Late Reds rally dooms Cubs in 4-2 loss


Late Reds rally dooms Cubs in 4-2 loss

Facing his former team, Cubs left-hander Travis Wood pitched one of the sharpest games of his season, striking out eight and allowing a run in seven innings against the Reds.
But James Russell was unable to preserve the Cubs one-run lead, allowing three runs in the eighth inning. Ryan Ludwick hit a two-run double, and Wilson Valdezs RBI single tacked on another run.
Woods eight strikeouts tied his career high. He walked one and gave up five hits. Wood last allowed fewer than two runs in an outing on July 1, when he threw 7 23 scoreless innings against the Astros.
The Reds traded Wood to the Cubs in December for Sean Marshall. Wood batted for himself in the seventh, but Russell replaced him on the mound for the eighth. Russell allowed a leadoff double to Drew Stubbs and a single to Phillips before Ludwicks two-run double put the Reds ahead 3-2.
The Cubs opened the scoring with David DeJesuss two-out, two-run single off Bronson Arroyo in the second inning.
The Reds cut the lead to 2-1 on Todd Fraziers RBI single in the fourth. Wood allowed a one out double to Brandon Phillips and hit Ryan Ludwick before giving up the single.
Arroyo allowed two runs and five hits in eight innings, striking out four and walking one. In the lineup a day after committing an ugly baserunning mistake, Starlin Castro flew out in his first two at-bats before he singled in the sixth inning.
The Cubs will try to split the four-game series in the finale Sunday.

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

As Cubs players and generations of fans celebrated Christmas in October, Jon Lester had to be The Grinch for a moment. Sure, the Cubs would party from Saturday night into Sunday morning, probably get “a little bit” drunk and enjoy the franchise’s first National League pennant in 71 years. But the reality of the Cleveland Indians would set in once the Cubs got rid of this hangover.

“We ain’t done anything yet,” Lester said during the Wrigley Field celebration after the Cubs eliminated the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Nobody likes second place.”

There are enough Boston Red Sox connections in this World Series that Lester already knows what to expect, starting with Indians manager Terry Francona, who became a father figure as he dealt with a cancer scare as a rookie.

There are ex-teammates from those championship teams in 2007 (Coco Crisp) and 2013 (Mike Napoli, Andrew Miller) at Fenway Park. There is the accumulated experience from throwing 119 postseason innings (2.50 ERA) and becoming one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation.

“I don’t want to sound like a smart-ass, but we got a long ways to go,” Lester said. “I know that manager on their side’s going to be prepared. I know their coaching staff’s going to be ready. I know their players are going to be ready, just based on one player alone, and that’s Mike Napoli. I know what he brings to the table. He helped transform our 2013 team.

“Come Tuesday, we got to put the gloves back on. We got to get ready to fight and grind and do what we’ve done well all year. We got four more games to win.”

After limiting the Dodgers to two runs in 13 innings, and being named the NL Championship Series’ co-MVP along with Javier Baez, Lester should be a worthy Game 1 starter opposite Corey Kluber, the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner.

This is why Lester took a leap of faith with Cubs bosses/ex-Red Sox executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and chairman Tom Ricketts’ family and what had been a last-place team in 2014.

Two seasons into the $155 million contract that signaled the Cubs would be serious about contending – and not just in the Baseball America/Baseball Prospectus prospect rankings – the franchise has won 200 games and four playoff rounds and remained in position to dominate for years to come.

“Theo and Jed and the front office and Tom and all these guys had a belief,” Lester said. “I believed in that belief. The talent here speaks for itself. I didn’t do anything – I came here because I wanted to win in Chicago. I’m just happy to be here and be a part of this and get to this point.

“(But) we’re four hard wins away from doing what we set out to do in spring training.”

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As bright as the future looks on the North Side, Lester will be 33 next season and his left arm has already accounted for more than 2,000 innings during his decorated career. John Lackey turned 38 on Sunday. Jake Arrieta only has one more season before becoming a free agent.

The Cubs built their franchise around young hitters, with the idea that they can figure out the pitching later with free agents, change-of-scenery trades and bounce-back guys. Easier said than done. They have a true No. 1 starter now in Lester, who as a free agent watched a recruiting video that imagined what it would be like when the Cubs win the World Series.

“This isn’t it,” Lester said. “It’s been a tough playoffs for us to this point and it’s only going to get tougher. We’re going to enjoy it. We’re going to show up Tuesday in Cleveland ready to play. We’ll see what happens.”

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