Santiago Espinal smashes a two-run home run as the Cincinnati Reds narrowly defeat the Chicago Cubs 5-4

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Santiago Espinal runs the bases

Santiago Espinal slammed a two-run homer while pinch-hitting in the seventh inning, propelling the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-4 victory over the struggling Chicago Cubs on Friday.

Espinal, who had a batting average of just .195, came in to bat for Will Benson with no outs and Jonathan India on first base after a walk. He connected with Drew Smyly’s first pitch, sending it over Wrigley Field’s left-center bleachers for his third home run of the season, giving Cincinnati a 4-3 lead.

“I stay prepared and ready,” Espinal said. “The pitch was right down the middle. I wanted to be aggressive, aimed for something up in the zone, and got it.”

Tyler Stephenson contributed with two hits and an RBI for the Reds, who snapped a two-game losing streak.

Nick Martini also drove in a run, and TJ Friedl added an insurance run with a single in the ninth inning. It proved crucial.

In the bottom of the ninth, Reds closer Alexis Diaz entered with a 5-3 lead. Pete Crow-Armstrong led off with a single, followed by a walk to pinch-hitter Michael Busch. Suzuki’s double to the left field corner scored Crow-Armstrong, but a fantastic relay from shortstop Elly De La Cruz, after a quick fielding by left fielder Jacob Hurtubise, threw out Nick Madrigal at home plate to prevent the tying run.

Seiya Suzuki catches the ball

“That play decided the game,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Hitting the cutoff man and getting the ball to Elly, who has a great arm, was crucial.”

Cody Bellinger’s flyout to right field ended the game, securing Diaz’s 11th save. The Reds (25-32) claimed their fifth win in seven games.

Ian Happ contributed with a two-run homer and a bases-loaded walk for three RBIs, but the Cubs suffered their third consecutive loss and eighth in nine games, dropping two games below .500 (28-30).

Fernando Cruz, the first of four Reds relievers, earned the win with 1 1/3 scoreless innings, while Smyly took the loss for the Cubs, walking three batters in 1 1/3 innings of relief.

“There were key moments in the game,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said. “When you add them all up, they did a bit more than us today.”

Counsell was ejected in the bottom of the ninth inning after arguing a call when Nick Madrigal was hit by a pitch or fouled the ball.


By Ritik

Ritik Katiyar is pursuing a post-graduate degree in Pharmaceutics. Currently, he lives in Srinagar, Uttarakhand, India. You can find him writing about all sorts of listicle topics. A pharmaceutical postgrad by day, and a content writer by night. You can write to him at [email protected]

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