CHICAGO – David Bote had no idea if the ball was going out until he saw the signal from the third-base umpire as he sprinted toward second.
No small feat on a blustery day like this.
Bote homered, Adbert Alzolay combined with three relievers on the Chicago's first shutout and the surging Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 1-0 on Friday.
Bote's line drive toward the left-field corner leading off the fifth cleared the wall, spoiling Reds starter Vladimir Gutiérrez's major league debut, and helped the Cubs win for the 10th time in 12 games even though they managed just three hits.
“I knew I got it good,” Bote said. "And then I was like, ‘Oh man, I got to run.’ ... With a day like today, you hit the ball hard, you just start running because you're just trying to get as many extra bases as you can. It's gonna be tough to get three hits in a row there with the wind blowing in like that.”
Alzolay (3-4) escaped with two runners on in each of the first three innings on a chilly, soggy and windy afternoon. He threw 103 pitches before getting pulled with two out in the sixth. The right-hander gave up five hits, struck out six and walked three after issuing none in his previous three starts.
Overall, he said, it was a “huge step forward" in his development.
“I got in some jams there," he said. "I was able to keep pitching, execute my pitches and just keep competing."
Alzolay exited with runners on first and second Max Schrock doubled with two out and Jonathan India walked. Andrew Chafin struck out pinch-hitter Eugenio Suárez to end that threat and dodged a first-and-second jam in the seventh when Tyler Stephenson grounded into a double play.
Tommy Nance retired all three batters in the eighth. Craig Kimbrel worked a perfect ninth on his 33rd birthday for his 12th save in 14 chances, and the Cubs improved to 17-7 in May.
Nick Castellanos singled twice, extending the majors’ longest active hitting streak to 14 games. But the Reds were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 in losing for the eighth time in 11 games.
Gutiérrez (0-1) went five innings, allowing one run and two hits. He struck out three and walked two.
The 25-year-old Cuban received an 80-game suspension last June after testing positive for Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance. But he got his chance on Friday because Cincinnati had an opening in the rotation with Wade Miley sidelined by a sprained left foot.
“I was starting to get messages from friends and family,” Gutiérrez said through an interpreter. “They were really supporting me. Those messages really just brought me to think, wow, I did a really good job. I didn't really know if I were to cry or just smile and laugh at the messages. I was really happy with my performance today.”
The Cubs caught a major break with Cincinnati batting in the third.
The Reds had a runner on first and two out when Tucker Barnhart ripped a ground-rule double down the right-field line that almost certainly would have been a homer if not for the wind. The ball took a high bounce over the wall, saving a run. Alzolay then retired Kyle Farmer on a fly to shallow right.
The Reds recalled Gutiérrez from Triple-A Louisville and optioned right-hander Ashton Goudeau to the minor league club. They also added righty Art Warren to the taxi squad.
Reds: LHP Miley had his return from the IL pushed back a day because of cold symptoms and will start Monday against Philadelphia, manager David Bell said. RHP Tyler Mahle is scheduled to pitch Sunday.
Cubs: 1B Anthony Rizzo (lower-back tightness) was out of the lineup for the third consecutive game. ... OF Jason Heyward (strained left hamstring) and OF Jake Marisnick (strained right hamstring) did some running before the game. Manager David Ross wasn't sure if they will go on a rehab assignment before returning from the injured list.
Cubs RHP Zach Davies (2-2, 4.96 ERA) looks to close out a strong month on a winning note, while the Reds go with struggling RHP Luis Castillo (1-7, 7.61). Davies has a 1.71 ERA in five starts in May. Castillo is tied for the major league lead in losses and is tops in earned runs with 40.
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