Lester, Russell lead Cubs past Reds

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 18: Homer Bailey #34 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on May 18, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 18: Homer Bailey #34 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on May 18, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Jon Lester pitched six dominant innings, Addison Russell tied his career high with four hits and the Chicago Cubs quickly took control with a three-run first inning on the way to an 8-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds in the opener of their four-game series Friday night.

Playing in a steady downpour that delayed the start of the game by 93 minutes, Willson Contreras added three hits and six different players each drove in at least one run for the Cubs, who’d lost three of their last four games.

Lester (4-1) faced one batter over the minimum through the first four innings and held the Reds hitless until Scooter Gennett led off the fourth with a sharp one-hopper past diving first baseman Anthony Rizzo. The left-hander allowed Cincinnati’s only two hits and one walk with a season-high eight strikeouts and even contributed a safety squeeze sacrifice bunt while Chicago was breaking the game open with a two-run fifth inning.

The Reds, coming off a successful 5-2 road trip through Los Angeles and San Francisco, managed just two baserunners before Adam Duvall hit Lester’s first pitch of the fifth inning out to left field for his ninth home run.

The Cubs were happy just to be playing after seeing their game on Thursday at Atlanta postponed by rain before it even started after waiting for 2 hours, 20 minutes. They tattooed Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey, building a 3-0 lead by the time Bailey threw his 19th pitch. Chicago’s first five batters all got hits before interim pitching coach Danny Darwin visited the mound.

Bailey (1-6) allowed 10 hits in five or fewer innings for the second consecutive game. Opponents have reached the right-hander for 28 hits in 13 2/3 innings over his last three games. He gave up six runs and issued five walks with three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: OF Jason Heyward was activated before the game from the seven-day concussion disabled list.

Reds: 3B Eugenio Suarez returned to the starting lineup after missing Wednesday’s game at San Francisco with a right ankle injury he suffered on Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (3-3) will start the first game of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader. LHP Jose Quintana is scheduled to start the nightcap.

Reds: RHP Luis Castillo (3-4) is the projected starter for the first game of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader with RHP Sal Romano (2-4) starting the nightcap.

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