Cubs 7, Reds 6, 13 innings
CHICAGO (AP) _ Ouch, said Cincinnati Reds manager Ray Knight: ``This one really hurts.″
A hundred yards away, Chicago Cubs first baseman Mark Grace offered a different perspective amidst loud music and players scurrying to head home for the All-Star break.
``It’s a good way to go into the break. We placed ourselves in much better position than two days ago,″ said Grace, who scored the winning run in the 13th inning Sunday on Terry Shumpert’s single as the Cubs beat the Reds 7-6.
The Reds could’ve been on the way to their respective homes hours earlier. But with closer Jeff Brantley out with back spasms, they turned to career saves leader Lee Smith to protect a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth.
Smith gave up four hits, including two-out RBI singles to Ryne Sandberg and Sammy Sosa on 3-2 pitches that tied it 6-6.
``You go into the ninth with two outs. That’s a game that you should win,″ said Knight.
``That game should be over in the ninth. That inning is the whole ballgame. ...The guy who is supposed to do it for you, doesn’t. It shows you how important Brantley is to us. When he goes out there with the lead, I know we’ll win. That’s not a knock on anyone else on our staff, but he’s the best.″
The Cubs finally won the four-hour, 16-minute game that featured seven pitchers on each side when Shumpert lined a ball off the ivy in left. Grace had walked off Johnny Ruffin (1-3) and moved to second on a wild pitch. Luis Gonzalez was walked intentionally before Shumpert delivered.
The Cubs go to the All-Star break five games under .500 and five games back in the NL Central.
``This gives you something positive to come back from the break with. And you look at the scoreboard and see that both Houston and St. Louis lost. There’s a big difference between being five or being six out,″ said Shumpert, who won a 14-inning game last month with a three-run homer.
Cincinnati, which dropped the final two games to the Cubs after winning the first two, enters the break at 39-43, 4 1/2 games out of first in the Central.
``I want this team to reflect on what I want done. We need some changes,″ said Knight, who will flip-flop bench coach Joel Youngblood and third base coach Mark Bombard. ``We need some kind of jolt.″
The Cubs also need a lift and general manager Ed Lynch said Saturday the team was in ``an acquisition mode″ with money to spend. He said he’s searching for trades to bolster run production.
One of the Cubs’ recent pitching additions, Tanyon Sturtze (1-0) was impressive Sunday. He allowed just three hits in four scoreless innings for his first major-league victory.
``I just tried to not think about who was at-bat. I don’t know these guys. Down at Iowa, I know those guys,″ said Sturtze, called up from the minors five days ago.
Chicago had two other chances to win before Shumpert’s hit. Dave Magadan, trying to score from second on Sandberg’s 12th-inning single, was thrown out by Reds right fielder Reggie Sanders.
The Reds had taken a 6-4 lead with two runs in the top of the ninth as pinch-hitter Thomas Howard led off with a homer and Jeff Branson doubled in Bret Boone.
Chicago’s first rally, in the bottom of the eighth, tied the game at 4 when Grace and Gonzalez doubled off John Smiley, a starter brought in from the bullpen to begin the inning.
Notes: Sunday’s game drew 36,352, bringing the four-game series total to 153,832, an average of 38,458. ... Smiley and Dave Burba, who also appeared in relief Sunday because of the Reds’ depleted bullpen, had both made 18 starts before their relief appearances Sunday. ...The Cubs have now won 14 games in their final at-bat.. ..All three of Howard’s homers this season have been as a pinch-hitter.. ...A year ago the Cubs were five games above .500 at the All-Star break (37-32) but were 6 1/2 games out.