inning walk-off homers by the Cardinals (49-42) to shake up the standings in the NL Central. The Brewers still sit atop by three games over the Cardinals, while the Reds have cut it to 3.5, and Pittsburgh remains 4.5 back.