CHICAGO (AP) — Ian Happ hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning, Jorge De La Rosa worked a shaky ninth for his first career save and the Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 on Friday night.
De La Rosa surrendered a one-out double to Curt Casali and walked Billy Hamilton with two down before Scott Schebler flied out to center. It was the first save opportunity for Chicago since Pedro Strop strained his left hamstring trying to beat out a double-play grounder during Thursday’s 4-3 victory at Washington, shelving the key reliever for the rest of the regular season.
Strop had been subbing for injured closer Brandon Morrow, who is on the disabled list with a right arm injury.
Ben Zobrist had three hits for NL Central-leading Chicago, which entered with a 1 1/2-game advantage over second-place Milwaukee. After Cole Hamels allowed two runs over 6 2/3 innings, Dillon Maples (1-0) got the final out of the seventh for his first career win.
Cincinnati had won four of six, including two of three against the contending Los Angeles Dodgers. The last-place Reds wasted a terrific start by Matt Harvey, who struck out six in six scoreless innings.
Cincinnati jumped in front on consecutive homers by Jose Peraza and Joey Votto in the fourth, but Chicago rallied after Harvey was replaced by David Hernandez (5-1).
Victor Caratini led off the seventh with a single and David Bote reached on an error on third baseman Eugenio Suarez. After pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella hit into a forceout, Happ drove a 1-0 pitch into the bleachers in left-center for just his second homer in 22 games.
Hamels struck out seven to increase his career total to 2,396, matching Sandy Koufax for 48th on the all-time list. He is 4-0 in nine starts since he was acquired in a trade with Texas.
Strop had 11 saves in 13 opportunities since Morrow went on the DL in July. He is 6-1 with a 2.26 ERA over 59 2/3 innings in 60 appearances.
Unless the Cubs can make a trade, manager Joe Maddon said he envisions using a closer-by-committee approach, including veterans Steve Cishek, Justin Wilson and Jesse Chavez.
Reds: RHP Lucas Sims is sidelined with a strain on his right side. “He’s got little something going on with his lat that he’s not available to pitch right now,” manager Jim Riggleman said.
Cubs: Morrow (right biceps inflammation) is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Saturday. ... Manager Joe Maddon said OF Jason Heyward (right hamstring tightness) might return next week.
Reds LHP Cody Reed (0-2, 5.08 ERA) faces Cubs ace Jon Lester (15-6, 3.57 ERA) on Saturday. Lester lost his last start on Monday to Milwaukee, exiting after 5 2/3 innings with lower back tightness.