CINCINNATI (AP) — Ian Happ had four RBIs while Mike Tauchman and Cody Bellinger each drove in three to help the Chicago Cubs cruise to a 15-7 rout of the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday and earn a split of a critical four-game series between the contending divisional rivals.
Chicago moved three games ahead of Cincinnati in the National League Central and currently holds the second NL wildcard. The Reds, Diamondbacks, Giants and Marlins are in a tight battle for the third and final wildcard spot.
Nick Madrigal and Tauchman each drove in two with bases-loaded singles off Reds All-Star closer Alexis Diaz in the seven-run Cubs eighth. Bellinger drove in another with a sacrifice fly, and a double by Dansby Swanson pushed two more across before the Reds could get out of it.
The Cubs, who banged out 18 hits, added three more runs in the ninth, including a solo homer by Jeimer Candelario.
The Chicago victory came after ninth-inning walk-off wins by the Reds in the second game of a doubleheader on Friday and then again on Saturday.
Tyler Stephenson had three RBIs for the Reds, including a two-run homer in the second inning. TJ Friedl and Spencer Steer hit back-to-back homers in the first inning off Cubs starter Jameson Taillon.
Reliever Daniel Palenci (5-0) got the win for the Cubs.
Carson Spiers, called up from Double-A Chattanooga Friday after three Reds pitchers went to the COVID-19 injury list, made his major league debut with the start.
He was roughed up a early but settled down to retire the Cubs in order in the third and fourth innings before giving way to six relievers. Derek Law (4-5), who surrendered three runs without getting an out in the eighth took the loss.
Cubs starter Jameson Taillon was roughed up early, too. After he struck out Nick Martini in the Reds first before Friedl and Steer homered. Stephenson followed with his two-run shot in the second to give the Reds a 4-3 lead.
Bellinger led off the Cubs sixth with a 407-foot homer to center — his third of the series — that chased Spiers.
The Cubs and Reds struck out a combined 23 times.
Cubs: Left-hander Justin Steele (15-3) will be on the mound to open a series Monday against San Francisco at Wrigley Field. Right-hander Logan Webb (9-11) is set to go for the Giants.
Reds: Right-hander Brian Woo (2-3) is the scheduled starter for the Seattle Mariners on Monday against a Reds pitcher still to be determined in the first of a three-game series in Cincinnati.
By Mitch Stacy, The Associated Press