CINCINNATI (AP) — Javier Baez hit his first grand slam of the season Saturday, and Jose Quintana went six innings for his first victory since May 5, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 6-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
The NL Central leaders are 14-14 in June. They need to win the final game of the series to avoid their first losing month since May of 2017. They’ve had 12 straight winning months in the regular season.
The benches and bullpens cleared after Pedro Strop hit Yasiel Puig in the thigh with a pitch in the eighth. Puig slammed his batting helmet to the ground and walked toward Strop while yelling and gesturing, but players intervened. Puig had taunted Cubs baserunner Albert Almora Jr. from right field during the series opener.
Reds manager David Bell was ejected by plate umpire Mark Wegner in the ninth after Dillon Maples hit Jose Paraza with a breaking pitch.
Baez, voted the NL’s starting shortstop for the All-Star Game in Cleveland, connected in the eighth off Jared Hughes to help Quintana (5-7) get his long-awaited win.
The left-hander gave the Cubs a much-needed quality start a day after their rotation took another hit. Cole Hamels left the Reds’ 6-3 opening win after only one inning because of pain in his left side. He went on the injured list Saturday. Starter Kyle Hendricks also is sidelined by a sore shoulder.
Quintana allowed six singles in six innings, snapping his nine-start drought that was longest in the NL.
Jason Heyward connected for a solo shot off Luis Castillo (7-3), the Reds’ top candidate for the All-Star Game. Castillo allowed three hits and three walks in seven innings. The Cubs hit into a pair of double plays — including with the bases loaded in the fifth — that scuttled rallies.
Chicago called up right-handed relievers Dillon Maples and Rowan Wick. Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was designated for assignment. Gonzalez signed a minor league deal on June 1 and was called up two days later. He batted .175 in 15 games.
Cubs: Hendricks threw in the bullpen without problem Saturday. He’s been sidelined since June 15. Manager Joe Maddon said there’s a chance he could be activated next week.
Reds: Left-hander Alex Wood will play catch on Sunday. He hurt his back in spring training and has had several setbacks, including earlier in the week when he threw at Triple-A.
Cubs: Left-hander Jon Lester (7-5) faces the Reds for the first time this season. He’s 7-1 in 16 career starts against Cincinnati, including 2-0 last season.
Reds: Anthony DeSclafani (4-4) faces the Cubs for the second time this season. He lasted only 3 2/3 innings of a 6-5 win at Wrigley Field on May 24, giving up four runs and three walks.