Anthony Rizzo belted a two-run homer, his first of the season, in the first inning to back Travis Wood and lead the Cubs to a 5-0 victory Wednesday over the Reds and take the series.
Wood gave up three hits over seven-plus innings, retiring the first 10 batters faced before he walked Joey Votto with one out in the fourth. The Cubs now have won two of their first three series; they did not win their first series last year until May 2-4.
"It was a tough combination -- we were down early and Woody was on," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "That was as well as I've seen him, those first seven innings, since 2010, when he had a real nice year for us in Cincinnati."More >
Rizzo, who led Chicago last season with 32 home runs, connected off former Cubs pitcher Jason Marquis, who served up five runs (four earned) over four innings. With the loss, the Reds have dropped back-to-back series.
"Any time we can give our guys a lead in the first and let them go out and pound the strike zone, it's good," Rizzo said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Taking one for the team :Jorge Soler picked up his team-leading seventh RBI when he was hit on the left shoulder by a pitch from Marquis with the bases loaded in the second. The Cubs' rookie now has 27 RBIs in his first 31 career games. The only glitch Wednesday was the 45-degree cold, which prompted Soler to wear a balaclava over his head and face.
More hits for Phillips:Brandon Phillips, who left Tuesday's game feeling light-headed, was the first Red to notch a hit against Wood following Votto's walk in the fourth inning. Since moving to the cleanup spot with Devin Mesoraco out, Phillips has a four-game hitting streak following a 2-for-17 start to the season. He had another single in the ninth inning and all 11 of his hits this season have been singles.
QUOTABLE "You could sense it in Spring Training. It's a good group of guys, and very relaxed and very hungry at the same time. We need to feel this and keep feeling it and get everyone rallying behind us." -- Rizzo, on the different vibe in the clubhouse this year
"We're still above .500. It's a long road trip. We'll take one day at a time, attack each game with the same intensity, I think good things will happen. It's still early in the year and we're still finding our way. No excuses. I think we'll be fine. We have a good enough team to weather the storm, make adjustments and play some good baseball." -- Marquis, on the Reds' 5-4 record More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Arismendy Alcantara struck out in the third, and he has fanned at least once in each of the Cubs' eight games. That's the longest such streak for a Cubs position player to open a season since 2010 (Aramis Ramirez: 10).
The Cubs have homered in five straight games, the first time since an 11-game stretch, Aug. 16-27, last season.
Wood has given up seven hits over 19 scoreless innings in his last three starts against the Reds, including two at the end of last season.
INJURY UPDATE Cubs right-hander Neil Ramirez had to leave the game in the ninth after throwing three pitches, all balls, to leadoff man Votto. Manager Joe Maddon said Ramirez had right shoulder discomfort and would be re-examined on Thursday. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Reds: Following Thursday's off-day, the road trip resumes play on Friday with the start of a three-game series vs. the Cardinals. Ace Johnny Cueto will start the 8:15 p.m. ET opener against Michael Wacha. Cueto has not fared well historically at Busch Stadium, with a 5.80 ERA in nine career starts. If catcher Devin Mesoraco is ready, he could return after missing the Cubs' series with a sore left hip.
Cubs: After an off-day Thursday, the Cubs play host to the Padres for a three-game series at Wrigley Field. Jason Hammel starts Friday. The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.35 ERA in seven career starts at Wrigley. The bigger question is who will start at third base. Mike Olt has been bothered by a sore right wrist after he was hit by a pitch on Saturday. The Cubs other option is top prospect Kris Bryant, who was swinging a hot bat at Triple-A Iowa. First pitch will be 1:20 p.m. CT.