Reds spot starter Josh Smith mowed through the first four innings, carrying a perfect game on 42 pitches. However, Ben Zobrist collected the Cubs' first hit and run with a home run leading off the fifth, and the Cubs' rout was on. Zobrist added another home run, Anthony Rizzo drove in two and Addison Russell added an RBI to lead the Cubs to a 7-3 win over the Reds.
"Getting a few results, hitting the ball harder, driving the ball a few times in the last week has really helped," said Zobrist, who notched his seventh career multi-homer game. "Regardless of whether you make the playoffs or not, you want to finish the season strong and try to click on all cylinders at the last game."
"That ball to Zobrist, I just missed my spot," Smith said of the homer in the fifth. "That's a pitch that I was throwing, backdoor cutters all night, and it was working for me, and I just missed the spot and he took advantage of it. Got a little tired in the sixth, but other than that, felt pretty good."
The Cubs piled on the insurance runs off the Reds' bullpen, driving in four in the eighth on a walk and two singles before Zobrist hit his second homer of the game, a two-run shot. That home run was the 39th by the Cubs against the Reds this season, the most against a single team in one season in franchise history. The Cubs now have topped the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and 1954 Brooklyn Dodgers, who each totaled 38 home runs against the Reds in a single season.
Most of Cincinnati's firepower came in the ninth, courtesy of a long Joey Votto homer to center field, his 29th. The Reds' only other run came in the sixth off Trevor Cahill when Jose Peraza doubled and then scored on a groundout.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Clutch: Rizzo and Russell began the day tied for the most RBIs on the Cubs in the second half with 43 each, and both added to their totals. Russell smacked an RBI double in the seventh, while Rizzo hit a two-run single in the eighth. Russell now has 95 RBIs, second most among all Major League shortstops. The Astros' Carlos Correa is first with 96.
Start me up: Friday was supposed to be Jason Hammel's start, but the right-hander was scratched because of tightness in his elbow. The Cubs opted for a second straight bullpen day, and right-hander Jake Buchanan did well enough to win. He gave up two hits over five scoreless innings, walking one and striking out three. It was his third Major League start and first since 2014.
"I didn't know what to expect," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Buchanan, who had been starting at Triple-A Iowa. "We knew he was capable of 60 to 75 pitches; we knew he was efficient. Give him credit. It was a nice, typical formula for us."
Buchanan admitted he didn't know what to expect, either.
"With a batter in there, and the crowd, I was just hoping to throw strikes and compete," Buchanan said. "I think it's the first time in 25 days [that I've pitched in a game]. It felt good to get back out there."
Votto goes deep: After an 0-for-3 start to his night, Votto got things going with a Statcast-estimated 420-foot blast to center field with a 104.1-mph exit velocity. The homer was Votto's 15th of the second half as he continues his stellar post All-Star Game stretch. With the 1-for-4 night, Votto has a .407 average in the second half. If he can maintain it, he'd be the first player since Ichiro Suzuki in 2004 to have a .400 batting average in the second half.
Cingrani's escape: Things could've gotten out of hand for the Reds in the fifth, but Tony Cingrani was able to come in and settle things down. Inheriting the bases loaded, Cingrani allowed one of Smith's runs to score on a groundout before managing to catch Kris Bryant leaning at first base. The ensuing rundown ended up getting Tommy La Stella caught between third and home, and he was eventually tracked down to end the inning.
"The guy that made the play, really, was Joey," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I think they were trying to steal a run there. Bryant gets a huge lead. Tony throws over, and La Stella breaks and realizes that he can't make it because Joey doesn't turn and fire to the shortstop, he turns and checks the runner first and gets La Stella in the rundown. That's how that play has to work."
"There weren't a lot of really golden moments in that game beyond the home run and the job that Smitty did. However, I wish I had more to tell you, but that's about it." -- Price
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Pinch-hitting in the eighth, Patrick Kivlehan became the 52nd player to play for the Reds this season, the most used by the franchise in a single season since 2006. The club record is 57, set in 2003.
The Cubs have homered in 10 straight games at Great American Ball Park, and have totaled 23 this year in Cincinnati.
WHAT'S NEXT Cubs:Jon Lester will try for his first career 20-win season on Saturday. The lefty, who ranks second in the Major Leagues in ERA at 2.28, is 1 1/3 innings shy of 2,000 in his career, and 2 1/3 innings shy of 200 this season. He has gone 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA in four starts against the Reds this year. Lester could become the first Cubs pitcher since Rick Sutcliffe in 1984 to go 10-0 or better in the second half. Sutcliffe was 12-0 that season. First pitch will be 3:10 p.m. CT from Great American Ball Park.
Reds: The Reds send rookie Tim Adleman to the mound for a 4:10 p.m. ET first pitch against the Cubs on Saturday. Adleman is coming off of a career-long seven-inning performance against the Cardinals in which he allowed two runs. In his only start against the Cubs, Adleman allowed two runs over 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision on Sept. 19.