Rizzo's 2 homers, 4 RBIs lead Cubs to 9-0 rout of Reds
CINCINNATI (AP) Anthony Rizzo's sessions with Chicago Cubs assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske are starting to pay off.
Rizzo drove in four runs with his 10th career two-homer game, Jason Hammel pitched six sharp innings and the Chicago Cubs routed the Cincinnati Reds 9-0 on Sunday to improve to 14-5 for the first time in 47 years.
''It's just baseball,'' said Rizzo, who has eight home runs this season. ''I opened my stance a little bit but nothing major. You stay with the process. The formula is there. Things will take care of themselves.''
With Ben Zobrist and Dexter Fowler getting the day off, Tommy La Stella had his first homer of the season and two doubles in his first start at leadoff since 2014 with Atlanta, and Jason Heyward added four hits and 3 RBIs as the Cubs rebounded from their worst loss of the season, 13-5, on Saturday.
''La Stella stays ready,'' manager Joe Maddon said. ''He comes ready to play. We had a lot of good at-bats. It was nice that we could do this without getting Dexter or Zobrist involved. He never gets annoyed that he isn't getting playing time. He understands his role.''
Despite Saturday's loss, Chicago outscored Cincinnati 38-14 in the four-game series, which started Thursday with Jake Arrieta's no-hitter in a 16-0 win.
The Cubs have won six of seven against the Reds this season and nine of their last 10 over the last two seasons. Chicago's record over 19 games is its best since the 1969 team started 14-5. The 1907 Cubs started 16-3.
Hammel (3-0) allowed three hits with two walks, struck out a season-high seven and sparked Chicago's two-run second inning with a two-out single to right. He, Arrieta and John Lackey all are 3-0, giving the Cubs a trio of 3-0 pitchers before May 1 for the first time in franchise history.
''He controls the strike zone,'' Reds manager Bryan Price said of Hammel. ''He throws his curveball behind in the count for strikes. He's a polished, veteran, experienced pitcher.''
Rizzo, who went into the game two homers short of tying the National League lead, hit two-run shots in each of his first two at-bats, helping the Cubs lead 8-0 after three innings.
Alfredo Simon, making his first start since getting only two outs in the shortest start of his career at Chicago on April 13, pitched 2 2/3 innings. Simon (0-2), who missed his start on Tuesday with right biceps tendinitis, allowed nine hits and eight runs with one walk and three strikeouts. He actually lowered his ERA against Chicago from 67.16 to 35.14.
The Reds announced before the game that an error charged to Chicago shortstop Addison Russell in the eighth inning of Saturday's game had been changed to a hit for Cincinnati's Zack Cozart. The change lifted the Reds' hit total to 15, matching their season high.
A 2-minute, 17-second crew chief review of Rizzo's first-inning home run confirmed that the ball did leave the field of play and there was no fan interference.
RHP Tim Melville, who was designated for assignment by the Reds on Friday, cleared waivers and was outrighted on Sunday to Triple-A Louisville.
The Cubs have won their first four road series this season, their best start since winning their first six in 1995.
Cubs: With Chicago having Monday off, manager Joe Maddon considered Sunday a good day to give Fowler his second non-start of the season. Fowler was riding a six-game hitting streak and leading the NL with 17 runs scored.
Reds: RHP Anthony DeSclafani, who hasn't pitched after suffering a strained left oblique in spring training, threw 61 pitches over four innings for Double-A Pensacola on Saturday and felt great, manager Bryan Price said. DeSclafani is scheduled to pitch on Thursday for Single-A Dayton.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks, loser of his last two starts, starts the opener of Chicago's three-game home series against Milwaukee. Hendricks is 4-1 in six career starts against the Brewers, and his 1.45 ERA is his best against any team he has faced at least four times.
Reds: RHP Raisel Iglesias (1-1) makes his first career appearance against the Mets as Cincinnati opens a six-game road trip with the first of three in New York. The Reds are 3-1 in Iglesias's four starts this season.