CHICAGO – Sunday was a day of joy and celebration on more than one front for the Cubs.
First and foremost, they scored another come-from-behind victory, one in which they also blew a late lead.
Rookie David Bote’s bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 10th inning scored Willson Contreras with the winning run to give the Cubs a 6-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field.
Closer Brandon Morrow blew a save in the ninth when he gave up a home run to Adam Duvall to tie the game at 5-all as both teams spent the day exchanging leads.
Minutes after scoring the winning run, Contreras talked about not only the thrill of victory, but the elation he felt at being voted in by the fans for the
All-Star Game. He joined second baseman Javy Baez, who also was voted in.
It will be the first All-Star Game for each of these two rising young players. Joining them will be Sunday’s starting pitcher, Jon Lester, who was named to his fifth All-Star team.
The All-Star Game will be played July 17 at Nationals Park in Washington.
“It took me by surprise,” Contreras said. “I knew today they were going to tell me something about if, if I made it or not. But I’m so glad, and I’m so happy to be selected by the fans. Being there means a lot to me. I have to be thankful to God for giving me the health throughout the whole year. I thank the fans. I thank my family and friends. They give me the big support to be there.
“My first reaction was, ‘I have no words to say,’ but I started crying when I went down to the [batting] cage because I worked for it, and I’ve been working every single game.”
Lester sounded more excited for Contreras than he did for himself. For the two, it was a transition going from now-retired veteran David Ross catching Lester in 2015 and ’16 to Contreras getting that job.
“For me personally, just more kind of gratifying for Willson,” said Lester, who got a no-decision Sunday as his record held at 11-2, and his ERA went from 2.25 to 2.45. “I know our relationship has grown a lot over the last couple of years.
“I know the whole Rossy thing is kind of always in the back of his mind, I’m sure, every time we take the ball. It’s nice for him to get rewarded for his hard work and what he’s done. That just doesn’t apply to me. It applies to the whole pitching staff.”
Contreras has a line of .287/.372/.466 with seven homers and 34 RBIs.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon called Contreras the best catcher in baseball. Baez may be the most exciting player in the game, as he hits, makes plays in the field and runs the bases with daring, skill and intelligence.
His line is .295/.328/.565 with 17 homers and 65 RBIs. He shares the team lead in homers with Kyle Schwarber.
“Really excited,” Baez said. “Obviously, I think everybody plays to be in the All-Star Game. Blessed. Thank you to all the fans that voted for me every day. It really means a lot to me and my family and, obviously, for the team, too.”
The Cubs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning Sunday on Addison Russell’s two-run double.
The Reds got a run in the third and two more in the fourth, on Eugenio Suarez’s 19th homer. After the teams traded runs, the Cubs went ahead, 5-4, in the seventh on alert baserunning.
Baez singled to center with two outs, scoring Albert Almora from third and Jason Heyward all the way from first as Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton took his time getting the ball back into the infield. Heyward was running on the pitch.
The victory moved the Cubs to a season-best 15 games over .500 at 51-36 and kept them 11/2 games behind first-place Milwaukee in the Central Division.
“We don’t lose hope,” Baez said.