Alzolay’s strong start and Bote’s home run help streaking Cubs beat Reds, 1-0

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CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs edged the Cincinnati Reds, 1-0, on Friday before a crowd of 18,478, the largest at Wrigley Field since 2019.

The Cubs won their fifth straight and 10th in their last 12, tying the St. Louis Cardinals atop the National League Central pending the Cardinals’ result Friday night in Arizona.

Adbert Alzolay threw 5 2/3 shutout innings in unseasonably cold and windy conditions for his third win, allowing five hits while striking out six with three walks. David Bote homered for the only run, and the Cubs bullpen turned in 3 1/3 scoreless innings, increasing their franchise-record streak to 38 innings without allowing an earned run.

The Cubs managed only three hits, and a few balls that were crushed turned into flyouts, including a Patrick Wisdom blast off reliever Sean Doolittle in the bottom of the eighth inning.

“That was one of the most gale-force winds that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Bote said. “You’ve got to find a way to play through it. Both teams are out there, and you just go embrace it and play.”

The high winds that sent waves crashing onto the lakefront path also played havoc on outfielders, flattening would-be home runs and affecting the game in a more direct fashion in the top of the third inning. Alzolay caught a break when Tucker Barnhart’s shot into the right-field corner with a man on blew back toward the stands, took an unusually high bounce off the dirt track near the foul line and went over the high wall and into the seats.

Instead of a run-scoring double, Barnhart had to settled for a ground-rule double, with the runner, Tyler Stephenson, sent back to third. Alzolay promptly induced Kyle Farmer to fly to right to get out of the inning unscathed.

“That was weird,” Bote said. “This game is a weird game.”

Alzolay said it was “part of the game,” and “I don’t worry about those things.”

Reds starter Vladimir Gutierrez held the Cubs scoreless on one infield hit by Javier Báez through four innings before Bote sliced a line drive into the wind and over the basket in left field leading off the fifth. The ball barely cleared the top of the basket and deflected off an auxiliary video board for the home run.

“That’s how you have to hit it,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “Right on the line, high velocity. Even his in the moment felt like it took a left turn with the wind blowing, and it just got in the basket.”

Bote couldn’t tell if it was called a homer and kept running until he reached second.

“I was sprinting, sprinting,” he said. “I saw the ball in play, and I didn’t know what it hit, and then the third-base umpire was waving his hand.”

Alzolay, coming off his career-high, seven-inning outing in St. Louis on Saturday, a night marred only by Yadier Molina’s game-winning home run, took a 1-0 lead into the sixth when he walked Jonathan India to put two on with two outs.

Ross called on Andrew Chafin, who struck out Eugenio Suárez on a 94-mph fastball and got through the seventh. Tommy Nance pitched a perfect eighth, and Craig Kimbrel closed it out on his 33rd birthday with a perfect ninth, notching his 12th save in 14 opportunities.

Ross confirmed Kimbrel had a conversation during the sixth inning with umpire Joe West about his cap, apparently clearing its usage after West ordered Cardinals pitcher Giovany Gallegos to get a new cap Wednesday during an outing against the White Sox. The decision led to manager Mike Shildt getting ejected after objecting to the order.

“He and Joe worked that out,” Ross said of Kimbrel. “I’ll keep it in house.” Kimbrel was unavailable for comment.

Alzolay threw a career-high 103 pitches and has a 3.43 ERA with 47 strikeouts over his last eight starts.

“It’s a huge step forward for me,” Alzolay said. “That’s what it’s all about — keep competing.”

The Cubs played without first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who hasn’t been on the field since Tuesday in Pittsburgh after suffering lower-back pain. Ross said he didn’t want to rush Rizzo back and risk aggravating the issue.

So Rizzo was on the bench again during a crazy afternoon where nothing in the air could be taken for granted.

“Just one of those days,” Ross said. “You think you’re going to have to play small ball, hit and run, steal some bags, bunt, move guys over, and then we end up winning by a homer today 1-0.

“That’s this crazy game and Wrigley Field.”

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