Cubs hit 5 jacks, don't stop at 21 in Vegas

Cubs hit 5 jacks, don't stop at 21 in Vegas

LAS VEGAS -- Anthony Rizzo hit a home run on the first pitch he saw and Albert Almora Jr. smacked a pair of homers and an RBI double to finish with five RBIs and power the Cubs to a 22-4 victory on Sunday over the Reds in a split-squad game for both teams at Cashman Field.

Cubs prospect Bijan Rademacher added a grand slam in an eight-run sixth, and Victor Caratini drove in three runs for the game. Charcer Burks hit Chicago's fifth homer of the game, a three-run shot in the eighth, and Yasiel Balaguert capped the Cubs' scoring with a two-run double in the ninth.

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Rizzo's monster solo home run

The Cubs sent 11 batters to the plate in the first against Tim Adleman. Rizzo, who lobbied to lead off to get more at-bats, justified the switch and launched the first pitch from Adleman over the right-field wall for his third spring homer. Kris Bryant doubled to right, Kyle Schwarber walked and Almora followed with a three-run homer for a 4-0 lead.

Almora Jr.'s two homers, double

One out later, Chesny Young and Caratini hit back-to-back doubles to put the Cubs ahead, 5-0. Pitcher Eddie Butler added an RBI single.

Butler's RBI single

Adleman, who is in contention for either the Reds' rotation or the bullpen, settled down and did not give up another hit over the next 2 1/3 innings.

Jesse Winker led off the Reds' second with a home run, one of seven hits off Butler, who will likely open the season at Triple-A Iowa. Winker also doubled to lead off the fourth and reached third on a groundout. Winker tried to score on Phillip Ervin's fly ball to right, but third-base umpire Dana DeMuth ruled Winker left third base early.

Cubs notch an out after appeal

Chicago added three more runs in the fourth against Nick Routt on an RBI double by Almora, an RBI single by Tommy La Stella and an RBI double by Caratini.

For Butler, this may have been his last chance to impress the Cubs.

"I've been able to throw a lot of strikes and let the guys play behind me and they've been putting up runs every time I'm out there," said the right-hander, who threw his curveball more on Sunday to work on it.

The Reds' Joey Votto did get two singles off Butler, who wasn't surprised.

"He's a tough out," Butler said of the Reds' first baseman. "He has one of the best two-strike approaches. He shortens down, gets on top of the plate and he's just battling. Today, he flicked a couple balls to left field and got a couple knocks off me."

Butler is projected to open the season at Triple-A Iowa.

"I understand there's business behind it," Butler said. "I'm trying to make that decision as hard as I can. If I end up down there, I'll do everything I can to be back up as quick as possible. I'll go out and dominate as much as I can and show them I should've made the team out of spring."

Schwarber was lifted for a pinch-runner in the first. He had played Friday and Saturday and just wanted one at-bat on Sunday. This spring, he's played back-to-back games and gotten the third off as he comes back from knee surgery last April.

Reds Up Next: Following two days of split-squad games, the Reds will be one bunch again Monday when facing the Giants at 4:05 p.m. ET in Scottsdale, Ariz. Cody Reed will get his last opportunity to make a bid for the rotation. The left-handed Reed has a 3.24 ERA through his five games, including three starts.

Cubs Up Next: Opening Day starter Jon Lester will have his final tuneup on Monday when the Cubs face the Indians in a night game in Goodyear, Ariz. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. CT. This will be Lester's third Cactus League start -- he's made two starts in Minor League games, as well. Lester faced the Tribe three times in the 2016 World Series, including three innings in relief in Game 7.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.