CINCINNATI — Kyle Schwarber hit a three-run homer in the ballpark near his home, Tommy La Stella added a two-run shot while subbing for Kris Bryant, and the Chicago Cubs kept their second-half surge going with a 9-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night.
The defending World Series champions have won eight of 10. They have their biggest lead in the NL Central, 3 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee.
Left-hander Mike Montgomery (4-6) allowed four hits in six shutout innings, filling in for Jon Lester in the rotation. Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler homered in the ninth for the Reds.
The Cubs didn’t need a homer during their 13-9 victory in the series opener on Tuesday. Schwarber provided an opposite-field shot in the fourth inning off Asher Wojciechowski (3-3), his ninth since he returned from a stint in the minors.
Bryant, the National League’s MVP, sat out a day after getting hit on the side of the left hand by a pitch. He was much better and isn’t expected to miss much time. La Stella took his place at third base and had a two-run homer.
Anthony Rizzo was back at his usual spot — first base instead of third, where he spent an uneventful inning on Tuesday night. He doubled and scored twice as the Cubs quickly got ahead 9-0.
Reds change bullpen
Cincinnati overhauled its overworked bullpen, calling up RHP Luke Farrell and RHP Alejandro Chacin from Triple-A Louisville. OF Phillip Ervin was optioned to Louisville, and RHP Blake Wood was designated for assignment. Wood gave up five runs on Tuesday night. Chacin gave up the homer by La Stella, the first batter he faced in the majors.
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester threw in the outfield pregame and felt good. Manager Joe Maddon said he will throw in the bullpen on Friday and if that goes well, he’ll throw to some Cubs hitters and then could be activated. He’s been on the DL since Aug. 18 with tightness in his back.
Reds: RHP Homer Bailey took batting practice without a problem a day after he lasted only three innings because of irritation behind his pitching shoulder.
Cubs: Jake Arrieta (13-8) has made seven straight quality starts, allowing two or fewer earned runs each game. He’s gone 5-1 with a 2.00 ERA during that stretch. He allowed one hit in seven scoreless innings on July 2 at Great American Ball Park during a 6-2 win.
Reds: Sal Romano (3-5) makes his eighth start since joining the rotation after the All-Star break. He’s never faced the Cubs.