CINCINNATI (AP) — Trevor Bauer made quite a first impression in his new ballpark. The Reds are looking for a lot more in their final push to get back into the race.
Bauer fanned 11 batters in his Reds home debut Friday night, and Aristides Aquino homered again as Yasiel Puig’s replacement, leading Cincinnati to a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
Stuck on the outer edge of the NL Central race all season, the Reds made a deal to shake things up last week, sending Puig — their hottest hitter at midseason — to Cleveland for Bauer as part of a three-team trade. The deal worked out both ways in Bauer’s first start with the Reds in front of 31,569 fans at Great American Ball Park.
“It’s a great sign,” manager David Bell said. “You saw what he’s capable of doing. That was a big start for our team.”
Bauer (10-8) struggled in his first start with the Reds, trying too hard during a 5-4 loss in Atlanta. On the mound at hitter-friendly Great American, he kept a hot Cubs offense in check, allowing three hits in seven innings, including Nicholas Castellanos’ third homer of the series.
“It’s nice to be able to get back on track,” said Bauer, who threw 106 pitches. “That was a really good time.”
No surprise that Bauer dominated Chicago. He has won each of his four career starts against the Cubs, allowing a total of two runs in 26 2/3 innings.
“He’s got World Series experience,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s got really good stuff. And he got better — he smelled it at the end there. The last two innings were probably his best innings. Early on he made some mistakes, but we just didn’t get him.”
Chicago was coming off a 12-5 win in the series opener that featured a season-high 19 hits. Bauer escaped two-on threats in the fourth and sixth innings, fanning Ian Happ on a 96 mph fastball to finish off the sixth.
It was Bauer’s seventh game of the season with double-digit strikeouts. His season high is 12 against the Royals on June 26.
Aquino, an International League All-Star, was called up to play right field when Puig was traded. He hit a two-run homer off Yu Darvish (4-6), his fourth in eight games with Cincinnati. The last player with such a power surge in their Reds introduction was Corey Patterson, who also had four homers in 2008.
Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto had solo shots off Darvish, who allowed four hits, struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter in six innings. Darvish allowed three homers only one other time this season, against the Reds at Wrigley Field on May 25.
The Cubs loaded the bases in the eighth off Michael Lorenzen. Amir Garrett hit Anthony Rizzo to force in a run before escaping the threat. Raisel Iglesias pitched the ninth for his 23rd save in 26 chances.
The win moved the fourth-place Reds to seven games behind the Cubs with two left in their final series at Great American this season.
“Last night was a bummer, no doubt about it,” catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “Tonight was a had-to-have game.”
LOTS OF CANDLES
Chicago outfielder Jason Heyward celebrated his 30th birthday, a day after Rizzo had his 30th. Heyward doubled, walked, was hit on the left foot by a pitch, and went 0 for 2.
Castellanos has hit safely in all nine games with the Cubs, who got him in a deal with Detroit. The last player to hit safely in his first nine games with the Cubs was Bryan LaHair in 2011.
Darvish has walked two or fewer batters in 11 straight games, a career high. He hasn’t allowed a walk in his last three starts spanning 17 innings.
Cubs: Left-handed reliever Kyle Ryan went on the bereavement list. Right-hander Alec Mills was recalled from Triple-A Iowa.
Reds: Reliever David Hernandez was designated for assignment, a day after he gave up five runs. Sal Romano was recalled from Triple-A Louisville. … Reliever Jared Hughes served the second of his three-game suspension for his role in a brawl with the Pirates last week.
Cubs: Kyle Hendricks (8-8) has allowed two or fewer runs in seven straight starts. He’s 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in three starts against the Reds this season
Reds: Sonny Gray (5-6) is 3-1 with a 1.97 ERA in his last seven starts, which include three blown saves.