CHICAGO -- The Cubs belted six home runs, including back-to-back-to-back jacks in the fourth inning, to erase a nine-run deficit, but the Reds reclaimed the lead on rookie Phillip Ervin's tie-breaking, two-run homer in the seventh to secure a crazy 13-10 victory on Thursday at Wrigley Field that split the four-game series.
"When you score 10 runs today and lose, that's difficult to swallow," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
"Just because you lost the lead, it's not like you should be just 'whatever,'" said Reds reliever Drew Storen, who got the victory with a scoreless sixth inning that ended with a double play liner into his glove from Kris Bryant. "It's really about grinding and understanding you need to give your hitters an opportunity to take that lead back and we'll take care of the rest."
The Cubs tied a franchise record with four home runs in the fourth, including consecutive blasts by Alex Avila, Ian Happ and Javier Baez. Kyle Schwarber then joined in the home run derby with a leadoff shot in the fifth off Michael Lorenzen to pull within 9-7. Bryant, who had opened the fourth with a home run, walked and scored on Anthony Rizzo's second double of the game, and one out later, Avila tied it at 9 with an RBI double.
The Cubs could not celebrate a moral victory because of their rally.
"We lost the game," Avila said. "It would've been great if we would've won that game. A game you're not supposed to win, you end up winning is a better story. It's a loss."
The Reds answered in the seventh against Cubs reliever Justin Grimm, who walked Eugenio Suarez. One out later, Ervin hit his second home run in as many games, and just the second of his Major League career. Pitching for the third day in a row, Reds lefty reliever Wandy Peralta followed with a perfect eighth and Raisel Iglesias closed it for his 22nd save.
On this road trip at Milwaukee last Friday, the Reds nearly blew a 10-2 lead before getting an 11-10 win. Thursday's win had much the same feel.
"When you're playing in this park and the wind's blowing out, anything can happen," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "These guys are putting the ball in play and they're lifting the ball and getting it up in the air. There's a chance for them to get back in this game in a hurry."
The Cubs began the day with a 1 1/2-game lead over the Brewers in the National League Central.
The loss may be costly to the Cubs because starter Jon Lester had to exit in the second with tightness in his left lat. The left-hander needed six pitches to retire the side in the first but served up eight runs on seven hits in the second. He threw 40 pitches to 11 batters over two-thirds of an inning. Lester was examined late Thursday by the Cubs orthopedic specialist, and an update was expected on Friday.
"When a pitcher of his stature is potentially injured, of course, you're concerned," Maddon said. "Let the doctor see him and go from there. Right now, I'm not going to jump to any negative conclusions."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Big inning: The Reds sent 13 batters to the plate in the second and set season highs in hits and runs scored in one inning. They rattled off four straight hits to start the inning, including RBI singles by Scooter Gennett and Ervin. Two outs later, Billy Hamilton walked and Jose Peraza hit a two-run single. Votto connected on his 32nd home run to open a 7-0 lead. Adam Duvall reached on a fielding error by third baseman Bryant and Suarez followed with an RBI double. That was it for Lester. Ervin greeted Mike Montgomery with an RBI double and Gennett tried to score on the play but was thrown out at home on a 7-4-2 relay.
Big boppers: Trailing 9-1 in the fourth, Bryant led off with his 23rd homer, and Rizzo doubled. One out later, Avila, Happ and Baez smacked consecutive blasts off Reds starter Scott Feldman to close to 9-6. It's the first time the Cubs have hit three straight homers since Derrek Lee, Sammy Sosa and Michael Barrett did so on Sept. 15, 2004, against the Pirates.
"When you're playing at Wrigley and the wind is blowing out, you always feel like you have a chance, especially with our lineup," Happ said. "To go back to back to back there and put us back in it, we gave ourselves a chance."
"We've got 51 wins and it feels like you're giving up a body part to extract each victory. You play a lot of close games, we have a lot of games where we're behind and we're fighting to get back into them. We've had some games where we've had some leads and they've gotten away, and we've played our share of one- and two-run games. We haven't yet got on that roll where we win 10 straight and win by five or more every game. That's the streak I'm looking for." -- Price
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Reds last squandered a nine-run lead in a win on Aug. 25, 2010, against the Giants.
The Cubs lost despite scoring 10 runs for the first time since May 28, 2006, vs. the Braves when they lost, 13-12, in 11 innings.
WHAT'S NEXT Reds: The road trip moves on to its third city -- Atlanta -- when the Reds play the Braves at 7:35 p.m. ET on Friday. Rookie Sal Romano will make the start and it will mark Cincinnati's first visit to the new SunTrust Park. From 1997-2016, the Reds were 27-42 at Turner Field.
Cubs:Jake Arrieta opens the Cubs' Interleague series against the Blue Jays on Friday. He's coming off his sixth straight quality start in which he gave up one run over six innings against the D-backs. He's 5-2 with a 2.10 ERA since July 2. First pitch was scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT from Wrigley Field.