Cincinnati, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Jay Bruce made an error in his first career start at first base, but also homered for the second straight game to help guide the Cincinnati Reds to a 9-3 win over the Chicago Cubs in the opener of a five-game series.
Bruce, an outfielder by trade, had spent the first 899 games of his major league career occupying one of the three outfield spots. He had played exclusively in right since the start of the 2009 season but was moved to first base on Monday because of former MVP Joey Votto's nagging muscle strain in his left knee. Votto missed his second straight game and may land on the disabled list.
Bruce finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored for the Reds, who improved to 6-3 against Chicago this season. Starter Mike Leake (7-7) also continued his dominance over the Cubs, striking out seven in seven innings to win his fourth consecutive decision against them.
Edwin Jackson (5-9) absorbed the loss, yielding four runs on seven hits over six innings. Cubs leadoff hitter Chris Coghlan went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored.
The Reds manufactured a run in the first inning, with Billy Hamilton working a leadoff walk, moving to third on Todd Frazier's single and scoring on a Brandon Phillips sacrifice fly to right.
Chicago tied it with a run in the top of the fifth. With Coghlan on third and two outs, Anthony Rizzo grounded sharply down the first base line. Bruce stabbed at the ball but couldn't scoop it up, allowing Coghlan to score.
"I felt like it was solid," Bruce said of his play at first base. "I felt like I should have made the play on the backhand down the line. We were able to score some runs to kind of erase that. I've never been more stressed on the baseball field, that's for sure."
The Reds put two more across in the home fifth, however, to go back in front. With two gone and runners on second and third, Hamilton smacked a liner to right. Frazier followed with an RBI base knock to left.
Devin Mesoraco's RBI double in the sixth made it 4-1.
Chicago drew back within a run in the seventh on Rizzo's two-run blast to right, but Bruce's long ball in the home portion put Cincinnati back up by three runs. He made amends for his earlier miscue, crushing a James Russell offering down the right field line for a two-run shot.
Blake Parker walked two to start the eighth and Zack Cozart singled to load the bags for Hamilton, who cleared them with a three-run triple to right for the final runs.
The game was delayed for 21 minutes in the third inning due to rain ... Mesoraco has 10 RBI in his last eight games against the Cubs ... Votto missed 23 games earlier this season with the same injury ... Bruce had gone 0-for-26 before hitting the game-winning home run in the eighth inning on Sunday ... Rizzo's HR broke a string of eight games without an extra-base hit ... The two teams will play a doubleheader on Tuesday.