CINCINNATI — Cody Bellinger homered and drove in three runs, rookie Jordan Wicks threw five innings of one-run ball and the Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 in the first game of a doubleheader Friday between the contending divisional rivals.
Bellinger had a solo homer in the fourth and drove in two more with a base hit in the sixth. Seiya Suzuki’s solo homer in the eighth and Ian Happ’s two-run shot in the ninth extended the Cubs’ lead.
Wicks (2-0) allowed five hits through five innings with three strikeouts and three walks. That came after a solid major league debut last Saturday when he allowed a run and two hits through five while striking out nine in a 10-6 win by the Cubs over the Pirates.
“Jordan did a nice job,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “I think he had to work really hard today. Those guys took a lot of good changeups down. He had to fill up the zone. He didn’t give in. It was a really tough lineup, all righties, who really hit changeups well.”
Heading into the second game of the twin bill, the Cubs are in second place in the National League Central and hold on to the second NL wild card. The Reds, third in the division, are two games out of the third wild-card slot in a tight race with the Giants, Diamondbacks and Marlins.
Bellinger started it in the fourth when he drove a slider from Reds starter Graham Ashcraft (7-9) deep into the right-field seats for his team-leading 21st homer.
Cincinnati answered in the bottom half with Noelvi Marte’s RBI base hit to tie it.
In the sixth, a single by Nico Hoerner and a double by Happ chased Ashcraft with no outs. On the first pitch from reliever Lucas Sims, Bellinger singled to right, driving in both runners.
Ashcraft was charged with three runs on six hits in five innings, while striking out six and walking one. It was his shortest outing since June 24 when he allowed 10 runs and exited after four innings in a 7-6 loss to the Braves.
“(He) pitched great. Gave us everything he had,” Bell said, adding that Ashcraft has been dealing with a sore toe that necessitated an MRI after the game.
Keegan Thompson allowed a run-scoring single by Will Benson in the ninth but struck out Elly De La Cruz to earn his first save.
THE NEW GUYS
Bell didn’t waste any time assimilating the team’s new acquisitions. Harrison Bader started in center field and Hunter Renfroe in right field, batting first and fourth, respectively in the order for the first game of the doubleheader. Bader was claimed off waivers from the Yankees, and Renfroe from the Angels on Thursday. Bader was 0 for 3, and Renfroe was 0 for 4.
Reds: RHP Hunter Greene was placed on the COVID-19 injured list for at least seven days. Starting pitcher Ben Lively and reliever Fernando Cruz also were put in the list. … OF Jake Fraley was activated after opting to delay surgery on a broken toe until after the season. He pinch-hit in the seventh and grounded out. … Bell said LHP Nick Lodolo (tibia) will miss the rest of the season but won’t require surgery. The team had hoped he could return this season. … RHP Justin Dunn will have shoulder surgery.
Chicago brought up RHP Shane Greene and OF Alexander Canario from Triple-A Iowa.
The Cubs and Reds play the second game of the doubleheader starting at 6:40 p.m. ET.
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