CHICAGO (AP) — Willson Contreras homered, Christopher Morel also went deep and nailed a runner at the plate with a terrific throw from center field, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 8-3 on Wednesday night.
Contreras got hit by a pitch and scored on a double by Ian Happ against Hunter Greene in the first inning. He made it 5-0 in the fifth when he lined a two-run drive against Luis Cessa for his 13th homer — tops among major league catchers — and also doubled twice.
Morel helped Justin Steele escape a bases-loaded jam in the fourth when he caught Donovan Solano’s line drive and fired a one-hop laser to the plate. Contreras hauled in the throw a little up the third-base line and reached to his right to tag Tommy Pham on the letters on his back as he slid by, ending the threat. The jubilant catcher then pointed toward the Chicago dugout and yelled.
Morel singled and scored in the fifth. He added a two-run homer deep into the left-field bleachers in the sixth against Ross Detwiler, bumping the lead to 7-1.
Nico Hoerner extended his hitting streak to seven games, matching a career high, when he smacked a two-run double in the fourth. He finished 1 for 3 after five consecutive multi-hit games.
Steele (3-5) exited with a 5-1 lead after Joey Votto doubled in a run with none out in the sixth. The left-hander gave up six hits and struck out six.
Scott Effross retired the next three batters, and the Cubs bounced back after opening a three-game series between the two worst teams in the not-so-great NL Central with a 5-3 loss.
Cincinnati has lost nine of 12.
Brandon Drury hit his 16th homer — a solo drive in the ninth. Greene (3-9) lasted four innings, allowing three runs and two hits.
Reds: OF Tyler Naquin (strained left quad) is scheduled to begin a rehabilitation assignment Thursday for Triple-A Louisville. … The Reds reinstated RHP Jeff Hoffman from the injured list and optioned RHP Jared Solomon to Louisville while adding him to the taxi squad.
Cubs: OF Seiya Suzuki (sprained left ring finger) is scheduled to begin a rehab stint with Triple-A Iowa on Thursday. He has not played since May 26. “We've missed him," manager David Ross said. “I think he's a big part of what we're doing here moving forward. The more experience he can gain, the better — better for us and him, speed things up for where we want to go.” Suzuki, who left Japan for a five-year, $85 million contract, is batting .245 with four homers in his first season with Chicago. ... Ross said OF Jason Heyward (sore right knee) is not improving, and the Cubs will have to ”take a hard look" at his situation. ... RHP Marcus Stroman (right shoulder inflammation) and LHP Drew Smyly (strained right oblique) will throw bullpens in the next few days.
Reds rookie RHP Graham Ashcraft (4-1, 3.27 ERA) looks to continue an impressive start to his career, while Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (3-6, 4.90) eyes his second straight win. Hendricks pitched scoreless ball into the eighth inning at St. Louis last week.