Chicago Cubs outwitted the Cincinnati Reds 4-3 on Monday to register their seventh win on the trot with Frank Schwindel hitting the tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning, continuing his hitting streak.
Schwindel hit the single through the right side to put the Cubs in the lead but it was Alfonso Rivas who started the rally with a pinch-hit single off Michael Lorenzen and advanced to second on a wild pitch.
Schwindel is hitting with an average of .441 (15 for 34) during his current eight-game hitting streak. This includes six home runs and 14 RBIs.
"The skillset is the prerequisite for being good, and he has it," Cubs bench coach Andy Green was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
This is the seventh loss in nine games for the Reds. They dropped to one game back of idle San Diego for the second National League wild card.
Codi Heuer, Scott Effross, and Adam Morgan combined for three scoreless innings in relief of Justin Steele. Chicago's bullpen has allowed two earned runs in its last 35 innings.
Tyler Stephenson reached on an infield hit with one out in the seventh, but Heuer got Nick Castellanos to ground into a double play.
Ian Happ hit a three-run home run in the first inning for the Cubs. Happ has hit eight home runs and 20 RBIs in his last 23 games.
Steele sailed into the sixth, but the rookie left-hander departed after he hit Asdrubal Cabrera with a pitch with the bases loaded and none out. Heuer then threw a wild pitch, allowing Castellanos to score, and Max Schrock tied it at 3 with a pinch-hit double down the left-field line.
Green praised Happ for preventing Schrock's double from rolling to the wall, causing Cabrera to stop at third.
"He saved the game," Green said.
Heuer then retired pinch-hitter Mike Moustakas on a popup, stranding runners on second and third.
After allowing the homer to Happ, Reds starter Sonny Gray retired 15 of his final 16 batters.
"It felt like he struck out every hitter. All of his pitches had life and movement," Reds manager David Bell was quoted by AP as saying.
Lorenzen, however, said his lack of an effective changeup played a role in Rivas' single completing a 10-pitch at-bat and Schwindel's game-winning hit.
"That whole inning changes if I have my best pitch. I got singled to death, but that's the difference. When you pitch to contact, that can happen," said Lorenzen.
(With AP inputs)