CHICAGO (AP) — Joey Votto, Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Will Benson each had two hits, and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Chicago Cubs 6-5 on Monday night in the opener of a key four-game series between NL Central contenders.
After Andrew Abbott struggled, six Cincinnati relievers combined for 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball. Buck Farmer (3-4) got five outs for the win, and All-Star Alexis Díaz worked the ninth for his 32nd save in 33 opportunities.
Cincinnati (59-49) improved to 4-3 on a 10-game trip. It also increased its lead in the division to 1 1/2 games over Milwaukee.
Dansby Swanson hit his 13th homer for third-place Chicago (53-53), and Yan Gomes had three of the team’s eight hits. But the Cubs were unable to overcome another shaky performance by Marcus Stroman (10-8).
With the trade deadline looming on Tuesday, Chicago acquired infielder Jeimer Candelario and right-hander José Cuas in a pair of deals. Candelario, who made his big league debut with the Cubs in 2016, hit .258 with 16 homers and 53 RBIs in 99 games with Washington.
Cincinnati also made a trade, acquiring left-handed reliever Sam Moll in a deal with Oakland.
Chicago trailed 6-4 before Christopher Morel hit an RBI double off Ian Gibaut in the eighth. But Mike Tauchman struck out on a disputed check swing and Nick Madrigal grounded out, ending the inning.
Díaz then retired the Cubs in order in the ninth.
Cincinnati jumped in front with four consecutive two-out hits against Stroman in the second inning. Benson doubled home Votto and then scored on Luke Maile’s two-run double.
After the Reds opened a 6-1 lead with three more runs in the third, including RBI singles for Votto and Jake Fraley, the Cubs responded with three in the bottom half against Abbott.
Seiya Suzuki and Ian Happ hit consecutive sacrifice flies, and Gomes added a run-scoring single. Abbott then escaped the jam when he struck out Morel with runners on the corners.
Stroman allowed six hits, struck out two and walked two in three innings. The All-Star right-hander dropped to 1-4 with a 9.00 ERA in his last seven starts.
Abbott was charged with four runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings. The rookie left-hander won his previous two starts, allowing a total of eight hits over 14 scoreless innings.
Reds: To make room for Moll on the 40-man roster, RHP Hunter Greene (right hip pain) was transferred to the 60-day injured list.
Cubs: RHP Brad Boxberger (forearm strain) is expected to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. … RHP Nick Burdi (appendectomy) is scheduled for live batting practice on Tuesday. … LHP Brandon Hughes (left knee inflammation) continues to play catch this week.
Cubs left-hander Justin Steele (11-3, 2.87 ERA) goes for his third straight win when he takes the mound on Tuesday night. Right-hander Ben Lively (4-6, 3.76 ERA) starts for the Reds.