CINCINNATI — Austin Jackson has enjoyed a good month over the last two games, according to Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon.
That's his outlook after Jackson hit a three-run homer to lead the Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.
The homer upped Jackson's RBI count to eight in the last two games. The outfielder, who had driven in two runs in 24 games since being acquired from Seattle on August 31, set a career-high with five RBIs in Chicago's 10-3 win on Wednesday.
"It's been a pretty good month for him," Maddon said, jokingly after Thursday's game.
Jackson said he's focused at the plate.
"It's good to get some at bats," Jackson said. "I got some pitches to hit, and I'm doing my best to not miss them."
Anthony Rizzo added an RBI double and Chris Denorfia also drove in a run as the Cubs kept alive their slim hopes for home-field advantage in Wednesday's wild-card playoff game, moving within two games of idle Pittsburgh in the race. Both teams have three to play — Chicago in Milwaukee and the Pirates against the Reds in Pittsburgh.
Joey Votto's seventh-inning RBI single extended to 47 his streak of consecutive games in which he's reached base at least once, the longest since Kevin Millar's 52-game stretch in 2007. Votto's streak is second-longest in Cincinnati franchise history to Pete Rose's 48-game stretch in 1978, when he tied the NL record with a 44-game hitting streak.
The Reds finished 0-7 on their last home stand of the season. They lost their last eight home games to close with a 34-47 home record, the worst at Great American Ball Park and the franchise worst since the 2001 team finished 27-54 in 2001. The Reds have lost 12 straight overall, matching the 1993 team for the franchise's longest losing streak in 70 years. The 1945 Reds lost 13 consecutive games.
The crowd of 26,352 Thursday pushed Cincinnati's season total to 2,419,506. That's down 57,158 from last year, during a season in which the Reds hosted the All-Star Game.
Jason Hammel (10-7) turned in five shutout innings to match his single-season career high in wins. He allowed five hits and zero walks to reach 10 wins for the fourth time. Hector Rondon, the sixth Cubs reliever, pitched the ninth for his 29th save.
Maddon planned to use Hammel for just five innings because he wanted to get some of his relievers work. The manager didn't tell Hammel before the game.
"I was surprised," said Hammel, 3-1 over his last five starts. "I wanted to go back out there. That's a good one to finish the season on. I'm moving in the right direction.
Jackson, who drove in a career-high five runs in Chicago's win Wednesday, followed one-out walks by Addison Russell and Dexter Fowler in the third inning with his ninth homer of the season and first with the Cubs since being acquired from Seattle on Aug. 31.
The Cubs' three starting pitchers in the series — Dan Haren, Jon Lester and Jason Hammel — teamed up to produce 20 1-3 innings without issuing a walk.
GET THE BALLS
Reds LHP John Lamb burned a drawn-in Cubs outfield for his first career professional hit, a double to left on what otherwise would have been a routine fly ball. Brandon Phillips led off the sixth with his 300th career double.
Cubs: C Miguel Montero was given a day game off after catching Wednesday's night game. Manager Joe Maddon said Montero also will be off Sunday, with veteran David Ross getting the start.
Reds: RHP Jon Moscot will keep working out at Cincinnati's complex in Goodyear, Arizona, after completing a successful bullpen session Wednesday. Moscot is coming back from surgery in June for a dislocated left shoulder.
Cubs: They open a three-game series at Milwaukee with RHP and Cy Young Award candidate Jake Arrieta (21-6) making his final regular-season appearance.
Reds: RHP Keyvius Sampson (2-6) is Cincinnati's scheduled starter in the first of a three-game series at Pittsburgh.