In a game that saw Randy Wells take a no-hitter into the seventh inning, the Cubs managed to strand an astounding 17 baserunners, falling one short of the National League record of 18.
The Cubs were an anemic 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position.
"We played a good baseball game," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "We got a lot of opportunities, but we got enough of them in, and let's enjoy the win."
In each of the first seven innings, the Cubs managed to strand two or more runners. In the third, fifth, and sixth innings, they left the bases loaded.
Through the first five innings, the Cubs were unable to get that one big hit, going 1-for-11 over that span with runners in scoring position. The lone hit, a Ryan Theriot single in the fourth inning, was hit too hard to score Starlin Castro from second.
Alfonso Soriano finally broke through in the sixth with a bases-loaded bloop that landed just under Chris Heisey's glove to plate one run.
"Thank God I put the ball in play, and nobody caught it," Soriano said. "Sometimes we hit the ball so hard, we make an out. Sometimes with a bloop, you get a hit. Finally, I got the hit, and I think that was a very important hit for the team."
Geovany Soto followed with a two-run ground-rule double to left field, and those two hits accounted for the Cubs' entire offensive output. In keeping with the rest of the Cubs' luck in the first half of the season, Soto's double got stuck in the ivy to wipe a sure run off the board.
"Yeah, then the ball gets stuck in the ivy and costs us another [run]," said Piniella. "Well, three looked like 13 to me."
The Cubs could take solace in all the batters that managed to get on base, as that aspect of the game had been sorely lacking in recent days. But still, putting up zeroes inning after inning was weighing on the team.
The Cubs did not take batting practice before the game, due to the 12:05 PM CT start time. Piniella had suggested that less work on hitting might help the players relax.
"Every time you get guys in scoring position, you try your best to get them in," Soto said. "Every time you don't do it, it's like, 'Here we go again.' Trust me, we're doing our best out there. Sometimes that's the way it goes. Luckily, today was a good day for us."
Part of the reason those three runs felt like 13 to Piniella was how well the Cubs starter was throwing at the time.
Wells set down 18 of the first 19 batters he faced, only allowing Paul Janish to reach on a walk in the third inning. Wells admitted to knowing that he had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning.
"Yeah, it's kind of hard not to," Wells said. "You just try to keep that out of your mind and focus on trying to get guys out."
The seventh inning spelled trouble for Wells, however, as Heisey ended his no-hit bid by smacking a solid single to left field that dropped in front of Alfonso Soriano. The Reds eventually got runners on second and third with one out, but Wells set down Jay Bruce and Ramon Hernandez to end the threat.
The Cubs hurler pounded the strike zone all game long: 71 of his 99 pitches were strikes.
"I felt good in the bullpen for the first time in a long time," Wells said. "I felt like I could take it right out of the bullpen into the game. I commanded the ball down, and made a couple adjustments in my mechanics."
Wells (4-6) snapped what had become a six-game losing streak in the process.
"Obviously, I had pretty good results," Wells said. "I was just pleased with it right out of the bullpen today; I had a feel for the fastball down and away and that breaking ball. I was able to move the ball in and out, and up and down. Everything was kind of clicking for me."
Wells came back out for the eighth and was able to shake off a leadoff double by Jayson Nix to retire Orlando Cabrera and Jonny Gomes.
The Cubs' righty was then lifted, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd of 40,677. He left the game having given up five hits and one run over the course of 7 2/3 innings.
Louie Horvath is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.