CINCINNATI (AP) — After a sputtering start, the Cubs' offense is finally rolling. And it's no surprise that they're breaking out at Great American Ball Park, a place that's just their style.
Wilson Contreras hit his first career grand slam and Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward added three-run shots on Saturday, powering Chicago to a 12-8 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
Jake Arrieta (3-0) returned to the mound where he threw his second career no-hitter last April 21 and struggled mightily at the outset, giving up two homers in the first inning. Chicago's offense pulled him through with another homer-filled game at Great American Ball Park. Arrieta helped with an RBI triple.
"We've been making the most of them the last few games," Heyward said of the big hits.
The Cubs have won 20 of their last 24 games against the Reds, including 17 of 21 at Great American. The Cubs have homered in each of their last 14 games in Cincinnati, which suits their power-laden lineup.
"We've had some hiccups, but we've been picked up by our offense," said Arrieta, who gave up five runs in six innings. "As starting pitchers, we have to take advantage of our offense."
In the series opener, Rizzo's three-run homer tied it with two outs in the ninth and set up a 6-5 win in 11 innings. He connected in the first inning on Saturday against left-hander Cody Reed (1-1), who was moved into the Reds' injury-depleted rotation. Contreras hit his grand slam in the second, which was Reed's final inning.
"We score, what, nine runs and we lose? That's tough," Reed said.
Heyward's second homer in two days made it 11-5 in the sixth. The Cubs hit 42 homers against Cincinnati last season, the most by any Reds' opponent in their history. Chicago has six homers in the first two games of the series.
Arrieta was pitching on six days' rest. He needed 53 pitches to get through the first two innings. Joey Votto hit a three-run homer in the first — he drove in five runs overall — and Eugenio Suarez followed with a solo shot.
"I feel like I did my job after that first inning or so," said Arrieta, who struck out eight and didn't walk a batter. "After that, you want to protect the lead and get as deep into the game as you can."
Arrieta knocked in a run with his fourth career triple , a drive to right field that Scooter Gennett misplayed and missed as he tried to make a diving catch on the warning track.
Cubs: Ben Zobrist was held out for a second straight game because of a stiff back. Manager Joe Maddon expects him to be available on Sunday.
Reds: Manager Bryan Price said RH Rookie Davis could return from the DL and start on Wednesday at Milwaukee. Davis is recovering from a bruised forearm.
INF Tommy La Stella was activated off the bereavement list and optioned to Triple-A Iowa.
WALK THIS WAY
The Cubs drew a season-high eight walks. They've drawn at least three walks in 16 straight games, their longest streak in a single season since they did it in 17 straight games in August 1975.
Rizzo has hit safely in his last 11 games. ... The Cubs' 12 runs were a season high. ... Arietta has won his last 10 decisions in April, going 10-0 in 11 starts. ... Chicago's battery hit for the cycle: Contreras had a single, double and homer, while Arrieta provided the triple. ... Suarez also had a solo homer in the eighth for the second multihomer game of his career.
PAAAAAAAACE OF THE GAME
The first two innings took an hour and 4 minutes and featured 122 pitches, 12 runs and three homers. In his two innings, Reed walked five and threw 69 pitches, including a pair of wild pitches. The game lasted 3 hours, 24 minutes.
GO FOR THREE
Arrieta's four career triples are two more than any other active pitcher. The last pitcher with more than four in a career was Dontrelle Willis with six.
Cubs: John Lackey (1-2) gave up four runs in six innings of a 6-3 loss to Milwaukee in his last start, his second straight loss. He's 5-4 in 13 career starts against the Reds with a 3.56 ERA.
Reds: Bronson Arroyo (1-2) got his first major league victory in nearly three years, beating Baltimore 9-3 on Tuesday. He became the first Reds 40-year-old pitcher to win a game sine Boom-Boom Beck in 1945. He's 13-7 career against the Cubs but hasn't faced them since 2014.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball