Jackson Stephens had a hit and was a hit in his first Major League game.
Stephens ripped a bases loaded single up the middle with two outs to drive in the tying and go-ahead runs in a 5-3 over reigning World Champion Chicago Cubs.
The 23-year old had a blip in the third inning when he surrendered home runs to Jon Jay and Willson Contreras. An untimely walk to Anthony Rizzo in front of Contreras gave the Cubs an early 3-0 lead.
The Reds broke through against Cubs’s starter Eddie Butler in the fourth. Scooter Gennett, playing to give Zack Cozart a chance to ease back into the lineup, walked. Joey Votto singled to move Gennett to third. Adam Duvall ripped a double to the left centerfield gap. Gennett scored. Votto stopped at third. Butler struck out Eugenio Suarez. Scott Schebler was passed intentionally. Butlet got Jose Peraza on an infield fly. Tucker Barnhart worked a walk that forced Votto home. Stephens in his second big league at bat singled past a diving Addison Russell to score two runs.
Stephens is the first Reds' pitcher to drive in two runs in his first Major League game since Paul Moskau on June 21, 1977 at Philadelphia.
The Reds trailed 3-2 at the time but had the bases loaded with two outs. It was a key point in the game and Price had the option to pinch hit but the need to see the young pitcher was more important.
“The decision was really, we’re trying to see players also," Price said. "We want to see what he had. He really needed to go back out. The premium was for him to go back out there. That outweighed the pinch hitting with two outs. The probabilities are in favor of the defense, no matte who you have on your bench.”
“Bryan told me if the pitch is there go after it," Stephens said. "I got enough of it to get past Addie out there. The hard part was going back out to put up another zero.”
Stephens left with the lead after five innings, allowing three runs on six hits and a walk. He struck out eight.
“It was unbelievable, a childhood dream to go out and compete and have fun. It was fun," Stephens said.
“Of course there were some butterflies but it wasn’t crazy. I was just focused on pounding the zone. I took a couple deep breaths and I was fine.”
Drew Storen pitched out of a mini jam in the sixth. Contreras hit a lead off double. With one out, Storen hit Russell with a pitch. It setup a slick, 5-4-3 double play by Javier Baez to end the inning.
The Reds added a run off Koji Uehara. A walk to Billy Hamilton, a single by Gennett and an intentional walk to Votto brought Duvall to the plate with no outs. Duvall hit into a 6-4-3 double play as Hamilton scored.
Michael Lorenzen and Raisell Iglesias protected the lead to the ninth. Iglesias navigated the bottom of the Cubs’ batting order to earn his 15th save in 16 tries.
The Cubs dropped a game under .500 at the half-way mark.