CHICAGO (AP) — Alec Mills watches Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks pitch, and he wants to help carry the load for Chicago’s rotation.
He certainly did his part Tuesday night.
Mills pitched six sharp innings and David Bote drove in two runs, leading the Cubs to a 3-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
Taking the mound on a wet, windy and cool night at Wrigley Field, Mills (4-3) permitted four hits, struck out six and walked three in his first win since Aug. 24. The right-hander went 1-3 with a 7.66 ERA in his previous five starts for the NL Central leaders.
“Really just made pitches when I needed them I think was the big thing,” he said. “Hadn’t been doing that lately.”
Darvish is one of the front-runners for the NL Cy Young Award and Hendricks pitched eight effective innings in a 5-1 victory over St. Louis on Monday. But the rest of the rotation has been plagued by injuries and poor performance.
“I think we’re struggling a little bit as a rotation outside of those two guys,” Mills said. “But at the same time, we know how to pitch. We know how to get outs. I think it’s going to turn around.”
Duane Underwood Jr. and Ryan Tepera each got three outs before Jeremy Jeffress finished the five-hitter for his sixth save.
Shogo Akiyama reached three times on two hits and a walk, but the fourth-place Reds lost for the third time in four games. They wasted another strong outing by Tyler Mahle (1-2), who struck out 10 in seven innings.
“I’m disappointed any time I lose whether I pitched well or pitch poorly,” Mahle said. “I mean, those runs could have been avoided. I made some really bad pitches.”
Chicago scored each of its runs on two-out triples by Bote in the second and Javier Báez in the third. Bote’s first triple since Sept. 27, 2018, against Pittsburgh drove in Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras. Kris Bryant scored from first on Báez’s hit.
“Three runs, all with two outs. … When we do that, we seem to kind of roll,” manager David Ross said.
Playing at Wrigley for the first time since he finished last season with the Cubs, Nick Castellanos had a rough day. He had trouble tracking down each of the run-scoring triples in right field. He also went 0 for 4 at the plate, striking out swinging on three pitches with two runners on in the fifth.
It looked as if Castellanos broke in on Bote’s ball before it sailed over his head.
“Just a really tough play,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Just a really hard-hit ball hit right at him. I mean, you make one wrong reaction and before you know it the ball’s over your head. That’s what happened on that play.”
Castellanos hit .321 with 16 homers and 36 RBIs in 51 games with the Cubs last year after he was acquired in a deadline trade with Detroit. He then signed a $64 million, four-year deal with the Reds in free agency.
Reds: C Tyler Stephenson and RHP José De León were brought up from the team’s alternate training site. RHP Nate Jones was placed on the three-day paternity list, and INF Matt Davidson was designated for assignment.
Cubs: OF Billy Hamilton was added to Chicago’s active roster and INF/OF José Martínez was optioned to the club’s alternate training site. Hamilton came in to play center before Cincinnati batted in the seventh.
Reds: CF Nick Senzel could return as soon as this weekend, according to president of baseball operations Dick Williams. He was placed on the injured list on Aug. 19 for an unspecified reason.
Cubs: RF Jason Heyward was out of the starting lineup for the second straight day. Heyward left Sunday night’s 7-3 loss to St. Louis because he was feeling lightheaded and having difficulty breathing. Ross said he has passed each of his medical tests and could play Wednesday. … LHP José Quintana (left lat inflammation) and RHP Tyler Chatwood (strained right forearm) each played catch before the game. … LHP Andrew Chafin (left finger sprain) threw off a mound Monday and “looked really good,” Ross said.
Darvish (7-1, 1.44 ERA) goes for his eighth straight win Wednesday. He has a sparkling 0.98 ERA during his win streak. Trevor Bauer (3-3, 2.05 ERA) pitches for Cincinnati. The right-hander was terrific at the beginning of the season, but he is 0-3 with a 4.08 ERA in his last three starts.
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