CHICAGO (AP) — Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price wanted no part of this record.
Tim Adleman spoiled a terrific outing by giving up two of Chicago’s three home runs, and the Reds lost 5-2 to the Cubs on Monday night in the opener of a 10-game road trip.
Addison Russell and Willson Contreras homered during Chicago’s three-run seventh inning, and Jason Heyward added a two-run drive in the eighth. Heyward’s seventh of the year was the 242nd homer allowed by Cincinnati, breaking the major league record of 241 belonging to the 1996 Detroit Tigers.
“We just have to be better in commanding the zone,” said Price, a former pitching coach with the Reds, Diamondbacks and Mariners. “And I make it sound simple; it’s not. We certainly have to improve the quality of the talent. We’ve got to be able to get guys that can get the ball on the ground more often than we have this year. We have a lot of fly-ball pitchers and it hasn’t worked.”
Adleman was working on a shutout before the two solo shots tied it at 2. The rookie right-hander allowed five hits, struck out five and walked none in a career-high 6 1/3 innings.
“I’m really proud with innings one through six,” Adleman said. “I wanted to give the team a chance to win.”
Jason Hammel (15-9) pitched seven solid innings for Chicago, and Dexter Fowler hit a tiebreaking single off Blake Wood (6-4) with two outs in the seventh.
Hammel’s performance gave the franchise four pitchers with at least 15 wins for the first time since 1935. It looks as if Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta are playoff-rotation locks for the NL Central champions and John Lackey has the pole position for the fourth spot, leaving Hammel in limbo as the season winds down.
“We’ve got a good collective group here and their decisions are going to be really hard,” Hammel said, “so we’re just going to continue to do what we do, individually do our work and show up and play and then they’ll put the best team out there whenever it is.”
Brandon Phillips homered for last-place Cincinnati (63-87), which has lost five of six. Joey Votto went 2 for 3 with an RBI single and a walk, increasing his batting average since the All-Star break to .416.
“He’s very motivated to play the game at the highest level possible regardless of our win-and-loss record,” Price said. “And he also wants to be here to turn this thing around and he has been setting the example of how to work and how to be a professional.”
Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his 15th save with the Cubs and 35th on the year. It was Chapman’s first career appearance against Cincinnati, which traded the hard-throwing closer to the New York Yankees last December.
GETTING A CHANCE
Reds right-hander Josh Smith will make his first start of the season Tuesday. Price said the game would have a “bullpen flavor” to it.
The Reds need a starter after playing a doubleheader Saturday.
“It’s a good opportunity,” said Smith, who threw 62 pitches Saturday. “I enjoy starting. It’s what I was used to until this year.”
PACKING THEM IN
The paid attendance of 39,251 ran the Cubs’ season total to 3,028,965 with five home games left in the regular season. It’s the franchise’s first time drawing more than 3 million since 2011, and the ninth time at Wrigley Field overall.
Reds: RHP Homer Bailey (biceps) is scheduled for another bullpen session Wednesday. “It’s still possible that he’ll make a start or two before the year is out,” Price said. … A day after saying CF Billy Hamilton (oblique) was “improbable” to return this season, Price put SS Zack Cozart (knee) in the same category. “We’re certainly not going to rush him through the rehab process,” Price said.
Smith (3-1, 4.97 ERA) will be opposed by Cubs LHP Jon Lester (17-4, 2.40), who is 8-0 with a 1.47 ERA in his last 11 starts.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap