CINCINNATI — Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter at Great American Ball Park in April with thousands of Cubs fans cheering him on. The Reds didn’t want to let Jon Lester reach another pitching milestone in the same place.
The Reds scored five times in only five innings off the left-hander, denying him a 20-win season, as Cincinnati pulled away to a 7-4 victory on Saturday.
Tim Adleman (4-4) gave up three runs in five innings as part of a rare Reds victory over Chicago. The Cubs are 14-4 against Cincinnati this season. Ben Zobrist hit his third homer in two games.
The overwhelming majority of the 30,970 fans were wearing Cubs blue and cheering for Lester (19-5) to get that milestone victory.
“You know everybody in that clubhouse wanted to get him his 20th win,” Adleman said. “This didn’t feel at all like home. The place was flooded with Cubs fans. It was sweet to get the win today.”
Asked before the game if he’ll open the playoffs with the same lineup — including Lester on the mound — Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, “There’s a shot.” The Cubs will host the NL wild-card playoff winner on Friday at Wrigley Field.
The Reds got to Lester with Eugenio Suarez’s two-run homer and a pair of RBIs by Joey Votto. The left-hander hadn’t allowed five runs in a start since July 9.
“He wasn’t as sharp as he’s been in the past against us,” manager Bryan Price said. “It was a little bit more of a battle by us. We gave him some good at bats. We didn’t make it easy on him.”
Nobody’s been better lately than Lester. Since the All-Star break, he’d won a career-high 10 straight decisions. In September, he allowed a total of two runs while winning all five starts. Lester had allowed one run or none in a club-record eight straight starts heading into Saturday.
The Reds strung together several well-placed hits while sending him to his first loss since July 3. Lester was hoping to become the first Cubs left-hander to win 20 games since Dick Ellsworth in 1963.
Arrieta won 22 games last season to help the Cubs reach the playoffs.
The Cubs have hit 40 homers against the Reds this season, the most ever by an opposing team against Cincinnati. … Dexter Fowler singled for his 1,000th career hit. … Suarez snapped an 0-for-12 slump with his first homer since Aug. 30. … Votto had three hits and drove in three runs overall. He’s batting .412 since the All-Star break. He’s trying to become the first player in the majors to hit .400 after the All-Star break since Ichiro Suzuki hit .429 in 2004. … Aroldis Chapman fanned Votto on three pitches in the eighth clocked at 101, 102 and 101 mph.
Cubs: OF Jorge Soler took batting practice on Saturday and appeared to have no problems with his sore right side that has sidelined him for a week. Maddon said he would likely play on Sunday if there was no lingering soreness.
Reds: 2B Brandon Phillips had an MRI on his sore left hand that found a deep bruise. He missed a fourth straight game.
Cubs: Kyle Hendricks (16-8) is expected to go no more than five innings as the Cubs keep him fresh for the postseason. Hendricks has allowed three or fewer runs in each of his last 22 starts since May 22, the longest such streak in the majors this season. His 1.99 ERA is the lowest in the majors.
Reds: Robert Stephenson (2-3) makes his sixth start since he was promoted in September. He gave up four runs in 3 2/3 innings of a 9-2 loss at Wrigley Field on Sept. 21.
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