Javier Baez hit his first grand slam of the season . Jose Quintana got his first win since May 5. And a long, hot game ended with a dust-up involving Yasiel Puig and an ejection for the Cincinnati Reds manager.
Amid all the drama, the Chicago Cubs managed to pull out one they really needed.
The Cubs pulled away late to a 6-0 win on Saturday, leaving the NL Central leaders with a 14-14 mark in June. They must win the final game of the series to avoid their first losing month since May of 2017. Given the injuries to the rotation and the offense’s struggles, manager Joe Maddon isn’t too disappointed.
“A lot of moving parts,” Maddon said. “Of course you’d like to be in better position, but I can’t really lament what’s gone on at this point. Overall, we’ve hung in there pretty well.”
It ended with an outburst by Puig.
Pedro Strop hit Puig on the thigh with a 3-0 fastball in the eighth inning. Puig slammed his helmet and headed toward the mound, gesturing and screaming as the benches and bullpens emptied. Joey Votto and other Reds players held Puig back to prevent it from escalating.
Strop said he was surprised that Puig reacted so strongly.
“I don’t know what to say about it,” Strop said. “It’s not a secret he’s stupid. I have nothing against him, but he’s stupid.”
Puig said he wasn’t sure whether Strop tried to hit him intentionally. Puig had taunted Cubs baserunner Albert Almora Jr. from right field during the series opener, trying to get him to go for an extra base after a single to right.
“At the end of the day, nothing happened,” Puig said. “Nobody got hurt. What’s important tomorrow is to go out and win the game and win the series. That’s more important than fighting with the other team.”
Reds manager David Bell was ejected in the ninth after reliever Dillon Maples hit Jose Peraza on the arm with a breaking pitch, which plate umpire Mark Wegner deemed accidental. It was Bell’s sixth ejection of the season.
“The bottom line is I don’t like it when our players get hit,” Bell said.
Baez, voted the NL’s starting shortstop for the All-Star Game in Cleveland, connected in the eighth off Jared Hughes to help Quintana (5-7) get his long-awaited win.
The left-hander gave the Cubs a much-needed quality start a day after their rotation took another hit. Cole Hamels left the Reds’ 6-3 opening win after only one inning because of pain in his left side. He went on the injured list Saturday. Starter Kyle Hendricks also is sidelined by a sore shoulder.
Quintana allowed six singles in six innings, snapping his nine-start drought that was longest in the NL.
“We needed it, especially me,” Quintana said.
Jason Heyward connected for a solo shot off Luis Castillo (7-3), the Reds’ top candidate for the All-Star Game. Castillo allowed three hits and three walks in seven innings. The Cubs hit into a pair of double plays — including with the bases loaded in the fifth — that scuttled rallies.
Chicago called up Maples and reliever Rowan Wick. Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was designated for assignment. Gonzalez signed a minor league deal on June 1 and was called up two days later. He batted .175 in 15 games.
HEYWARD HEATING UP
In his last eight games, Heyward is 13 for 28 with three doubles, a triple, three homers and eight RBIs.
Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett was activated for the series after missing all season with a groin injury. In two games, he’s 1 for 8 with an infield single.
Cubs: Hendricks threw in the bullpen without problem Saturday. He’s been sidelined since June 15. Maddon said there’s a chance he could be activated next week.
Reds: Left-hander Alex Wood will play catch on Sunday. He hurt his back in spring training and has had several setbacks, including earlier in the week when he threw at Triple-A.
Cubs: Left-hander Jon Lester (7-5) faces the Reds for the first time this season. He’s 7-1 in 16 career starts against Cincinnati, including 2-0 last season.
Reds: Anthony DeSclafani (4-4) faces the Cubs for the second time this season. He lasted only 3 2/3 innings of a 6-5 win at Wrigley Field on May 24, giving up four runs and three walks.
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