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Cubs bridge troubled waters with comeback win over Reds to salvage rare series split on road

After outlasting Reds All-Star ace Luis Castillo, the Cubs scored four in the seventh — three on Kris Bryant’s homer off reliever Michael Lorenzen — in a 6-3 victory.

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds
Bryant hits a go-ahead three-run homer in Sunday’s seventh inning as the Cubs beat the Reds 6-3.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

CINCINNATI — The home-white jerseys are sticking around for at least one more trip — especially after the Cubs pulled off an unlikely comeback Sunday in a personal house of horrors on the road this year.

“It kind of felt like we weren’t going to win that game,” said Kris Bryant, who had the game-changing three-run home run in the seventh inning off reliever Michael Lorenzen.

The Cubs outlasted Reds All-Star ace Luis Castillo for a 6-3 victory that salvaged a split of the four-game series.

With their home whites hanging at each player’s stall in the visitors’ clubhouse for the series, the Cubs routed the Reds in the opener and were seven outs away from losing the series. But Ian Happ doubled off Castillo to open a four-run seventh.

By the end of the game, the Cubs still hadn’t won a road series since the middle of May, but they carried a much different vibe — as calm and peaceful as ’60s mellow pop music.

“We did the nice bookends — that was the name of an album at one point, right?” manager Joe Maddon said. “When you win the first and then you win the last, when you bookend it, you Simon and Garfunkeled them.”

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Who cares after Jon Lester pitched well enough to keep it close, rookie Rowan Wick looked dominant for two innings and Happ added his own homer in the eighth.

“It was huge,” Bryant said. “We’re not really focused on the road record, per se. The past is whatever it is; our record is not good. But we try to have fun with it, bringing the white uniforms on the road. And it worked twice. We’ll take it.”

Lester, who called himself the rotation’s “weakest link” after his previous start, fought through five innings, allowing three runs in a “better” performance that included seven strikeouts.

“I guess I have to eat my own words and say I kept them in the game and gave them a chance, and they rewarded us,” Lester said. “I feel like we snuck that one out, and to get two out of four on this long road trip is hopefully a positive, and we can keep going in that direction going into Philly.”

Big week for pen in Penn.

After surviving to split a four-game series with a depleted bullpen carrying four rookies by Saturday, the Cubs eye the next few days in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh as a chance to get well, if not whole again, in the relief corps.

Left-hander Kyle Ryan (2.80 ERA) is expected to return from bereavement leave Tuesday, and Brandon Kintzler (2.33) is expected to be ready to return from a pectoral injury Friday.

“We just have to find out more about [closer Craig] Kimbrel, and then [Steve] Cishek’s still got some time,” Maddon said. “This week will tell.”

Kimbrel (sore knee), who didn’t travel to Cincinnati, plans to join the team in Philadelphia and throw a bullpen session, after which a timeline could start to become clear. Cishek (left hip), who returned to Chicago when put on the IL on Saturday, also joins the team in Philadelphia for rehab work.

Zobrist awaits next step

After a 2-for-10 stop at advanced Class A Myrtle Beach that included two homers and two walks, veteran infielder Ben Zobrist went back home to continue working out as he prepares for the next stop on his comeback trail.

Zobrist, who is expected to deliberate with the front office in the next day or two about where he’ll go next, left the team more than three months ago on personal leave to take care of family issues related to his pending divorce.

He’s 4-for-19 with three walks in six games for two Cubs affiliates since starting his spring-like comeback process.