Pitcher homers, Reds rally past Cubs for sweep

CINCINNATI (AP) — Once pitcher Mike Lorenzen homered, the Cincinnati Reds got rolling again.

Lorenzen connected for a pinch-hit shot to begin Cincinnati’s comeback, Jesse Winker added a pinch-hit, three-run homer in a big seventh, and the Reds beat the Chicago Cubs 8-6 Sunday for their seventh straight win.

Lorenzen’s homer was the third of his career and second in two games by a Reds pitcher. Anthony DeSclafani hit a grand slam on Saturday, the first by a Reds pitcher since 1959.

“In a game like today we feel like we’re not meant to lose,” Lorenzen said.

The last-place Reds completed a four-game sweep of the Cubs for the first time since 1983 at Riverfront Stadium. Their winning streak is their longest since a 10-game surge in July 2012.

“We know what we can do,” Winker said. “It is cool coming to the field and expecting to win. We’re in June right now. We are taking care of June. To win a game, it takes a group effort. There’s plenty of season left. We’re going to keep grinding good at bats. It’s been a lot of fun.”

After Chicago scored five times in the fifth, Lorenzen homered in the bottom half.

The Reds trailed 6-1 going into the seventh. Winker went opposite field on Pedro Strop’s first pitch after relieving Mike Montgomery to cut Chicago’s lead to 6-5.

Joey Votto delivered the go-ahead double as the next four batters reached against Strop (3-1), who retired just two of the nine batters he faced in his first appearance since Tuesday.

“Strop had plenty of rest — maybe too much,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I felt like he was the right guy. It just didn’t work. They got two pinch-hit homers, one by a pitcher. They had some great at-bats.”

Said Strop: “It’s always good to be fresh.”

“I’m not blaming that. I didn’t feel like I had command of my fastball. I think that was the key. I was getting behind hitters, and I was a little bit too fine when I got ahead,” he said.

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