Chicago Cubs relievers gave up four walks and a hit batter in the ninth inning of their Monday tilt with the Cincinnati Reds, but Jeremy Jeffress finally managed to close the door as the North Siders won an 8-7 nailbiter at the Great American Ballpark.
Craig Kimbrel, brought into the game with a three run lead in the ninth inning, walked four batters and gave up two earned runs and was pulled by manager David Ross with the bases loaded and one out.
Jeffress managed to strike out Phillip Ervin for the second out, and induced a lineout to center field by the dangerous Joey Votto to seal the victory for the Cubs, moving them to 3-1 on the young season.
Starting pitcher Jon Lester had a strong outing for Chicago, throwing five innings of no-hit baseball in his first start of the season for the Cubs. Lester gave up one walk and struck out one batter, throwing 76 pitches before being removed from the game before the sixth inning.
From there, the Cubs’ bullpen went on an adventure, allowing seven earned runs and walking eight batters in four innings of work. Fortunately they were able to barely hang onto the result in the end, preventing the Reds from righting the ship after Cincinnati dropped two of three over the weekend to the Detroit Tigers.
Offensively the Cubs had a solid day, chasing Reds starter Wade Miley early in the contest. Anthony Rizzo hit his third home run of the season, and Steven Souza Jr. picked up a pair of RBI’s in his first start for the Cubs. David Bote also drove in a pair of runs, and Willson Contreras hit his second double of the season and scored a pair of runs in the victory.
The Cubs and Reds will renew acquaintances on Tuesday evening, with Alec Mills taking the ball for Chicago. First pitch is at 6:10 p.m., with the game airing on Marquee Sports Network.