CINCINNATI — If and when the Cubs elbow themselves into contention in upcoming seasons, they might want to concentrate on at least breaking even with the National League Central-rival Reds.
The Reds have beaten the Cubs 11 of 16 games this season after Thursday’s 7-2 triumph at Great American Ball Park. Last season the Reds won 14 of 19, including 9 of 10 at Wrigley Field.
It’s not like the sub-.500 Reds (65-69) have won the division routinely in recent years, but they have made it a point to take care of business against the last-place Cubs. They are 4-0-1 in series play against them this season.
“We’ve talked about that a lot,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “You want not only just to hold your own, but (win more).”
No speed limit: Speedy Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton makes a lot of opposing teams and managers nervous. He forces infielders to rush throws to first when he hits grounders, he disrupts the rhythm of pitchers when he steals bases and he covers an awful lot of ground in center field.
“Obviously he is very good at using his speed,” Renteria said. “It’s not just having speed, it’s how you apply it. He can bunt. He bunts with two strikes. He slaps the ball around. He is always getting down the line. He knows that any little miscue potentially can put him on base.”
The Reds stole six bases Thursday as starting pitcher Jake Arrieta was very deliberate with his leg kick. Hamilton walked twice, stole his 51st base of the season and drove in a pair of runs.
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