The Cubs got their big series in Cincinnati off to a good start by winning the first game of a day/night doubleheader Friday afternoon. Ian Happ and Cody Bellinger were the main contributors as the road team won rather comfortably.
Starting pitchers Jordan Wicks and Graham Ashcraft kept things scoreless through three innings before Bellinger put the Cubs ahead with a solo home run in the top of the 4th. The Reds tied things up on an RBI single by Noelvi Marte in the bottom of the frame.
Touch 'em all, Belli! 💪 pic.twitter.com/ebswIBqigV
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 1, 2023
Chicago took the lead for good in the 6th inning when Nico Hoerner singled and Happ doubled to knock Ashcraft from the game. Bellinger then came through again, ripping a two-run single past second base against Lucas Sims to make it a 3-1 game.
The North Siders used a pair of home runs to add insurance late as Seiya Suzuki hit a solo blast in the 8th and Happ cracked a two-run dinger in the 9th. Keegan Thompson pitched the final two innings, giving up a run but earning a save in the 6-2 victory. (Box score)
The Reds had runners on first and third with one out in the 7th inning trailing 3-1. Julian Merryweather was able to coax Elly De La Cruz to hit a ground ball double play to Dansby Swanson that ended the threat.
Why the Cubs Won
They got more good pitching and were able to add late runs to take away some of the tension from the final two innings.
Stats That Matter
- Wicks did not have the best control Friday but he battled through and had a good performance: 5 IP, 1 R, 5 H, 3 K, and 3 BB.
- Bellinger is up to 80 RBI this season and continues to come up huge in clutch moments.
- Happ now has 17 career home runs at Great American Ball Park.
This was another huge win for the Cubs and not having to use their closer puts them in a good position for the nightcap of the doubleheader. It’s amazing the difference Bellinger has made in the lineup in 2023.