Yasiel Puig got a chance to redeem his rough night and came through with his biggest moment yet in Cincinnati.
The struggling outfielder hit an RBI single with the bases loaded in the 10th inning Wednesday night, rallying the Reds to a 6-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs. He tossed his bat away in celebration and got soaked with ice water by teammates.
“I finally made contact,” Puig said. “That was amazing.”
Puig’s had a mostly disappointing debut with the Reds, who got him in an offseason trade with the Dodgers. He was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts when he came to bat in the 10th against Brad Brach (3-1). The bases were loaded and the Cubs used five infielders, hoping for a groundball.
Instead, Puig drove the ball to center — it smacked off the base of the wall — and flipped his bat away in celebration. Puig is batting only .212.
“He brings a lot of energy,” manager David Bell said. “He absolutely wanted to be up there in that spot. He saw it as an opportunity. He wasn’t defensive.”
Amir Garrett (3-1) escaped a two-on threat in the 10th inning.
The Cubs’ stingy bullpen let a solid start by Yu Darvish go to waste. Darvish fanned 11 and Addison Russell hit a two-run homer — his first since returning from a 40-game suspension for domestic violence — to help the Cubs to a 5-3 lead.
Eugenio Suarez’s homer off Carl Edwards Jr. tied it in the eighth, only the fourth time the Cubs have blown such a late lead.
The Cubs were encouraged by Darvish’s best performance of the season. He allowed five hits and a pair of runs in 5 1/3 innings at the ballpark where his 2018 season ended.
The right-hander made only eight starts in his first year with the Cubs. He got a 6-1 win at Great American Ball Park on May 20 and missed the rest of the season with triceps and elbow problems, leading to surgery on Sept. 12.
He has struggled with his control this season. Back in Cincinnati, Darvish had his first 10-strikeout game since 2017. He didn’t walk a batter while throwing 102 pitches and using a nasty slider.
“Obviously I’m trying to find my way,” Darvish said. “I’m trying a lot of things.”
The Cubs knew Darvish would need some time to get back in form after having most of 2018 wiped out.
“In each start, you’re seeing something different that you can take away as a positive,” catcher Taylor Davis said. “Everything is starting to pinwheel into putting everything together.”
Russell and Albert Almora Jr. connected off Sonny Gray, who came to the Reds in an offseason trade with the Yankees and has yet to win in nine starts for the team he rooted for as a youth. Kyle Schwarber also homered .
Cubs: 1B Anthony Rizzo hit in the batting cage but was out of the lineup for the third straight game with a stiff back. Manager Joe Maddon said he’d likely be out of the lineup again Thursday, but return for a weekend series in Washington.
Reds: Left-hander Alex Wood could start throwing next week. He hurt his back during spring training and has had several setbacks during rehabilitation, preventing him from pitching.
The last time Darvish fanned 10 batters was Aug. 10, 2017, at Arizona with the Dodgers. It was the 35th 10-strikeout game of his career.
Kris Bryant singled in the 10th, extending his streak to 24 consecutive games reaching safely. It’s the longest active streak in the majors and the longest by a Cub since Ben Zobrist reached in 25 straight games in 2017. Javier Baez singled in the 10th, extending his career-best hitting streak to 13 games.
Darvish singled for his first hit of the season and only the sixth of his career. In the first two games of the series, Cubs starters have four hits. Kyle Hendricks had a career-high three hits in a 3-1 win on Tuesday.
Cubs: Jose Quintana (4-2) is 4-1 with a 2.29 ERA in his last six starts. The left-hander is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two career starts at Great American Ball Park.
Reds: Luis Castillo (4-1) went 2-1 in five starts against the Cubs last season with a 4.74 ERA.
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