A heavy rain was turning the field slick. The grounds crew was waiting to fetch the tarp. Eugenio Suarez knew this might be the Reds' best chance to take control and win a series.
Suarez singled home the go-ahead run during a fifth-inning downpour and added another RBI single Thursday night as Cincinnati pulled away to a 4-2 victory that slowed the Chicago Cubs' momentum.
Chicago came into the series on the best surge in the majors, having won or split 10 straight series. The NL Central leaders let a late lead get away Wednesday night for a 6-5, 10-inning loss.
This one literally slipped away as the rain intensified in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"Just a really strange inning, and the weather was pretty awful," manager Joe Maddon said.
Jose Quintana (4-3) gave up Jose Peraza's solo homer with one out, his first since April 26. After a pair of singles, Quintana threw back-to-back wild pitches off the sloppy mound that let in a run.
"That was tough," Quintana said. "I slipped on a couple of pitches. It was really clean before that."
Suarez's two-out single made it 3-2 . He added another RBI single in the seventh, and the bullpen held the Cubs to a pair of hits the rest of the way.
"That was tough, but everybody knows that it's part of the game," Suarez said of the conditions. "You have to be ready for every possibility."
Luis Castillo (5-1) gave up two runs on two hits and a walk, all in the first inning. The Cubs got a break when Wilson Contreras' grounder down the line hit the front edge of third base and caromed away from Suarez for a two-run double.
Castillo retired his next 14 batters after the bad-hop hit.
"He kept his composure," manager David Bell said. "He didn't let it faze him. That's part of his growth and confidence. He just kept pitching."
The umpires called for the tarp after Kyle Schwarber lined out to start the sixth inning. Neither starter returned after a one-hour, 51-minute delay.
Raisel Iglesias retired the side in the ninth for his ninth save in 11 chances.
Kris Bryant walked in his first plate appearance, extending his career-best streak to 25 games reaching base safely. It's the longest streak by a Cub since Ben Zobrist also reached in 25 straight games in 2017.
Javier Baez doubled and singled, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games. It's the longest by a Cub since Anthony Rizzo's identical streak in 2017.
Catcher Victor Caratini returned from the 10-day injury list and Taylor Davis was optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Caratini broke a bone in his left hand during a swing on April 11 and had surgery. He started at first base for Chicago and went 0 for 3 with a pair of strikeouts.
Cubs: Rizzo hit pregame again and reported his back was much better. He was out of the lineup for a fourth straight game. Maddon expects him back during a weekend series in Washington, bringing the Cubs' offense closer to full strength. Their four hits Thursday matched their season low.
"We're missing Anthony in the lineup, too," Maddon said. "That's a difference-maker for us."
Reds: 2B Scooter Gennett expects to start on-field activities later this month. He suffered a groin injury during spring training. There's no estimate when he might be able to resume playing.
The Cubs hadn't lost back-to-back games since April 24-25 against the Dodgers. They've won 13 of their last 17 games.
TWICE AS NICE
Cincinnati's Joey Votto had a pair of singles — only his second multi-hit game in May — and extended his hitting streak to a season-high five games. Votto is 9 for 55 (.164) with three RBIs in the month.
Jose Iglesias singled, extending his hitting streak to seven games, the longest of his career. It matches Jessie Winker's seven-game streak for longest by a Red this season.
Cubs: Left-hander Cole Hamels (3-0) opens a series in Washington, facing Max Scherzer (2-4). Hamels allowed one run in seven innings during his last start against Milwaukee.
Reds: Anthony DeSclafani (2-1) starts a series against the Dodgers, who start left-hander Rich Hill (0-1). The Dodgers are 33-22 at Great American Ball Park, the second-best winning percentage by an opponent behind the Mets.