Votto, Reds top Cubs
CHICAGO — Sunday’s regular season finale was all business for Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto.
Votto went 2-for-4 in a last-ditch bid for the National League batting title, finishing with a .320 average as the Reds beat the Chicago Cubs 3-1 at Wrigley Field.
Rockies first baseman Charlie Blackmon went 1-for-2 against the Dodgers to unofficially close at .331.
While Votto fell short, Reds manager Bryan Price said he remains a worthy candidate as the league’s most valuable player despite a last-place 68-94 team mark.
“It would mean that it went to an extremely deserving player,” Price said. “I think there’s a lot of deserving players out there, but I get the chance to have that front-row seat of watching Joey play every day. So I’ve seen how he impacts the club. Without him, we’re nothing more than a fraction of what we are.”
For the Cubs, Sunday’s wrap-up felt more like a spring training game. Manager Joe Maddon substituted liberally — employing 20 different players — as the Cubs (92-70) look ahead to the National League postseason for the third straight season.
He even gave starter John Lackey a shot as a reliever.
“Give him a test out of the bullpen and see what it looked like and see how he felt, that kind of thing,” Maddon said. “He gave up a run, but I thought he had a really good slider coming out of the pen and his velocity was normal.”
Reds starter Deck McGuire (1-1) earned his first big league win in his sixth appearance and second start.
Lackey entered in relief of starter Mike Montgomery in the fourth inning and took the loss, giving up one run in a one-inning appearance. He slipped to 12-12.
Montgomery has played a variety of roles as a starter and reliever, including stepping in as Sunday starter in place of right-hander Jake Arrieta, still feeling the effects of a hamstring strain.
“It was a crazy year for me, a lot of different roles,” Montgomery said. “Relief, a couple of saves, some starts. I think it just helps me long term to be able to do different things. You always want to be valuable to the team and that’s how I looked at it.”
The Cubs threatened to break a scoreless tie in the third as Javier Baez collected their first hit with a one-out single to deep left-center. He reached third base on Montgomery’s infield grounder, thanks, in part, to two errors by third baseman Eugenio Suarez.
Taylor Davis, who replaced first baseman Anthony Rizzo in the second inning, popped out to second while Kris Bryant flied to center to end the threat.
Substitutions continued in the fourth inning as Montgomery departed after allowing one hit and striking out two over three innings.
Next up was Lackey, who gave up a one-out double to right to Votto that led to a Reds’ run.
Adam Duvall, who went 2-for-4, sliced a double to center on a 2-2 pitch to bring home Votto for a 1-0 lead.
Lackey worked one inning, allowing one run on two hits while striking out one.
He was followed by left-hander Rob Zastryzny in the fifth as the Reds opened a 2-0 lead. Phillip Ervin led off with a single, reached third on Tucker Barnhart’s double to left and scored on McGuire’s ground out to short.
Zastryzny also gave up a one-out single to Scooter Gennett in the sixth, scoring Duvall for a 3-0 lead.
McGuire worked five innings, allowing two hits and no runs while striking out a pair. He was replaced by right-hander Luke Farrell, who worked one scoreless inning.
Albert Almora Jr. broke the shutout with a ninth-inning solo home run to center off Raisel Iglesias, his ninth of the season. Iglesias earned his 28th save.
NOTES: Cincinnati Reds RHP Bronson Arroyo said on Sunday that he’ll wrap up a 16-season big league career. Arroyo, on the disabled since June 19 with a shoulder injury, was 148-137 with a 4.28 ERA in 419 big league games. ... The Reds had players on the disabled list 26 times in 2017, including three times by Devin Mesoraco, plagued separate by hip, shoulder and foot ailments. ... Chicago Cubs 3B Kris Bryant played in his 151st game of the season on Sunday and is the first in Cubs history to make at least 150 starts in his first three seasons. ... The Cubs scored more than 800 runs for the second straight season, closing with 822. ... The Cubs are the first defending World Series champion to make the playoffs the next season since the 2012 Cardinals landed a wild-card berth. ... The Cubs drew 3,199,562 fans during the 81-game regular season, the fourth-highest in team history.