CINCINNATI — The Cubs didn’t play their best baseball in April and stumbled out of the gate, going 11-15 last month.
Manager David Ross has been looking for more balanced games, wanting to see good offense and good pitching at the same time. Many of the Cubs’ games last month featured one or the other, but rarely did they feature both.
But the Cubs got a little bit of everything in their 3-2 victory Saturday against the Reds.
‘‘It’s a close game, you’ve got high emotions and [it’s] a division rival,’’ second baseman Nico Hoerner said. ‘‘I know it’s May 1 and early in the year, but it’s definitely significant for the morale of this team and what we can do in games like that.’’
The Cubs trailed 2-0 early, but they came back to tie the score on an RBI single by Jason Heyward in the fourth inning. They would score the go-ahead run on an RBI single by Hoerner in the sixth.
Things got testy after Reds reliever Amir Garrett struck out first baseman Anthony Rizzo in the eighth. The two have had verbal exchanges in the past, and Garrett proceeded to yell in Rizzo’s direction after the strikeout as Rizzo walked back to the dugout.
‘‘That’s not the way that I think baseball is intended to go,’’ Ross said. ‘‘But I think that’s his style. I don’t agree with it. I think it’s garbage, but he’s not on my team.’’
Shortstop Javy Baez took exception to Garrett barking at Rizzo and immediately hopped over the rail of the dugout in his defense. Baez made his way toward the mound as the benches emptied before the umpires broke it up.
‘‘I’m not going to let [Amir Garrett] or anyone disrespect my teammates,’’ Baez said afterward. ‘‘I like what he does, [but] he’s just got to do it to his team and not to us after a strikeout. I’ve hit three homers against him, and I didn’t do anything to show him up or his team, you know?’’
Once order was restored, the Reds gave closer Craig Kimbrel everything he could handle in the ninth.
Kimbrel allowed back-to-back singles to open the inning, putting the tying and go-ahead runs on base with nobody out. He proceeded to strike out Alex Blandino and Tyler Naquin looking before getting former Cubs outfielder Nick Castellanos on a grounder to end the game. The Cubs’ bullpen worked five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts.
‘‘A really good day in the bullpen,’’ Ross said. ‘‘We held strong. It was really big of Craig to lock it down there in the end, not crumbling under adversity and doing what he does. I thought all around it was a really nice win for us.’’
It might not have been possible without the work of starter Zach Davies, who wasn’t perfect but had his best start in almost a month. Davies’ stuff was better than it has been in many of his recent starts, and he had batters chasing his changeups down in the zone and taking some ugly swings.
The game could have gotten away from Davies when he faced bases-loaded, two-out jams in the third and fourth, but he made big pitches when he needed them to keep the Cubs in the game. He allowed one earned run and four hits, struck out three and walked three in four innings.
‘‘Swing-and-miss is great,’’ Davies said. ‘‘You avoid contact, you avoid the luck or whatever they call it — BABiP [batting average on balls in play] — and things like that in the game. . . .
‘‘I felt like in the past few games, guys have kind of been diving over the plate, trying to get low in the zone and sit on changeups. So being able to locate in and out kind of freed up that changeup in the count to get a little bit different swings on it.’’