CHICAGO (AP) — Two years ago, Travis Wood was an All-Star. This year, he’s a pitcher looking to return to that form following a rough 2014 season.
“This game will always sneak up and find a way to bite ya,” Wood said. “I had that pretty much all last year. Now I just try to go with each start and take it pitch by pitch.”
That approach worked beautifully Wednesday night.
Wood pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning and Anthony Rizzo hit his first home run of the season, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 5-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
The Cubs (5-3) won two of three games in the series and moved back into first place in the National League Central.
Wood (1-1) walked two and struck out seven. It was a nice bounce-back from his first start of the season in Colorado where he yielded three runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings — and his 2014 campaign when he was 8-13 with a 5.03 ERA.
New Cubs Manager Joe Maddon didn’t see the 2014 version of Wood up close, but he likes what he sees now.
“He’s different, man,” Maddon said. “As pitchers go, you could kind of label him as a dirtbag. I kind of love that phrase when you’re talking about a good baseball player. He is that. No excuses, ready to go. ‘Give me the ball, I’m fine.’”
Cincinnati starter Jason Marquis (0-1) was in trouble from the outset, allowing five runs —four earned — on seven hits in four innings.
“He just wasn’t as sharp as he was before,” Reds Manager Bryan Price said. “He had good action on his ball, he just didn’t command it as well.”
The Cubs have had a knack for scoring late so far this season but wasted no time jumping on top in this one. Leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler began the bottom of the first with a double and trotted home as the next batter, Rizzo, homered into the right-field bleachers that are still under construction for a 2-0 lead.
The Cubs added two more in the second. Jonathan Herrera singled in a run, and the other run scored when Jorge Soler — after Rizzo was intentionally walked — was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
The Cubs stretched the lead to 5-0 in the fourth on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Miguel Montero.
REDS: Right-handed pitcher Homer Bailey (right forearm) threw a bullpen session and is expected to start Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals. ... Catcher Devin Mesoraco (left hip) remained in Cincinnati and missed his third consecutive game. ... One night after leaving because of “lightheadedness,” second baseman Brandon Phillips was in the Reds lineup.
CUBS: Right-hander Neil Ramirez left the game with an injury after throwing just three pitches in the ninth... Third baseman Mike Olt (right wrist) didn’t start. He was hit by a pitch last weekend against the Colorado Rockies.
ALL ABOUT BRYANT
Maddon said he hadn’t been given a date for the call-up of prized prospect Kris Bryant. Maddon said the decision about where Bryant would play — either third base or left field — would be his call, but “I definitely like to accumulate data.”
Cubs: Start a series Friday against the San Diego Padres. Jason Hammel (1-0, 4.50 ERA) faces San Diego’s James Shields (1-0, 2.08), who pitched for Cubs Maddon in Tampa Bay.