Reds give Axelrod enough runs to beat Cubs, 7-2

CINCINNATI - Dylan Axelrod pitched five scoreless innings and the Reds swiped six bases - their highest total in eight years -  in a 7-2 victory over the Cubs Thursday afternoon.

Axelrod (1-0), recalled from Triple-A Louisville to make his second start as a Red, struck out eight while giving up two hits and three walks.

Billy Hamilton, Brandon Phillips and Todd Frazier knocked in two runs apiece.

Hamiilton went 2-for-2 with a double, walked twice, scored two runs and got his 51st stolen base.


Zack Cozart and Todd Frazier each stole twice, and Kristopher Negron added one more.

The Reds stole six times in the first four innings, using six hits and four walks to build a 6-0 lead against Jake Arrieta (7-5).

All six steals came at second base, with John Baker catching Arrieta.

"We knew it would be hard to score on Arrieta," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We wanted to create some opportunities by being aggressive. We did a good job, all the way through, not just the first time through the lineup."

Axelrod, 28, was one inning shy of his second quality start. He got a no-decision in a 10-5 loss at Colorado on Aug. 17 when he allowed two earned runs on seven hits in six innings - with seven strikeouts.

"He had roughly 60 pitches in the first three innings," Price said. "It looked like he would only make it through three but he made an in-game adjustment and made it through five."

"They took some tough two-strike pitches in the first two innings," Axelrod said. "I decided to attack with my fastball. The three-run lead made it easier."

Axelrod was taking injured Homer Bailey's spot in the starting rotation. Axelrod  had been sent down after the water main break in Denver caused a doubleheader that taxed the Reds' bullpen and forced a call-up of relievers.

"It made sense," Axelrod said of that move.

Cozart had three hits, including a double, and scored three times.

"I've been feeling better the last three weeks, but I haven't always gotten the results," Cozart said. "Now it's starting to show."

The steals were fun, he said.

"We've been aggressive all year and not just with Billy. It makes it fun and creates opportunities when we run."

Arrieta felt he could have done a better job against the Reds' running game.

"I was bad at holding the runners. That's my fault," Arrieta said. "I wasn't giving Baker an opportunity to throw them out. That sets up the hits."

Reds relievers Pedro Villareal and Logan Ondrusek combined for three perfect innings. The Cubs scored two runs off Jumbo Diaz in the ninth.

Jay Bruce struck out five times in five at-bats and became the first Red with 5 K's in a game since Adam Dunn in 2002. Bruce is the seventh Reds player to strike out five times in a game.

It was the fourth win in five games for the Reds (65-69).


Cubs: 1B Anthony Rizzo was out of the lineup for the second straight day with tightness in his lower back. Manager Rick Renteria hopes to have him back for the upcoming series in St. Louis.

Reds: Bailey (right elbow) and 1B Joey Votto (left knee) are progressing at a slow rate. The Reds plan to call up seven to nine players on Monday when rosters expand to 40, according to manager Bryan Price.


Cubs: Kyle Hendricks (5-1) will open the four-game series in St. Louis on Friday. He had a rain-shortened, two-inning start Aug. 23 against Baltimore.

Reds: Mike Leake (10-11) will begin the opener of a three-game series in Pittsburgh on Friday. Leake is 5-0 in 11 starts against Pittsburgh since a 3-2 loss on May 5, 2012.


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