The Associated PressCHICAGO (AP) — The Cubs are starting to show the pop that helped propel them to their first championship in 108 years.
For that, manager Joe Maddon credited their starting pitching.
Javier Baez hit a grand slam, Kris Bryant homered and the Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 9-5 Thursday to complete a three-game sweep.
“Starting pitching drives the engine,” Maddon said. “I will never be deceived by that thought. While that’s happening, you have a chance to hit better just by keeping the other team down. Guys get a chance to get in the flow and do their thing.”
Chicago outscored Cincinnati 25-15 in the series after struggling at the plate for much of this season. The Cubs have 23 wins in their last 28 games against the Reds.
Baez came through with three hits and a season-high five RBIs. He got the rout going when he capped a five-run first inning against Amir Garrett (3-3) with his third career slam .
Bryant hit his eighth homer this season in the fourth, a long solo drive to center, and the Cubs scored three in the fifth to take a 9-0 lead.
Cincinnati has lost six straight, its longest skid since dropping 11 in a row last May.
Chicago’s Koji Uehara got his first save this season after he entered with the bases loaded and no outs in the ninth. He retired Adam Duvall on a sacrifice fly, then struck out Eugenio Suarez and Stuart Turner, both on three pitches.
Stroman does it all for Jays
ATLANTA (AP) — Marcus Stroman threw 5⅔ strong innings and hit the second homer by a pitcher in Blue Jays history to lead Toronto over Julio Teheran and the Atlanta Braves 9-0 on Thursday night.
Darrell Ceciliani, recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday, had a run-scoring double in the first and a two-run homer in the third before leaving with a left shoulder injury. Ceciliani started in center field after Kevin Pillar was suspended two games without pay for yelling an anti-gay slur at Braves reliever Jason Motte during Wednesday’s game.
Teheran hit Jose Bautista with a pitch in the first inning, a day after Bautista’s bat flip following a home run drew criticism from the Braves. Teheran (3-4) allowed a career-high nine runs in three-plus innings.