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Santiago Espinal hits 2-run homer, Reds hold on to beat Cubs 5-4

Santiago Espinal hits 2-run homer, Reds hold on to beat Cubs 5-4 originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) -- Santiago Espinal hit a two-run homer while pinch hitting in the seventh inning and the Cincinnati Reds held on to beat the sliding Chicago Cubs 5-4 on Friday.

Espinal, who entered hitting just .195, batted for Will Benson with zero outs and Jonathan India on first after a walk. He sent Drew Smyly’s first pitch into Wrigley Field’s left-center bleachers for his third homer, giving Cincinnati its first lead at 4-3.

Tyler Stephenson had two hits and drove in a run for the Reds, who ended a two game slide.

Nick Martini added an RBI and TJ Friedl singled in an insurance run in the ninth. The Reds needed it.

Cincinnati closer Alexis Diaz entered the bottom of the ninth with a 5-3 lead. Pete Crow-Armstrong singled to lead off, then Diaz walked pinch-hitter Michael Busch.

Crow-Armstrong scored on Seiya Suzuki’s double with one out. But Nick Madrigal, who had reached on a force, was thrown out at the plate. Cody Bellinger flied out to right to end it and Diaz got his 11th save.

Ian Happ hit a two run-homer and walked with the bases loaded for three RBIs, but the Cubs lost their third straight and eighth in nine to fall two games below .500 (28-30).

Fernando Cruz (2-5), the first of four Reds relievers, tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the win.

Smyly (2-3) took the loss in relief of starter Javier Assad. The left-hander walked three in 1 1/3 innings.

Cubs manager Craig Counsell was ejected in the bottom of the ninth.

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The Reds send RHP Hunter Green (3-2, 3.06) to the mound against LHP Justin Steele (0-2, 4.45) on Saturday. Green has made three straight quality starts, allowing five runs in 21 1/3 innings. Steele tossed seven scoreless innings in a no-decision at Milwaukee on Monday.

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