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Cubs lose pace in race

WRIGLEY FIELD- With the Cardinals coming in town after beating the Nationals 2 out of 3 games and now 3 games ahead of the Cubs in the division, the Cubs needed a win over the Reds to keep pace.

They were held to four hits in a costly 3-2 extra inning loss. (#TheNatural) Kris Bryant, (#Nicky2X) Nick Castellanos, (#ILLWILL) Willson Contreras and (#BamBam) Kyle Schwarber went a combined 2-14.

Give Cincinnati credit as they win the season series 11 games to 8 and get the last laugh.

Reds starter Tyler Mahle entered the contest with a 2-11 record with a +5 ERA. He threw 6 strong innings of 1 hit baseball.

Mahle is better than his 5.11 ERA. He made some really good pitches tonight. I like their entire staff and I think they have a nice team on the field," said Cubs skipper Joe Maddon.

(#TheAce) Jon Lester was not happy when Maddon pulled him in the top of 6 after Joey Votto & Eugenio Suarez reached on back 2 back singles.

"I respect his decisions. Obviously as a competitor you don't like decisions," Lester said. "It is what it is. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean you fight it. He's my boss and if he decides that I'm done then I'm done."

Reliever David Phelps came in & struck out Aristides Aquino & got Josh VanMeter to ground into a double play to end the inning and keep the game tied at 1.

Lester finished with 77 pitches in 5 innings with 6 hits & 1 earned run while striking out 5.

(#Stropie) Pedro Strop gave up back 2 back singles to Jose Iglesias and Curt Casali to start the top of 7. After a Michael Lorenzen fly out, Maddon summoned Kyle Ryan out of the pen to relieve Strop. Pinch hitter Jose Peraza drew a walk to load the bases and Iglesias scored on an Alex Bandoino sac fly to give Cincy the 2-1 lead.

You could hear a pin drop as Cubs fans were itching for a scratch and #ILLWILL Willson Contreras gave it to them with his 24th bomb and 63rd RBI of the year to tie the game at 2.

Willson Contreras points to the right field bleachers after his 24th HR (Photo by Alan Pan/The Bigs Visuals)

Tyler Chatwood had a shutdown top of 8 as he mowed down Suarez, Aristides Aquino & Josh VanMeter in order.

The Reds had a shot in the top of 9 with runners in scoring position but Rowan Wick got Brian O'Grady swinging to end the threat.

Wick has been damn good this holding opponents to a .175 average (20-114) this season with 34 strikeouts. He's allowed just one run in his last eight games (9.2 IP).

With 2 outs in the top of 10, Jose Iglesias' RBI double off of reliever James Norwood scored Aquino to put Cincy back on top 3-2 and that as all she wrote.

The Cubs had a chance in the bottom half of the frame with 1 out and Victor Caratini at 2nd but Reds closer Raisel Iglesias notched his 33rd save after (#JHey) Jason Heyward struck out swinging and Nico Hoerner lined out to right field.

"At the end of the day you've gotta tip your cap to their rotation. I feel like they've pitched us very well this year," said Lester.

With 10 games left in the Cubs injury plagued season, the opportunity to make the postseason still presents itself.

They end their regular season home schedule with a 4 game set against the Cardinals before heading to PNC Park to face the Pittsburgh Pirates for 3 games then to St. Louis for 3 to finish the season.

Lester & Co. have a championship pedigree and aren't lacking confidence.

"We all know what's in front of us. Tonight could've been a big step for us but we came up short. Nobody in that clubhouse is naive to what's going on. We know how big this weekend is for us."

FINAL- CIN 3 CHI 2 (10)

Player(s) of the game- Eugenio Suarez hit his 48th HR of the year...the most ever by a Venezuelan born player.

Play of the game- Jose Iglesias' RBI double in the top of 10 to give Cincy a 3-2 lead

Quote of the game- "Any and everything is possible. We just have to take it day by day." - Joe Maddon on the Cubs playoff chances

Next game- v STL 9/19

Kyle Hendricks (11-9 3.26 ERA) v Jack Flaherty (10-8 3.05 ERA)

Nick Castellanos picked up his 56th double of the season in the bottom of 4. This is the 20th time 56 or more doubles have been recorded in a season. Catsellanos joins Hall of Famers Hank Greenberg & Joe Medwick as the only right-handed hitters in major league history to reach 55 doubles & 25 homers in a season.

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