CINCINNATI (AP) — After a sputtering start, the Cubs’ offense is finally rolling. And it’s no surprise that they’re breaking out at Great American Ball Park, a place that’s just their style.
Wilson Contreras hit his first career grand slam and Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward added three-run shots on Saturday, powering Chicago to a 12-8 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
Jake Arrieta (3-0) returned to the mound where he threw his second career no-hitter last April 21 and struggled mightily at the outset, giving up two homers in the first inning. Chicago’s offense pulled him through with another homer-filled game at Great American Ball Park. Arrieta helped with an RBI triple.
“We’ve been making the most of them the last few games,” Heyward said of the big hits.
The Cubs have won 20 of their last 24 games against the Reds, including 17 of 21 at Great American. The Cubs have homered in each of their last 14 games in Cincinnati, which suits their power-laden lineup.
“We’ve had some hiccups, but we’ve been picked up by our offense,” said Arrieta, who gave up five runs in six innings. “As starting pitchers, we have to take advantage of our offense.”
In the series opener, Rizzo’s three-run homer tied it with two outs in the ninth and set up a 6-5 win in 11 innings. He connected in the first inning on Saturday against left-hander Cody Reed (1-1), who was moved into the Reds’ injury-depleted rotation. Contreras his his grand slam in the second, which was Reed’s final inning.
“We score, what, nine runs and we lose? That’s tough,” Reed said.
Heyward’s second homer in two days made it 11-5 in the sixth. The Cubs hit 42 homers against Cincinnati last season, the most by any Reds’ opponent in their history. Chicago has six homers in the first two games of the series.
Arrieta was pitching on six days’ rest. He needed 53 pitches to get through the first two innings. Joey Votto hit a three-run homer in the first — he drove in five runs overall — and Eugenio Suarez followed with a solo shot.
“I feel like I did my job after that first inning or so,” said Arrieta, who struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter. “After that, you want to protect the lead and get as deep into the game as you can.”
Arrieta knocked in a run with his fourth career triple, a drive to right field that Scooter Gennett misplayed and missed as he tried to make a diving catch on the warning track.
Cubs: Ben Zobrist was held out for a second straight game because of a stiff back. Manager Joe Maddon expects him to be available on Sunday.
Reds: Manager Bryan Price said RH Rookie Davis could return from the DL and start on Wednesday at Milwaukee. Davis is recovering from a bruised forearm.