CHICAGO (AP)Seiya Suzuki hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh inning, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 2-1 on Saturday for their sixth straight win.
Suzuki’s 14th homer – a two-out drive to left-center against Derek Law (2-3) – was Chicago’s first hit since the fourth and the last of three on the day. But the Cubs also had six walks and made the most of a strong performance by their bullpen.
”Complete team win,” manager David Ross said.
Cincinnati dropped its fifth straight game and 18th in its last 22 overall. It needs to win three of its last four – all against Chicago – to avoid the franchise’s second 100-loss season.
Reds rookie Nick Lodolo pitched five innings of one-run ball. But the left-hander issued a career-high five walks and hit a batter on a windy day at Wrigley Field.
”Nick did a good job,” Reds manager David Bell said. ”Pitched well, kept us in the game, definitely gave us a chance to win it.”
Cubs lefty Drew Smyly allowed one run and four hits in three innings in his first start since Sept. 14. He had been sidelined by shoulder stiffness.
”It felt awesome just to get back on the mound today and have a home start at Wrigley to finish the season off,” Smyly said.
After Smyly departed, Adbert Alzolay, Wade Miley (2-2), Manuel Rodriguez and Brandon Hughes combined for six hitless innings.
Miley worked two innings in his first appearance since he left his Sept. 24 start at Pittsburgh because of left oblique tightness. Hughes entered after Jake Fraley walked with two outs in the ninth and struck out pinch-hitter Alejo Lopez for his eighth save.
Miley has been limited to nine appearances this year because of injuries.
”I don’t know how much longer I’m going to get to do it,” the 35-year-old lefty said, ”so anytime I get an opportunity to spike it up, I’m going to do it.”
The Cubs jumped in front with a two-out rally in the second. David Bote walked and scored on Nelson Velazquez’s triple into the gap in right-center.
Two more walks loaded the bases, but Lodolo escaped the jam when Suzuki flied out to right.
The 24-year-old Lodolo finished his first big league season with a 3.66 ERA over 19 starts and 103 1/3 innings.
”He’s gotten better every step of the way,” Bell said, ”and that’s exactly what you want from a young pitcher.”
The Reds tied it with their own two-out rally in the third. Spencer Steer doubled and scampered home on Kyle Farmer’s single to right.
The Cubs paid tribute to outfielder Jason Heyward with a highlight video in the fourth. Heyward came out of the dugout, put on his 2016 World Series championship ring and took off his cap to acknowledge the cheering crowd of 31,256.
The 33-year-old Heyward hasn’t appeared in a game since June 24 because of right knee inflammation. He has one season left on a $184 million, eight-year contract, but President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer announced in August that Heyward would not be back with the team in 2023.
”I’m glad he got to get some love from the fans,” Ross said.
Cubs: LHP Justin Steele (low back strain) planned to throw a bullpen session on Saturday. ”We’ll see it how it goes. … The last one went well,” Ross said.
Right-handers Chase Anderson (2-3, 4.70 ERA) and Marcus Stroman (5-7, 3.66 ERA) start on Sunday. Anderson has a 2.50 ERA in his last four starts for Cincinnati, covering 18 innings. Stroman is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last three starts for Chicago.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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