By John Erardi
Enquirer staff writer
The bad news first: the Cubs clobbered the Reds 12-4 Friday night before 33,369 fans at Wrigley Field South, er, Great American Ball Park.
If there was any semblance of good news, it was this:
The fourth-inning control problems of Reds starter Luke Hudson -- known in the past as a good-stuff, bad-control guy until his five most recent starts (3-0, 1.29 ERA) - weren't a result of Hudson lapsing into his old-time mechanical woes.
What Hudson lapsed into was trying to make the perfect pitch, instead of staying ahead of the hitters and then putting them away.
The Reds are going to need Hudson to keep developing if they are to have any chance of not fighting to stay out of the basement again next season. One or two guys have to emerge from the wreckage that is presently the Reds starting rotation.
Hudson may be one of those guys.
"I'm not pitching for next year,' I'm pitching to win this game," he said. "Whatever happens past that, just happens."
In that fourth inning, he threw 41 pitches, walking three Cubs and giving up three hits and a sacrifice fly to put the Reds in a three-run hole from which they never climbed.
Maybe this was a learning experience. It appeared to be that.
"I do feel more confident in myself," Hudson said, of stretch of 16 1/3 scoreless innings that got snapped in the fourth inning. "I feel like I know what I have to do, unlike in the (past)."
And, besides, can you blame him for trying to be too fine, given how small the Reds margin of error is these days.
This time it was 14-8 Carlos Zambrano (one earned run in seven innings) who ate up the Reds hitters. It's as though there's a different guy at the controls of the amusement-park carousel every night, but the music's always the same.
The crowd - a deafening majority of which were Cubs fans - roared their approval at Hudson's struggles.
It got even louder when Derrek Lee hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning off Reds reliever Juan Padilla.
Not to mention how loud it got during the singing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in the seventh-inning stretch ("...For it's root, root, root for the CUB-BIES!").
The onion machines got an extra workout Friday night as the Cubs fans did their best to gussy up Great American hot dogs and make them taste like Chicago dogs.
What in the name of Harry Caray was going on here?
It's up to former Reds pitcher turned broadcaster Joe Nuxhall on his tribute evening tonight to use his 60 years of good Reds karma to get the Reds a victory. They have lost two straight to the Cubs.
Cubs 12, Reds 4