CINCINNATI — Anthony Rizzo had a pair of hits as part of a 30th birthday celebration, Nicholas Castellanos added to his Chicago surge with a pair of homers and the Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds, 12-5, on Thursday night for their biggest NL Central lead of the season.
The Cubs’ sixth win in seven games gave them a 3½-game margin over the idle Brewers. The Reds wasted a big game by rookie Aristides Aquino — Yasiel Puig’s replacement — and fell to eight games out, one shy of their biggest deficit.
Reds manager David Bell returned from a six-game suspension for going after Pirates manager Clint Hurdle during a benches-clearing brawl last week at Great American Ball Park. Reliever Jared Hughes began a three-game suspension Thursday, imposed for purposely hitting Starling Marte with a pitch. Eight Reds and Pirates were suspended in all, including Hurdle.
Rizzo was greeted in the visiting clubhouse by a banner featuring pictures of him as a youth. A few Cubs fans sang “Happy Birthday” before his first at-bat, and he answered with an RBI double off left-hander Alex Wood.
Castellanos had a pair of solo homers among his three hits, the latter breaking a 5-5 tie off Kevin Gausman (3-8) in the fourth inning. He’s hit safely in all eight games since the Cubs got him from Detroit.
Ian Happ drove in four runs with a single and a two-run homer, his second straight games with four RBIs.
Left-hander Cole Hamels returned to the mound where he strained his left oblique on June 28. In his second start off the injury list, Hamels let an early four-run lead slip away as Aquino had an RBI double and two-run homer.
Marlins 9, Braves 2
MIAMI — Brian Anderson homered twice to lead Miami to the win over visiting Atlanta.
Elieser Hernandez pitched six shutout innings as the Marlins snapped a six-game losing streak and beat the NL East-leading Braves at home for the first time this season after six previous losses. Hernandez (2-4) allowed two hits, struck out seven and walked two. The right-hander retired 11 consecutive batters before Ronald Acuña’s leadoff single in the sixth.
Tigers 10, Royals 8
DETROIT — Jordy Mercer’s two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth gave Detroit the win over Kansas City.
Travis Demeritte led off the ninth with his third walk of the game and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jake Rogers.
Mercer then hit a 2-1 fastball from Richard Lovelady (0-2) into the right-field stands for his sixth homer of the season and the eighth of a game in which both starters struggled.
Yankees 12, Blue Jays 6
TORONTO — Gio Urshela hit two home runs for the second straight game and New York outslugged rookie Bo Bichette and Toronto to extend its winning streak to a season-best nine games.
Playing in Toronto for the first time, Bichette became the first player in major league history to double in nine consecutive games. He also homered, giving him an unprecedented 13 extra-base hits in his first 11 career games. Bichette is the first rookie to have an extra-base hit in nine straight games since Ted Williams in 1939, according to STATS.
Red Sox 3, Angels 0
BOSTON — Chris Sale righted himself and struck out 13 over eight two-hit innings, Sam Travis hit a two-run homer and Boston beat Los Angeles.
Sale (6-11) had allowed 14 runs over nine innings during his previous two starts, both against the rival New York Yankees. He carved up the Angels in his 13th outing with double-digit strikeouts this season.
• Red Sox left-hander David Price was placed on the 10-day injured list Thursday after an MRI revealed a cyst on his left wrist.
The team announced that the 33-year-old Price was treated with a shot of cortisone in the wrist on Wednesday. Price is 7-5 record with a 4.36 ERA over 21 starts this season.
Red Sox manager Cora noted that the cyst, classified as a TFCC cyst, was not cancerous or related to any other serious illness.
Price most recently pitched Sunday against the New York Yankees after being reinstated from paternity leave. Price allowed seven runs on nine hits in 22/3 innings in New York, falling to 0-4 with a 10.59 ERA in his last four starts.
Indians 7, Twins 5
MINNEAPOLIS — Jose Ramirez drove in three runs, Mike Clevinger kept Minnesota quiet with nine strikeouts in seven innings, and Cleveland struck first in this four-game series between the AL Central front-runners with a victory that cut the Twins’ division lead to one game.
Indians closer Brad Hand ended the game by retiring Eddie Rosario on a routine flyout with the bases loaded, recording his 29th save in dramatic fashion.
Astros to extend netting before next homestand
HOUSTON — The Houston Astros will extend the protective netting at Minute Maid Park to cover more of the seating area, joining other teams that have taken safety measures after foul balls injured fans.
The team announced Thursday that the extended netting would be installed before the homestand starting Aug. 19. It will run farther down the left-field and right-field lines to better protect fans from foul balls and bats that fly out of hitters’ hands.
A 2-year-old girl suffered a skull fracture when she struck by a foul ball during a May game in Houston.
Last month, the Chicago White Sox became the first major league team to extend protective netting from foul pole to foul pole. The safety measure was announced a week after a foul ball sent a woman to the hospital with her head bleeding.