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Cubs 7, Reds 4: game notes from Lackey’s Cubs debut

John Lackey

MESA, Ariz. — Dan Vogelbach, Miguel Montero and Tim Federowicz homered for the Cubs (2-8), who came from behind to snap a seven-game Cactus League losing streak in veteran John Lackey’s first start since signing a two-year, $32 million deal in December.

Start me up

Lackey, the Cubs’ key pitching acquisition of the winter, made his spring debut for his new team with a three-inning start that was originally planned for two innings.

“I didn’t have very many pitches, so I went out there again,” said Lackey, who struck out three in the first inning (with a Jose Peraza home run mixed in). “I just threw a bunch of fastballs the first two innings. Trying to gain my arm strength right now. In the third inning I mixed in a few more things.

“Physically, I felt good. I’m still obviously dialing location, that sort of stuff.”

He gave up three runs on five hits and a walk.

The Neil deal

Right-hander Neil Ramirez, who might benefit the most from the struggles (and subsequent release) of left-hander Rex Brothers, made a 1-2-3 impression with an easy seventh inning that included a strikeout and pair of easy fly balls against the first three of the Reds’ order.

Ramirez, who had a 1.44 ERA as a rookie in 2014 before a shoulder injury wiped out most of his season last year, is on the bullpen bubble in camp.

He’s a leading candidate if the Cubs decide to keep an eighth reliever on the opening roster instead of a fifth bench player.

Shane-less

Veteran outfielder Shane Victorino, vying for that potential fifth bench spot, was a late scratch from Friday’s lineup because of tightness in his left calf.

He is to be re-evaluated Saturday. Juan Perez took his place in left field (and singled in the seventh).

On deck

Split squad: White Sox at Cubs, Mesa, Ariz., 2:05 p.m., 670-AM, Erik Johnson vs. Jason Hammel; Cubs at Dodgers, Glendale, Ariz., 8:05 p.m., mlb.com audio, Trevor Cahill vs. Brandon Beachy.