Kyle Schwarber belted a three-run homer, Nicholas Castellanos added a two-run double, and the Chicago Cubs pulled away for an 8-2 win over the visiting Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.
Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist drove in one run apiece for Chicago (82-68), which won its fifth game in a row. The Cubs remained within two games of the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the National League Central, and they stayed a game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers for the league’s second wild-card berth with 12 games to play.
Chicago has scored 55 runs in its past four games, 13.8 per contest.
Cincinnati (70-81) lost for the second time in three games.
Cubs reliever Alec Mills (1-0) earned his first career win with two scoreless innings. He allowed one hit, walked none and fanned three.
Reds starter Kevin Gausman (3-9) gave up three runs on three hits in two innings. He fanned two without issuing a walk.
The Cubs jumped to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Zobrist and Kris Bryant each singled before Schwarber launched a 397-foot blast to center field for his team-leading 37th homer.
The Reds pulled within 3-1 in the third after Cubs starter Cole Hamels issued a two-out, bases-loaded walk to Curt Casali.
In the fourth, the Reds loaded the bases with one out. Phillip Ervin hit a sacrifice fly against Cubs reliever Steve Cishek to trim the deficit to 3-2, but Cishek struck out the next batter, slugger Eugenio Suarez, to end the inning.
The Cubs scored a pair of runs in the sixth to increase their lead to 5-2. Heyward doubled to center field to drive in Willson Contreras, who led off the inning with a single, and Zobrist followed three batters later with an RBI single to shallow left.
A three-run eighth pushed the Cubs’ advantage to 8-2. Heyward scored on a throwing error by Reds reliever R.J. Alaniz, and Castellanos padded the lead by driving in two on his 55th double of the season, which leads the majors.
Before the game, the Cubs announced that first baseman Anthony Rizzo will be in a walking boot for the next five to seven days as he recovers from a right ankle sprain. It is uncertain whether Rizzo will return before the end of the regular season.
—Field Level Media