Cubs battle back with power surge vs. Reds

Cubs battle back with power surge vs. Reds

CHICAGO -- As the Cubs spend the next two weeks preparing themselves for the postseason, the National League Central champions were given a chance to inch closer to their 100th win against a Reds team they've had their way with most of this season. By erupting for three runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth, Chicago emerged with the 5-2 victory at Wrigley Field on Monday night.

Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth inning for his 35th save as he faced his former team for the first time. Chapman was with Cincinnati from 2010-15. Due to the Nationals' loss, the Cubs' magic number to clinch home-field advantage in the NL postseason is five.

Cincinnati pitchers gave up three home runs late in the game to set a new Major League single-season record with 242 homers allowed -- eclipsing the old mark held by the 1996 Tigers. The Cubs (95-55) have hit 35 homers vs. the Reds this season and also hit at least one in 16 straight games.

Reds starter Tim Adleman carried a 2-0 shutout into the seventh when Addison Russell and Willson Contreras slugged solo home runs. Reliever Blake Wood took over and couldn't keep the game tied as a Chris Coghlan double and Dexter Fowler's two-out RBI single provided the go-ahead run.

Fowler's go-ahead RBI single

"Addison hits the homer, and that one put a different thought in the pitcher's head," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I mean, he's been going so well, and then all of the sudden the ball goes far, and then you think differently."

With two outs against Wood in the eighth, Jason Heyward lifted a two-run homer to left-center field to ice the game and give the Reds a dubious record. The Cubs have won 11 of 14 games vs. Cincinnati in 2016.

"We needed to outscore them today and not have to win a 2-1 or 2-0 game," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We were going to have to put more runs on the board. Realistically, to ask Tim Adleman to throw a shutout or give up one run in seven innings would have been a tall order against any team, but certainly a team like the Cubs that is as adept as they are at scoring runs."

Chapman notches the save

Cubs starter Jason Hammel picked up the win with two earned runs allowed over seven innings with four hits, one walk and six strikeouts. Adleman finished 6 1/3 innings with two earned runs, five hits, no walks and five strikeouts.

"I was happy that as the game went on, things got better," said Hammel, who improved to 15-9 and became the Cubs' fourth starter to reach at least 15 wins. "This team continues to prove as long you hang around for a little while, they're going to put up something and they'll make it exciting."

Digging the long ball: The solo homers by Russell and Contreras in the seventh each eclipsed 400 feet, according to Statcast™. Russell's, his 21st of the season, traveled a projected 401 feet to left-center field to lead off the inning. Two batters later, Contreras tied the game with a blast that landed on Waveland Ave. According to Statcast™, that one left the bat with a 109-mph exit velocity, at a launch angle of 31 degrees, and traveled a projected 461 feet. It was the longest home run hit at Wrigley Field this season and the longest by a Cubs player that wasn't hit at Coors Field. It was the hardest-hit homer of Contreras' career, too.

"I just didn't execute pitches on those two balls," Adleman said. "The first one to Russell was just a fastball over the plate that kind of ran back up and in where he could sort of handle it. The changeup to Contreras was just kind of a cookie."

Statcast: Contreras' 461-ft. HR

Phillips goes deep: Brandon Phillips put Hammel in an early 1-0 hole when he opened the second inning by hitting a 1-1 pitch into the left-field bleachers. Phillips' long ball had an exit velocity of 104 mph, according to Statcast™, and traveled a projected 415 feet. It was Phillips' 11th homer of the season.

Nice audition: Maddon said Hammel shouldn't feel like the rest of his season is an audition to make the Cubs' postseason roster. Regardless, this outing will give Chicago's decision-makers something to mull over. Hammel, who was 1-4 with an 8.61 ERA in his previous five starts, kept the Reds guessing for most of his start. The only runs he allowed came on Phillips' homer and a bloop single by Joey Votto, which followed Hernan Iribarren's triple in the sixth. There's no need for a fifth starter in the postseason, but Hammel could earn a relief role. More >

"I worked real hard on my slider in the [bullpen] between the last game and this one, and that's my bread and butter," Hammel said. "I have to get that pitch back. It had much better shape today, much better command."

Hammel's 15th victory

Quality start for Adleman: With the Reds facing a Tuesday game to be pitched by all relievers, it was paramount for Adleman to have a deep performance to preserve the bullpen. Adleman obliged with the quality start, but he could not hold the Cubs down when he returned for the bottom of the seventh with just 79 pitches thrown. The 6 1/3 innings were a career high for the rookie.

"I was really proud [of] innings one to six," Adleman said. "Against a good lineup like that, you have to attack because when you get into the 2-1, the 1-0, the 3-1 counts where you've got to throw the ball over the plate, they're really good at taking advantage of pitches that they can handle. … I felt pretty good out there for the most part but was really disappointed in the way it ended tonight."

Adleman retires Zobrist in 6th

"I wonder how many guys from Georgetown have pitched in the big leagues? I know they've been Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, but I don't think they've ever been that good of a right-handed pitcher. Really interesting. Good kid. Threw strikes, knew what he was doing, but I think the home run [by Russell] turned it around." -- Maddon, on Adleman, who was drafted out of Georgetown in 2010

The Cubs are the only team in the Majors with four pitchers who have at least 15 wins this season. The Cubs haven't had four pitchers reach the 15-win mark in the same season since 1935. They're the first team in the Majors with four 15-game winners since the Cardinals in 2004.

In the ninth, Scott Schebler thought he was hit on the arm by a 1-0 Chapman fastball up and in, while home-plate umpire Mike Estabrook thought otherwise. The Reds challenged, and after a review, it was determined that the call stands.

Reds challenge for a HBP

Reds: Reliever Josh Smith will get his first start of the season when he steps in for Tuesday's 8:05 p.m. ET game as the series continues. Smith threw 62 pitches over 3 2/3 innings on Saturday in relief vs. the Pirates. He was 0-4 with a 6.82 ERA in seven starts for Cincinnati last season.

Cubs: Jon Lester, who has won eight straight decisions, gets a chance to add to his bid for the NL Cy Young Award during Tuesday's 7:05 p.m. CT contest. Lester has held opponents to just one or zero runs in each of his past six starts. He is 1-0 with a 2.18 ERA against the Reds in three starts this season.

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Brian Hedger is a contributor to based in Chicago.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.