Pitcher Mat Latos has an ongoing war with Gapper, the Reds mascot.
Latos often blasts Gapper with a handful of sunflower seeds. Gapper may have been unsuspecting at one point. He is no more. Gapper responded on Monday by playfully pummelling Latos in the dugout.
Latos, when he’s not pitching, has as much fun as anyone in the Reds dugout, but there was little fun to be had for anyone in a Cincinnati uniform once the game began Monday.
A former Red, Cubs starter Travis Wood, made sure of that, leading Chicago to a 2-0 victory in the first game of the series at Great American Ball Park. Home runs by Ryan Sweeney in the second and Luis Valbuena in the third gave Wood all the run support he needed.
Wood (9-11, 3.05 ERA) pitched seven scoreless innings. The Reds had seven hits in the game, the same as the Cubs, and yet couldn’t get a runner past second base. They were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. The Reds had scored at least one run in 86 straight games against the Cubs, a streak that began in 2008.
“(Wood) was an All-Star,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He made the pitches when he needed to. I think we had him in trouble with a man in scoring position six or seven times throughout the game. We would either strike out or pop up. We just couldn’t get that hit tonight.
A Cubs team (61-82) that had lost 13 of 16 games against the Reds handed Cincinnati (82-63) a defeat at the worst time. The Reds had just won six of seven games against the Cardinals and Dodgers, the last two wins coming on walk-off hits Saturday and Sunday. This loss drops Cincinnati two back of the idle Cardinals.
Before the game, Baker stressed that he wasn’t worried about a letdown after a weekend sweep of the Dodgers.
“That was an exciting week,” Baker said. “I guess you make sure to tell the guys to play at our level and not the opponents’ level, not to say we’re that much higher above them. But we are higher in the standings. You’ve got to stay at it.”
They didn’t. Most of that was because of Wood’s performance. Bronson Arroyo (13-11, 3.58) pitched well enough for the Reds, allowing two runs on seven hits in seven innings. The two home runs ruined his night.
“One bad pitch, and we would have lost 1-0 anyway,” Arroyo said. “The second one wasn’t as bad as the first, but I hung the first, a change-up in the middle of the plate. Sweeney took me deep. That’s the way it went today.
“We had a great run against the Cardinals and Dodgers. It would have been nice to continue that tonight.”
Cubs at Reds, 7:10 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410