By Tom Ramstetter
CINCINNATI — Right-hander Jacob Turner lasted only 3 2/3 innings in his first start as a Cub, and the Cubs' four-game winning streak came to an end in a 7-5 loss to the Reds before 20,497 on Wednesday night at Great American Ball Park.
But the streak didn’t end without a little late-inning drama.
Second baseman Javier Baez’s two-run double in the top of the eighth highlighted a three-run rally off Reds starter Mat Latos (5-3) and reliever Jonathan Broxton that cut a 6-2 deficit to one run.
Pinch hitter Chris Heisey padded the lead with a home run for the Reds in the bottom half of the eighth, but the Cubs put two on in the ninth off Reds closer Aroldis Chapman before Baez sent a towering drive to left-center on a two-strike pitch that Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton caught just in front of the wall for the final out.
“It sounded good,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “It really did. It was a pretty good jolt, and everybody was in the dugout looking for it to go a little further. But it just fell a little short.”
Turner (4-8) allowed seven hits and six runs while striking out one and walking two after being staked to a 2-0 lead in the second. Only three of the runs off Turner were earned because of some shoddy Cubs defense during the Reds’ game-deciding four-run fourth.
“I would have liked to, obviously, get a little bit deeper in the game,” Turner said. “That part is definitely frustrating, but at the same time, I’ve got to build the pitch count up too.”
Turner started 12 games for the Marlins this year but had been used out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Cubs earlier this month.
“I’m disappointed that we lost the game,” Turner said. “That’s the biggest thing. I just didn’t make a few pitches when I needed to. It was exciting to be starting for sure, but I would have liked to perform a little better.”
[MORE CUBS: GIF: Jorge Soler crushes homer in first Cubs at-bat]
Turner was hurt by two inning-extending errors in the fourth. Starlin Castro booted a two-out Billy Hamilton infield-single to allow Skip Schumaker to score from second with the fourth Cincinnati run. Luis Valbuena then made an error that allowed Todd Frazier to reach and send Turner to the showers.
“We had him on a pitch limit based on how we had been using him here,” Renteria said. “He wanted to stay in there, but we got him to as far as we could in that particular inning, and he’s going to have to continue to work. He made some pitches where we had a tough time making some plays that maybe extended an inning or started an inning going.”
Carlos Villanueva allowed consecutive run-scoring hits to Brandon Phillips and Devin Mesoraco to make the score 6-2.
“Not one of our best ballgames, obviously,” Renteria said. “But as you saw until the end, the guys kept battling. We gave ourselves a chance, and we got the go-ahead run to the plate, actually, and Javy had a good at-bat.”
The game began on a high note for the Cubs on the night heralded outfield prospect Jorge Soler made his major league debut. The Cubs got on the board first when Valbuena belted a home run off Latos to lead off the top of the second.
Soler followed that by clubbing a 423-foot home run over the wall in left-center on a 2-1 pitch from Latos in his first major league at-bat for a 2-0 lead.
“Real, real happy about it,” Soler said through interpreter Franklin Font. “First time in the big leagues, first at-bat hitting a homer is real exciting.”
Soler became the first Cub to homer in his first MLB at-bat since Castro on May 7, 2010 — also in Cincinnati. Soler added an RBI single in the eighth to cap a 2-for-4 night.
“Good for him,” Renteria said. “And he also had a base hit to drive in a run to the left side later in the ballgame.
“Javy had a big hit, too, later on in the ballgame to drive in a run or two,” Renteria said. “Those are good things to see. I’ll take my kids any day of the week.”