CINCINNATI – Two homers, a deft dive to score another run, and a couple smooth-as-ever defensive plays. Vintage Javier Báez, in time to keep the Cubs' surge going.
The sensational shortstop led the way offensively Tuesday night and Alec Mills went six solid innings for an 8-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds that fit Chicago's early pattern.
Chicago has won four of its first five games, scoring first in each one. Jason Kipnis' triple — Shogo Akiyama lost it in the sun — sparked the offense. Báez took it from there, emerging from a slow start that included only a pair of singles in the first four games.
“When Javy plays well, it’s infectious for the team,” manager David Ross said. “Javy makes so many things happen.”
Mills (1-0) added to Chicago's stretch of impressive starts. Mills, who made four spot starts last season, held the Reds to two hits in six innings. Chicago's starters have a 1.80 ERA and a .131 opponent batting average this season.
Báez had a hand in that too, making a couple of hit-stealing plays behind Mills.
“Oh my goodness,” Mills said. “You turn around and seeing that is comforting, seeing him there. He makes everything look easy.”
The Reds got two-run homers by Nick Castellanos — his first since signing a $64 million deal — and Freddy Galvis but fell to 1-4, tied for the worst start in the majors.