CHICAGO — The Cubs picked up the slack Monday night for the loss of Anthony Rizzo and for the ineffectiveness of left-hander Cole Hamels.

Kyle Schwarber hit a three-run home run in the first inning and made a diving catch in left field to take away a potential RBI away from Josh VanMeter in the fourth.

Relievers Steve Cishek, Alec Mills, Rowan Wick, Kyle Ryan and David Phelps held the Reds scoreless over the final 5 2/3 innings, enabling the Cubs to pull away for an 8-2 victory and remain two games behind the first-place Cardinals in the National League Central.

The victory extended the Cubs’ winning streak to five games and marked their first game without Rizzo, who could miss the remainder of the regular season because of Grade 2 lateral right ankle sprain.

Schwarber’s homer barely cleared the center-field wall but was good enough for him to become the first Cubs left-handed hitter with 37 home runs in season since Hall of Famer Billy Williams in 1972.

Schwarber also increased his RBI total to 88.

The Cubs (82-68) added insurance in the seventh when Jason Heyward ripped a double over the head of center fielder Michael Lorenzen for a double to score Willson Contreras.

Ben Zobrist, who took over the leadoff spot for Rizzo, hit a single with two out to score Victor Caratini to cap the rally.

Nicholas Castellanos hit a two-run double, his 55th, to cap a three-run eighth.

Manager Joe Maddon pulled Hamels with two runners on and one out in the fourth. Steve Cishek, pitching for the first time since Wednesday when he walked in the winning run in a 9-8 loss at San Diego, walked Alex Blandino and allowed a sacrifice fly to Phillip Ervin but froze formidable Eugenio Suarez on a breaking pitch to end the rally.


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