Hammel, Rizzo power Cubs in rout of Reds

April 24th, 2016

CINCINNATI -- Through seven games of their season series vs. the Reds, the Cubs' offense has been relentless. Five of those contests have been blowouts in Chicago's favor, and Sunday was the latest romp. Led by Anthony Rizzo's two home runs, the Cubs recorded a 9-0 win over Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park.

Rizzo hit a two-run homer to right-center field in the first inning and another two-run shot to center field in the third inning -- both coming against Reds starter Alfredo Simon. The Cubs, who also scored two runs in the top of the second inning, had an 8-0 lead through three.

So far in the seven-game season series, the Cubs have outscored the Reds by a 60-20 margin. Cincinnati's lone win came on Saturday in the just-wrapped four-game series.Take away the 15-hit attack in that game, and Chicago pitching limited the Reds to eight hits with two shutouts in its three wins.

Rizzo has 5 HRs in 5 games for second time in career

"They roughed us up five out of the seven games we played. We lost six out of seven," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We understand they outplayed us. But going into New York, it's going to be a great atmosphere playing the National League champs and getting after it and looking for better results."

Cubs starter Jason Hammel was the latest Cubs pitcher to benefit from robust run support while he delivered six scoreless innings with three hits, two walks and seven strikeouts. Simon, who was scratched from his previously scheduled start with right biceps tendinitis, was done after he allowed eight earned runs and nine hits over 2 2/3 innings.

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"Jason Hammel, that's as well as he can throw a baseball," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

With the win, the Cubs have matched their best road start since 1914. They also opened 10-3 on the road in 1946, 1987 and 1995.

"We don't really pay attention to what's going on outside the lines," Hammel said. "Whether it's Yankee Stadium or Wrigley or Great American Ball Park, it doesn't matter to us, we're just going out there and playing the game. When you're winning, it's fun."


Solid relief:Drew Hayes, who gave up a grand slam on Thursday in his Major League debut, had a much better second outing on Sunday. Hayes followed Simon by allowing one earned run and four hits over 3 1/3 innings. Tommy La Stella's solo homer was the lone blemish. Trying a delivery he tweaked pregame, J.J. Hoover followed with 1 2/3 scoreless innings before running into trouble in the eighth with a double and two walks that loaded the bases. Ross Ohlendorf picked Hoover up and dealt 1 1/3 perfect innings.

"His stuff was better," Price said of Hoover. More >

Nice finish:Jason Heyward began the Cubs' road trip batting .205, and after going 0-for-9 in the first two games, he finished strong with four hits Sunday and three RBIs. In the final five games of the trip, Heyward was 10-for-20 with five RBIs, and he is now batting .260.

"He plays well every day," Maddon said of Heyward. "When that game begins, he's exactly the same guy, and I love that about him."

Bench players: Maddon wanted to give Dexter Fowler a breather and also give La Stella more at-bats. La Stella stepped into the leadoff spot and did his best Fowler imitation, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and a solo home run, scoring three runs.Maddon calls La Stella "3 a.m." because he feels the left-handed hitter can wake up that early in the day and hit.

"Three a.m., and 1-2," Maddon said. "He loves 1-2 counts, and he loves them at 3 o'clock in the morning. He has a lot of confidence, he has a great way about him and he understands his role perfectly."

By the way, La Stella hit his home run around 3 p.m. ET.

"For me, the big part of my game is controlling the strike zone and taking the walks," he said. "That's a big part for me."


In the first, Rizzo hit his seventh home run of the season and his 108th as a Cub to pass Shawon Dunston and move into sole possession of 18th place on the team's all-time home run list. Rizzo then added No. 109 in the third inning. Only four left-handed hitters have more home runs than Rizzo in Cubs history: Billy Williams (392), Bill Nicholson (205), Mark Grace (148) and Leon Durham (138).

Rizzo is also the first Cubs player with eight home runs in the first 19 games of the season since Williams did so in 1970.

With three more long balls on Sunday, Reds pitchers have allowed 34 homers this season, which is most in the Majors. The staff is on pace to give up 289 home runs in 2016, which would smash the single-season record of 241 set by the 1996 Tigers and the club record of 236 that was established in 2004. In the last 10 games, the Reds have surrendered 24 homers. There have been only two games out of their 19 this season without a homer allowed.


A fan touched Rizzo's first home run as it just cleared center fielder Scott Schebler's out-stretched mitt. Price talked to the umpires about it, and after a crew chief review, it was determined that no fan interference occurred.


"I thought after the first couple of innings today, we threw the ball well and played well. You can't panic and try to make a bunch of wholesale changes as far as our mentality is concerned when you're 19 games in. It's tough to do that. We're one game under .500. Still a long way to go." -- Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart


Cubs: After an off-day Monday, the Cubs open a six-game homestand Tuesday against the Brewers. Kyle Hendricks gets the start and a chance to rebound following a loss to the Cardinals in his last start. Prior to the game, the Cubs will honor Jake Arrieta, who threw his second career no-hitter last Thursday at Cincinnati. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field.

Reds: A seven-day, six-game road trip opens vs. the Mets at Citi Field at 7:10 p.m. ET Monday. Brandon Phillips has a 32-game road hitting streak vs. the Mets, including all 22 games he's played at Citi Field. Raisel Iglesias will pitch and make his first career start vs. New York.

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