CHICAGO — Kris Bryant hardly had time to enjoy his latest home run.
The rookie third baseman hit a tying drive in the eighth inning, then made a two-out error in the ninth that set up Joey Votto’s three-run homer and lifted the Cincinnati Reds over the Chicago Cubs 7-4 Wednesday.
“It’s tough,” Bryant said. “Obviously, you’re on Cloud Nine when you hit the game-tying home run, then you blow it the next inning.”
“But sometimes baseball works that way. It’s a crazy game. I mean, it gives you everything and then takes everything away,” he said.
Bryant’s two-run shot made it 4-all. The rookie has 22 home runs and 84 RBIs this season.
The top of the ninth started innocently enough with Cubs closer Hector Rondon (5-3) retiring the first two batters. Jason Bourgeois, who led off the game with a homer, then hit a high chopper to the right of the mound that he beat out for a base hit.
Jay Bruce followed by slicing a sharp grounder through Bryant’s legs for the error.
“He hit it hard, but there’s no excuses for that,” Bryant said. “I’ve got to keep the ball in front of me.”
Rondon fell behind Votto 2-0 before leaving a 97 mph fastball out over the plate. Votto drove it to left-center and the wind guided it several rows back into the bleachers.
“He doesn’t try to do too much in those situations,” Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said, “but he smoked that ball. It was great.”
That’s not exactly how the Cubs looked at it.
Chicago manager Joe Maddon was asked if he considered walking Votto to load the bases with righty Brandon Phillips on deck.
Not really, he said, mainly because Rondon — who had a 0.45 ERA since May 25 and hadn’t allowed a homer since May 22 – was pitching so well.
“We probably should have zigged when we zagged,” Maddon said. “The third fastball in a row got him. Votto is good and that’s just execution. You throw the pitch where you want to, obviously, it’s a good pitch. We didn’t throw the ball where we wanted to and it’s a three-run homer.”
J.J. Hoover (7-0) got the win despite giving up Bryant’s homer. Aroldis Chapman closed for his 27th save.
Tommy La Stella and Anthony Rizzo hit solo home runs for the Cubs. Chicago began the day with a 6½-game lead over San Francisco for the second NL wild-card spot.
Reds rookie Raisel Iglesias struck out 10 in seven innings, allowing just three hits. It was his third straight start with double-digit strikeouts.
Bryant, who has hit two walk-off homers this season, said he won’t dwell on his late mistake.
“I think there are a lot of positives from the game, personally and from the team,” he said. “There’s nothing to hang my head about. I wish I had blocked the ball or put a body part on it, but I wasn’t able to do that.”
SCHWARBER AILING: Cubs rookie Kyle Schwarber was slated to start in left field, but was a late scratch with right rib soreness.
“From my understanding, in the batting cage this morning, he felt something in his side,” Maddon said after the game. “We immediately shut it down, got him out of there. He’s undergoing some tests right now. I don’t have anything to report just yet.”
Reds: OF Billy Hamilton (right shoulder) was set to begin throwing for the first time on Wednesday. “We’re hoping for a good report once he finishes playing catch,” Price said. “Hopefully, then he can swing a bat.”
Cubs: OF Jorge Soler (left oblique strain) said he is feeling fine and hopes to begin swinging a bat later this week.
Reds: Following a day-off Thursday, they begin a three-game home series against Milwaukee on Friday. RHP Keyvius Sampson (2-2, 6.43 ERA) goes for the Reds in the opener vs. RHP Matt Garza (6-14, 5.56).
Cubs: Off on Thursday. The homestand resumes on Friday with the first of three against Arizona. LHP Jon Lester (8-10, 3.59 ERA) pitches the opener.