CHICAGO (AP) — Ian Happ connected with a 98-mph fastball. And with one big swing, the Cubs were on their way.
Happ hit a three-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning, and Chicago won for the 14th time in 17 games, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 on Friday.
With a second straight NL Central title in hand and their sights set on another World Series championship, the Cubs held sluggers Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant out of the lineup. They also watched as Jose Quintana got knocked out in a four-run fifth. But they still found a way to pull it out.
Trailing 4-2 in the eighth, Tommy La Stella started the rally with a one-out single against Amir Garrett. Taylor Davis then singled to third off Michael Lorenzen (8-4). After Kyle Schwarber struck out, the switch-hitting Happ went the other way against the right-handed Lorenzen and drove a 1-1 pitch to left-center for his 24th homer.
“Home runs at Wrigley definitely never get old,” he said.
Happ’s latest drew a curtain call from the crowd. It was just the latest big hit for the rookie since he was called up in May. He also started at his fifth different defensive position, getting the call at third base for the first time with Bryant not playing.
“He’s so deceptively strong,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He hits the ball, it’s really loud. … He does a lot of good baseball things.”
Brian Duensing (1-1) pitched a scoreless eighth. Justin Grimm worked the ninth for his first save in three chances.
Cincinnati’s Joey Votto had two hits and an RBI, giving him 100 this season. He also reached base in his 30th straight game.
Robert Stephenson gave up two runs — one earned — and four hits in five innings. The Reds lost for the ninth time in 10 games, and they didn’t have much to say afterward.
“I need to become a better pitcher,” said Lorenzen, who otherwise gave one-word answers.
Manager Bryan Price mentioned the wind knocking down some balls — except Happ’s homer.
“Truth be told, I don’t have really a whole lot else to say today,” he said. “It just was a tough loss. We’ve got some things we’ve got to work on between now and spring training, but I’m not going to get into the specifics at this point. I’m just tired of watching us lose games that are there to win.”
Quintana gave up four runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Coming off his second career shutout, a three-hitter against Milwaukee, the left-hander was sailing along with a 2-0 lead when he ran into trouble in the fifth.
With runners on first and third, he gave up back-to-back RBI singles to Scott Schebler and Tucker Barnhart. After Stephenson bunted into a double play, Phillip Ervin chased Quintana with an RBI single to left.
Felix Pena then walked Zack Cozart before Votto lined an RBI single off the glove of leaping second baseman La Stella, making it 4-2.
IN THE BASKET
Reds RF Scott Schebler saved a run in the fifth. With a man on second and two out, he raced to the corner and made an over-the-shoulder basket catch to rob La Stella.
Cubs reliever Hector Rondon picked up his first career hit when he beat out a dribbler in front of the plate in the seventh.
Reds: Cozart was back in the lineup after missing a game because of right quadriceps tightness.
Cubs: RHP Jake Arrieta will miss his final regular-season start to rest before the playoffs. The Cubs will send Mike Montgomery to the mound instead of the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner on Sunday. Arrieta strained his right hamstring on Sept. 4 and didn’t pitch again until Sept. 21.
Cubs LHP Jon Lester (12-8, 4.46 ERA) makes his final regular season start, while RHP Jackson Stephens (2-0, 3.86) goes for Cincinnati. Lester has a 4.94 ERA in five September starts after posting a 7.85 ERA over four outings in August.