CHICAGO — Addison Russell may not be much of a home run hitter, but there is something about Opening Night that calls for the dramatic.
The second-year Cubs shortstop clubbed a three-run homer in the eighth inning, lifting Chicago to a 5-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday in the Cubs’ home opener.
“I just wanted to go there and see something straight and make hard contact,” Russell said. “(Cincinnati reliever Jumbo Diaz) threw me a fastball, and I hit it out. … I normally don’t hit home runs, but it’s Opening Night and we’re down and the occasion called for it.”
Russell’s first home run of the year came on a first pitch from Diaz with one out and brought home Ben Zobrist and Jorge Soler.
Adam Warren (1-0) worked a scoreless eighth for the win, while Hector Rondon struck out the side in the ninth for his second save as the Cubs (6-1) won their third straight.
Chicago’s comeback spoiled an impressive effort by Reds left-hander Brandon Finnegan, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. He would up allowing two runs on one hit in 6 2/3 innings. Finnegan struck out five and walked five.
Joey Votto went 2-for-4 for the Reds (5-2).
Finnegan held the Cubs hitless until catcher David Ross singled to center with two outs in the seventh. Pinch hitter Matt Szczur drew a walk, ending Finnegan’s night.
Right-hander Caleb Cotham walked Dexter Fowler to load the bases and departed for left-hander Tony Cingrani.
Jason Heyward then sliced 0-2 pitch to right center, scoring Ross and Szczur to break the shutout and cut Cincinnati’s lead to 3-2.
Cingrani (0-1) put two more runners on in the eighth and left for Diaz with one out.
Cubs starter Jon Lester got a no-decision. The left-hander gave up three runs on five hits, walked two and struck out five in a six-inning outing.
Even as his teammates went deep into the game without a hit, Lester figured something might happen.
“The other day in Arizona, (John Lackey) obviously didn’t get off to the start he wanted to, but nobody panicked, nobody really worried about it,” Lester said. “It (was) fine, we’ll be fine.
“That was really the atmosphere all night (on Monday). Nobody got down, and we had some good quality at-bats throughout the night that just didn’t turn into hits.”
Cincinnati scored solo runs in the first, third and fourth innings to stake Finnegan to an early 3-0 lead.
“He had to pitch with guys on base, and he walked five guys,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “But when he had to make the big pitches, he did, and the defense did a nice job for him.
“He’s really feeling a lot more comfortable. He had a lot of outs on two-strike off-speed pitches and felt confident throwing that pitch even when he was behind in the count.”
With runners on second and third with one out in the first, Brandon Phillips drove in the first run with his grounder to short to home Zack Cozart from third.
Billy Hamilton made it 2-0 to lead off the third, depositing Lester’s 1-2 pitch into the left field basket for his first homer of the year.
Finnegan’s two-out single to left drove in Phillips from third for a 3-0 edge in the fourth inning.
NOTES: Reds RHP Anthony DeSclafani remains on the 15-day disabled list (mild left oblique strain) but has bullpen work scheduled for this week at Wrigley Field. … 3B Eugenio Suarez hit four homers in Cincinnati’s first six games, the team’s hottest power start since Adam Dunn had four in six games in 2004. … 1B Joey Votto and 2B Brandon Phillips started their 977th game together, the most by any right side tandem in Reds history and most of any set of active infielders. … The Cubs returned to Wrigley Field for the first time since last October’s NL Championship Series sweep by the Mets to a park unchanged on the field but with extensive infrastructure changes, including a new clubhouse reported to be the second largest in the major leagues. … Monday’s 101st home opener was the Cubs’ first against the Reds since 1999. … After a Tuesday off day, the Cubs send RHP John Lackey (1-0, 9.00 ERA) against Reds RHP Alfredo Simon (0-0, 1.80 ERA) in the middle game of the series Wednesday. … The 6-1 record represents the Cubs’ best start since 1998.