Marte delivers clutch hit as the Reds rally in 9th to beat the Cubs, earning a doubleheader split

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CINCINNATI (AP) — Noelvi Marte's two-out single in the ninth drove in the winning run as the Cincinnati Reds rallied for a 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs and a split of the Friday doubleheader between the playoff contenders.

Nick Martini homered off Cubs closer Adbert Alzolay (2-5) with one out in the ninth to tie the game. Christian Encarnacion-Strand followed with a single. Pinch-runner Stuart Fairchild stole second, went to third on an errant throw by catcher Yan Gomes and then scored easily on Marte's sharp hit up the middle.

“It was massive, especially against a team like that, to be able to come back in the ninth (gives) us a boost,” said the 33-year-old Martini, who was promoted from Triple-A Louisville on Aug. 22. “A big swing by Marte. It was a lot of fun, that last inning.”

Chicago won the first game 6-2 with Cody Bellinger driving in three runs and rookie right-hander Jordan Wicks turning in another quality start.

The Cubs began the late game in second place in the NL Central behind Milwaukee and holding onto the second NL wild card. The Reds were in third place in the division and battling the Giants, Diamondbacks and Marlins for the third and final wild-card slot.

Bellinger, as he did in the first game, opened the scoring for the Cubs with a homer in the night cap, a two-out shot in the third inning.

The Reds tied it in the bottom half with an RBI double by TJ Friedl, but Ian Happ's two-out base hit in the fifth gave the Cubs the lead until Cincinnati's ninth-inning heroics.

“Our team just chose to keep playing,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It’s happened time and time again. That’s what it takes to be a good team.”

Both teams had to get creative with their pitching to manage the doubleheader, which was made necessary by a rainout at Cincinnati in April.

The Cubs started right-hander José Cuas, who was reinstated from the bereavement list before the second game, but manager David Ross went to lefty Drew Smyly after Cuas had retired two of the first three Reds hitters in the first inning.

The Reds, whose starting pitchers have been struggling for weeks, promoted Lyon Richardson from Triple-A Louisville to start the late game.

The 23-year-old right-hander, making his third major league start, walked the bases full in the first inning but wriggled out of it by striking out Dansby Swanson and Seiya Suzuki. He gave up the first two Cubs runs before exiting with one out in the fifth.

Reds closer Alexis Diaz (7-4) picked up the win by pitching a scoreless ninth.

“We played really good baseball all day today. A lot of innings — 18 innings, and we came up short there in the last inning of that thing,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “We weren’t able to capitalize on some things early on.”

In the first game, Bellinger had a solo homer in the fourth and drove in two more with a base hit in the sixth inning. Seiya Suzuki’s solo homer in the eighth and Ian Happ’s two-run shot in the ninth gave Chicago breathing room.

Wicks (2-0) allowed five hits through five innings with three strikeouts and three walks. That came after a solid major league debut last Saturday when he allowed a run and two hits through five while striking out nine in a 10-6 win over the Pirates.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Reds: RHP Hunter Greene was placed on the COVID-19 injured list for at least seven days. Starting pitcher Ben Lively and reliever Fernando Cruz also were put on the list. ... OF Jake Fraley was activated after opting to delay surgery on a broken toe until after the season. He had three hits in the late game. ... LHP Nick Lodolo (tibia) will miss the rest of the season, but won't require surgery. The team had hoped he could return this season. ... RHP Justin Dunn will have shoulder surgery.

CUBS MOVES

Chicago brought up RHP Shane Greene and OF Alexander Canario from Triple-A Iowa.

UP NEXT

Cubs right-hander Javier Assad (3-2) faces Reds lefty Andrew Abbott (8-4) as the four-game series continues Saturday night.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB