CHICAGO -- Joey Votto hit a pair of doubles and Deck McGuire picked up his first Major League win in the Reds' regular-season finale, a 3-1 victory on Sunday at Wrigley Field over the Cubs, who started preparations for the postseason with an interesting in-game move.
Making his second big league start, McGuire held the Cubs to two hits over five scoreless innings and drove in a run with a groundout in the fifth inning as Cincinnati ended the season at 68-94.
"Two teams going into different directions -- we're going into the offseason, they're going to the postseason," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I'm sure [Cubs manager Joe Maddon] had a lot of that stuff scripted, who he wanted to play, how many at-bats, how many innings for the pitchers. We were the benefactors of that today. We still had to play a good game, pitchers had to throw strikes, we had to make the plays defensively and we did and it's certainly a better way to go into the offseason."
The National League Central champion Cubs closed the season at 92-70, and begin the next phase Friday at 6:30 p.m. CT when they face the Nationals in Game 1 of the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile at Nationals Park on TBS.
"I think the confidence is high going into the series and we're looking forward to that now," Chicago's Ben Zobrist said. "We feel confident, we feel experienced, and we feel we're going to keep our heads and hopefully execute."
Despite the loss, the Cubs posted the NL's best second-half record at 49-25.
"This club throughout the struggling first half kept coming at it," Zobrist said. "No one was resting on their laurels, thinking they had it all figured out. The other thing was the ability to stay loose and have fun. That always serves you well in pressurized situations."
"Give him a test out of the bullpen, see what it looked like, see how he felt, that kind of thing," Maddon said. " He gave up a run, whatever it was, but I thought he had a really good slider and his velocity was normal. I thought he looked pretty good."
Is Lackey, 38, who may be pitching in his final season, OK with pitching in relief?
"He's amenable," Maddon said.
Perhaps, but Lackey chose not to comment to the media postgame.
"That's not happening," Lackey said as reporters approached him.
Albert Almora Jr. homered with one out in the ninth for the Cubs' only run. This game had more of a Spring Training feel for the Cubs, who replaced all of the starters except for Ben Zobrist after five innings. Anthony Rizzo batted leadoff and was removed after one at-bat. The Cubs have three workouts this week before the NLDS begins to get ready.
Last year, the Cubs had to deal with the longest championship drought in professional sports, which they ended with the first World Series win since 1908. This year is different.
"From the moment you line up on the line, you're going to feel all the excitement, but you're going to be absolutely ready mentally to play the game," Maddon said. "You'll be unencumbered in the sense that you've done it, you know what it feels like, you know what you're supposed to do, you know who the opposition is. I'm counting on the fact that we've done this before. You know what to expect. Experience equals knowing."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Houdini: With one out in the Cubs' third, Javier Baez singled off the left-field wall and reached third on two errors charged to third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who had trouble picking up Montgomery's grounder, then overthrew Votto at first. McGuire escaped, though, when Taylor Davis popped up and Kris Bryant flew out to right.
Double or nothing: Lackey took over for the Cubs in the fourth and served up a one-out double to Votto, who moved up when the veteran right-hander was called for a balk. Adam Duvall then doubled down the left-field line to score Votto and take a 1-0 lead.
Votto reached safely in each of the final 32 consecutive games, also a season high, and reached in 150 of the 162 games he started. He also broke his own 2015 franchise record by reaching base a Major League-leading 321 times, including a second double in the eighth.
"I felt this was definitely the best year of my career," Votto said. More >
"It's been a really long journey. ... After the start in Milwaukee where I wasn't in the [strike] zone near as much as I would have liked to have been, today it was a point of emphasis for me to be around the zone, attack early and go from there." -- The 28-year-old rookie McGuire, who was pleased to get his first win
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Sunday's crowd of 40,971 boosted the Cubs' regular-season attendance at Wrigley to 3,199,562, the fourth highest in franchise history.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With two outs in the Reds' ninth and Billy Hamilton at first and pinch-hitter Jesse Winker at second, both tried to steal. Winker was called out at third on catcher Victor Caratini's throw to third baseman Ian Happ. The Reds challenged the call, and after a review, the call was ruled to stand. Hamilton was denied his 60th stolen base, which would have moved him into a tie with Dee Gordon for the Major League lead.
CUBS SALUTE ARROYO
In a class move by the Cubs after the third inning, the team congratulated injured Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo on his career as he heads into retirement. Arroyo, who was shown on the videoboard in the visitors' dugout, waved to the crowd in appreciation of their ovation. Before the game, Arroyo took pictures in front of the Wrigley Field ivy in right field to commemorate his last day in the Major Leagues.
WHAT'S NEXT Reds: Opening Day is scheduled for March 29, 2018, against the Nationals at Great American Ball Park.
Cubs: The Cubs begin postseason play Friday in Washington against the Nationals in the best-of-five National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile on TBS. Game times have yet to be announced.