CINCINNATI (AP) — The Cubs got to take a look at their future Wednesday night, starting a pair of newcomers. The result was just like the recent past.
The losing goes on.
Alfredo Simon became the NL’s first 12-game winner and Billy Hamilton added to his sensational series with a tiebreaking triple, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-1 victory over the trade-depleted Cubs.
The Reds won their fifth in a row — matching their season high — and moved a season-best seven games over .500. After winning the first four games of the series, they’ll try for their first five-game sweep since 1976 on Thursday.
It’s been a tough week for the Cubs, who have lost all six games — their deepest slump of the season — since they dealt starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland for a package of prospects.
Dallas Beeler (0-2) and several others will get a chance to move up from the minors and fill their spots. The 25-year-old pitcher gave up four runs, six hits and four walks in five innings while losing his second start in the majors.
For the new guys, it was quite a night getting a chance to play in the majors.
“It’s a whole bunch of fun,” said Beeler, who gave up six hits, four walks and four runs in five innings. “The results weren’t what I wanted, but I had a great time pitching.”
The Cubs also called up second baseman Arismendy Alcantara for a couple of days. The 22-year-old infielder batted second and went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. He’ll return to Triple-A Iowa when second baseman Darwin Barney returns from paternity leave.
“So far, I feel comfortable in the field and at home plate, too,” Alcantara said.
For the rest of the Cubs, it was a familiar feeling.
Simon (12-3), left off the All-Star team, became the first Reds pitcher to win a dozen games before the break since Edinson Volquez also went 12-3 in the first half of 2008. The reliever-turner-starter gave up four hits in 6 2-3 innings, including Anthony Rizzo’s third homer in four games.
Hamilton tripled home a run and scored during a three-run fifth against Beeler. Cubs manager Rick Renteria was ejected during the inning for arguing a foul ball call with third base umpire Andy Fletcher.
“He was more than patient enough with me,” Renteria said.
Hamilton is 7 for 15 with three triples, three walks, two steals and seven RBIs during the series. On Tuesday night, his ninth-inning single completed the Reds’ comeback from a five-run deficit to a 6-5 win and a doubleheader sweep. He left the game in the eighth with a tight left hamstring.
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips also left in the eighth after spraining his left thumb while making a sliding catch. X-rays were negative.
Simon has been one of the majors’ biggest surprises. Moved into the rotation when Mat Latos tore knee cartilage in spring training, the 33-year-old pitcher is having by far the best year of his career, ranking among the league leaders in several categories.
The right-hander walked two, matched his season high with eight strikeouts and threw 119 pitches, retiring 13 in a row during one stretch.
Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth for his 19th save in 21 chances. The left-hander has fanned at least one batter in each of his last 38 appearances, leaving him one shy of Bruce Sutter’s record for a reliever since 1900.
NOTES: The Reds’ last sweep of a five-game series came against San Diego in 1976. They haven’t swept the Cubs in a five-game series since 1931 at Redland Field. … RHP Kyle Hendricks will make his major league debut on Thursday, facing Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey (8-5). The Reds have won 10 of Bailey’s last 11 starts against the Cubs. … It was Renteria’s fifth ejection. … The Cubs optioned LHP Chris Rusin to Iowa to open a roster spot for Beeler.
Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.