Cubs put down the whine, raise a glass of the good stuff after victory

Cubs manager Joe Maddon brought a generous-sized glass of “Big Smooth” red wine to his postgame media briefing Tuesday night, then raised the glass above the microphone.

“Cheers,” said the man who toasted both the Cubs’ 9-5 victory over the Reds and his 1,000th win as a manager.

Four Cubs home runs and a bend-but-not-break start from John Lackey on a warm, windblown hitters’ night provided a game worth breaking out the wine and putting a cork in the whine.

It was just the Cubs’ third victory in 10 games and pushed their record back to .500.

Joe Maddon congratulates struggling leadoff man Kyle Schwarber after a second-inning home run.

“This is a strong test for us,” struggling first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “We can go one of two ways.”

Rizzo, who went 2-for-16 on last week’s road trip, took advantage of the conditions Tuesday to drive a hit off the wall in left in his first at-bat and one over the wall in right in his last (drawing an intentional walk in between).

Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Addison Russell also homered.

Maddon thanked his players, coaches and bosses for his 1,000th win.

“He always had a great mind for the game,” said Lackey (4-3), who first knew Maddon as a bench coach with the Angels when Lackey was a rookie. “You could definitely tell he was probably going to be a manager someday.”

Lackey pitched into the sixth inning with a 5-3 lead. And for the fourth consecutive Lackey start, the Cubs won.

The only thing that matters now is what comes next.

“There’s no panic,” president Theo Epstein said. “But there’s also a lot of guys in there that care about playing up to our capabilities. That’s one of the reasons I have so much trust in this group and a lot of confidence that we’re going to get it straightened out.”

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

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