CINCINNATI (AP) — When it comes to playing two, the Chicago Cubs can’t even win one.
The Cubs got swept in a doubleheader for the third time this season, losing to the Cincinnati Reds 4-2 and 6-5 on Tuesday. They blew a five-run lead in the nightcap, with their bullpen allowing the Reds to pull off their biggest comeback of the season.
“This one’s tough on us all,” said Anthony Rizzo, whose homer helped build the early lead. “It’s not easy to swallow.”
The Cubs are having a tough time with doubleheaders, getting swept in all three this season — by the Yankees, Nationals and Reds. They’re also having a tough time getting beyond their big trade.
Chicago has lost all five games since dealing starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland for a package of prospects.
“Believe you me, I think the furthest thing from their mind when they’re playing right now is the trade, if I can be frank,” manager Rick Renteria said. “That’s done. It’s over.”
Now, the Cubs start to feel the full effect. They have pitchers making their big league debuts in two of the three games, trying to fill in for the traded starters.
“It’s always a challenge when you lose good guys like Samardzija and Hammel,” said left-hander Travis Wood, who lost the opener. “We’ve got some young guys coming up. Hopefully they can add a spark.
“You knew it was going to happen. You didn’t really expect it to be both (traded) at the same time, but we were prepared.”
Left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada got a chance to make his major league debut in the nightcap. Wada pitched nine years in Japan and injured his elbow during his first spring training with Baltimore in 2012, requiring reconstructive surgery.
He gave up one unearned run in five innings, leaving after 87 pitches. Renteria would have liked to keep him in.
“He threw strikes and kept the ball down in the zone,” Renteria said. “He had a tough time that last inning, but he worked through it well. If I didn’t feel like he was out of gas, I would’ve sent him back out there for the sixth. I felt he gave us a very, very good effort.”
Wada said through a translator that he was nervous at the outset.
“It’s been a while since I’ve pitched in a park like this,” he said. “I’m definitely excited to pitch in this environment. I enjoyed it. It was very exciting.
“Walking to the mound, I was going back in my mind through the last three years. It was emotional coming here to pitch. I was excited.”
Renteria said it’s likely that he’ll get another start.
The bullpen let the lead get away. Billy Hamilton’s RBI single in the ninth off Hector Rondon (1-3) finished it.
In the first game, Jay Bruce hit a two-run homer off Wood (7-7) as part of a decisive three-run first inning. Johnny Cueto (9-6) extended his stretch of success against the Cubs. He’s 5-0 in his last seven starts against Chicago, allowing only six earned runs for a 1.19 ERA.
Cueto gave up six hits, including back-to-back homers in the sixth by Chris Coghlan and Ryan Sweeney. Coghlan homered in both games and is 7 for 12 in the series with two homers and two doubles.
The Reds improved to 34-12 against the Cubs over the last three seasons.
NOTES: The game made up an April 28 postponement. ... The start of the second game was delayed 35 minutes because of a forecast of rain. ... Cubs OF Junior Lake snapped an 0 for 20 slump with a single in the ninth off Aroldis Chapman in the opening game. ... Reds 3B Todd Frazier will participate in the All-Star Home Run Derby.
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