CHICAGO (AP) No matter what happens at the trade deadline, Joey Votto and the Cincinnati Reds think they will be just fine.

They like their team a lot.

“I feel genuinely like the entire group is like ‘We can do it,’” Votto said, “and it's that optimistic, aggressive sort of consistent attitude that they've had all year. All year.”

Votto, Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Will Benson each had two hits, and the Reds beat the Chicago Cubs 6-5 on Monday night in the opener of a key four-game series between NL Central contenders.

After Andrew Abbott struggled, six Cincinnati relievers combined for 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball. Buck Farmer (3-4) got five outs for the win, and All-Star Alexis Díaz worked the ninth for his 32nd save in 33 opportunities.

Building on a weekend series win at the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati (59-49) improved to 4-3 on a 10-game trip. It also increased its lead in the division to 1 1/2 games over Milwaukee.

“To play a game in Los Angeles against a very difficult Dodgers team and then to travel and then compete really well against a hot Chicago Cubs team I think said a lot about this team,” Votto said.

Dansby Swanson hit his 13th homer for third-place Chicago (53-53), and Yan Gomes had three of the team's eight hits. But the Cubs were unable to overcome another shaky performance by Marcus Stroman (10-8).

“It looked like he was just fighting his delivery a little bit,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “I know he's been trying to synch up his delivery pretty consistently, feeling good within that. I think that was the main thing tonight.”

With the trade deadline looming on Tuesday, Chicago acquired infielder Jeimer Candelario and right-hander José Cuas in a pair of deals. Candelario, who made his big league debut with the Cubs in 2016, hit .258 with 16 homers and 53 RBIs in 99 games with Washington.

Cincinnati also made a trade, acquiring reliever Sam Moll in a deal with Oakland.

“Another left-handed reliever definitely can help us,” manager David Bell said.

Chicago trailed 6-4 before Christopher Morel hit an RBI double off Ian Gibaut in the eighth. But Mike Tauchman struck out on a disputed checked swing and Nick Madrigal grounded out, ending the inning.

Díaz then retired the Cubs in order in the ninth.

“We were one swing and one break from being a reversal there,” Cubs outfielder Ian Happ said.

Cincinnati jumped in front with four consecutive two-out hits against Stroman in the second inning. Benson doubled home Votto and then scored on Luke Maile's two-run double.

After the Reds opened a 6-1 lead with three more runs in the third, including RBI singles for Votto and Jake Fraley, the Cubs responded with three in the bottom half against Abbott.

Seiya Suzuki and Happ hit consecutive sacrifice flies, and Gomes added a run-scoring single. Abbott then escaped the jam when he struck out Morel with runners on the corners.

Stroman allowed six hits, struck out two and walked two in three innings. The All-Star right-hander dropped to 1-4 with a 9.00 ERA in his last seven starts.

“Just not his best stuff tonight,” Ross said. “Everybody has some of those nights.”

Stroman did not speak with the media after the loss.

Abbott was charged with four runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings. The rookie left-hander won his previous two starts, allowing a total of eight hits over 14 scoreless innings.

“Just another one of those games where just didn't have the best command that I've ever shown,” Abbott said, “and they hit all the mistakes.”


Reds: To make room for Moll on the 40-man roster, RHP Hunter Greene (right hip pain) was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

Cubs: RHP Brad Boxberger (forearm strain) is expected to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. ... RHP Nick Burdi (appendectomy) is scheduled for live batting practice on Tuesday. ... LHP Brandon Hughes (left knee inflammation) continues to play catch this week.


Cubs left-hander Justin Steele (11-3, 2.87 ERA) goes for his third straight win when he takes the mound on Tuesday night. Right-hander Ben Lively (4-6, 3.76 ERA) starts for the Reds.



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