CHICAGO (AP) — Nick Senzel showed why he is considered one of baseball’s top prospects.
If the rookie can provide a consistent presence at the top of Cincinnati’s lineup, he could give the last-place Reds a big lift.
Senzel had three hits, scored four times and cut down a runner at the plate, helping Tanner Roark and Cincinnati beat the Chicago Cubs 10-2 on Sunday.
“It makes a difference, especially with what he can do when he’s on base,” manager David Bell said.
Led by Senzel, the top third of Cincinnati’s lineup collected seven of the Reds’ season-high 17 hits. Joey Votto singled twice in his third consecutive multihit game, and Eugenio Suárez finished with two hits and three RBIs.
“I was not really good the last couple of days, the first two games of the series and the last game in Milwaukee,” Senzel said. “I wasn’t seeing it very well and I wasn’t doing my job as a leadoff man. I just tried to simplify the game — get on base and let them score me.”
The Reds also got five scoreless innings from Roark (4-3) in the rubber game of their weekend set against the NL Central leaders. Cincinnati lost 14 of its previous 19 series against Chicago.
The Cubs were hurt by a shaky performance by José Quintana (4-4), and their dreary afternoon got even worse when Kris Bryant departed with an injury after colliding with center fielder Jason Heyward in the sixth inning.
“He’s doing OK. He’s still under evaluation,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We don’t know exactly what we’re doing with this whole thing yet. But we’re trying to talk with the docs and find out exactly where we’re at.”
With two outs and Senzel on first, Heyward and Bryant converged on Suárez’s fly ball toward the gap in right-center. It looked as if Heyward and Bryant both called for it before running into each other , and the ball went off Heyward’s glove.
Bryant, a natural third baseman who occasionally plays the outfield, stayed down as Senzel scored and Suárez hustled into third. Maddon and a trainer ran out to take a look, and the 2016 NL MVP gingerly walked off the field after a short conversation.
Maddon said he hadn’t watched the replay, but he was told Bryant was hit in the head/neck area. Bryant was cleared to fly with the team to Houston for the start of its six-game road trip.
“We both were going hard to make a play and we ran into each other,” Heyward said.
Senzel singled and scored in the first and third innings. He was nearly picked off in the third, but second baseman Daniel Descalso dropped a throw during the rundown. The rookie was shaken up when he collided with David Bote as he got into second, but he stayed in and scampered home on Suárez’s sacrifice fly.
The Cubs strung together three consecutive singles with two out in the bottom half of the third, but Senzel threw out Anthony Rizzo when he attempted to score from second on Willson Contreras’ liner to center.
Contreras and Javier Báez homered for Chicago. But it wasn’t nearly enough on a tough day for Quintana, who allowed five earned runs and a career-high 12 hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Backup catcher Victor Caratini worked the ninth for the Cubs and surrendered Curt Casali’s first homer of the season, a two-run drive to left.
HOME STATE FUN
Roark allowed six hits, struck out nine and walked one while improving to 5-1 in seven career appearances at Wrigley Field. The right-hander is from Wilmington, Illinois, about 60 miles south of Chicago, and played college ball at the University of Illinois.
“I love pitching here,” Roark said. “The atmosphere is always phenomenal, there’s always a sellout and there’s family and friends all over.”
Reds: 2B Scooter Gennett (right groin) is taking ground balls and swinging the bat. Bell said there is no timetable for his return, but thought it might be two to three weeks before he starts playing in rehab games. “I think it’s one of those injuries where when he’s good to go, it might be best to take one more week just to be sure,” Bell said.
Reds: RHPs Luis Castillo (5-1, 2.38 ERA) and Sonny Gray (1-4, 3.78 ERA) start Monday in a day-night doubleheader at home against Pittsburgh. Gray is coming off his first win with Cincinnati, pitching six effective innings in a 3-0 victory at Milwaukee.
Cubs: LHP Cole Hamels (4-0, 3.38 ERA) faces Astros RHP Gerrit Cole (4-5, 4.11 ERA) on Monday in the opener of a three-game series at Houston. Hamels pitched a season-low four innings in Wednesday night’s 8-4 victory over Philadelphia.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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