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Finnegan’s effort wasted as Cubs rally by Reds 5-3

CHICAGO (AP) — Not long after his first close encounter with a big league no-hitter, Brandon Finnegan was already looking forward to his next bid.

Finnegan took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before the Reds’ bullpen got pounded, and Addison Russell hit a three-run homer in the eighth to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 5-3 victory over Cincinnati in their home opener on Monday night.

“I hope to experience it again and actually get a chance to go through with it,” Finnegan said. “It was a fun game.”

David Ross broke up the no-hit bid with a two-out single in the seventh that started a two-run rally, with Jason Heyward cutting the Cubs’ deficit to 3-2 with a bases-loaded single off Tony Cingrani.

In the eighth, Cingrani (0-1) walked Ben Zobrist with one out and hit Jorge Soler. Russell then drove Jumbo Diaz’s first pitch out to left-center, whipping the packed crowd into a frenzy and sending the Cubs to their sixth victory in seven games, matching their best start since 1998.

Finnegan allowed two runs and one hit over 6 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking five. He also drove in a run with a single.

Would he have been allowed to complete a no-hitter? Manager Bryan Price said no.

“He had a chance to throw a seven-inning no-hitter, but once his pitch count got up over 105 that was gonna be it for the night,” Price said. “His night would have been over after the 7th.”

Finnegan, who threw 111 pitches, was the main piece acquired when Cincinnati traded ace Johnny Cueto to Kansas City last season. He was a first-round pick by the Royals in 2014 out of TCU and pitched as a reliever in the World Series later that season.

Cincinnati acquired Finnegan with an eye on a fulltime move to the starting rotation, and after some mixed results last season, the left-hander has begun 2016 with two dominant outings — he tossed six strong innings with nine strikeouts in a 3-2 win over Philadelphia in his first start.

Billy Hamilton homered leading off the third, but the Reds took the loss after winning five of their first six.

Chicago’s Jon Lester pitched six innings, allowing three runs and five hits. Adam Warren (1-0) worked a scoreless eighth for his first win as a Cub, and Hector Rondon struck out the side in the ninth for his second save in as many chances.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Reds: SS Zack Cozart left the game because of tightness in his right quad. He was replaced by Ivan DeJesus Jr. to start the bottom of the fourth. “It being a chilly night and I just had some tightness in my quad,” said Cozart, who had reconstructive right knee surgery last year. “I’m gonna get some treatment tomorrow and come back Wednesday and see how I feel. Hopefully, I’ll feel fine.” … RHP Anthony DeSclafani (strained left oblique) played catch Monday and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. Manager Bryan Price said if everything goes well, the Reds will likely have him pitch in a rehab game.

Cubs: INF Javier Baez (bruised left thumb) started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa on Monday. Manager Joe Maddon said he will likely get 20 to 25 at-bats before being activated from the disabled list.

UP NEXT:

Reds: RHP Alfredo Simon (0-0, 1.80) looks to build on a solid start against Pittsburgh and maintain his mastery of the Cubs on Wednesday. He is 4-0 with a 1.66 ERA in 15 career games — five starts — against Chicago.

Cubs: RHP John Lackey (1-0, 9.00) makes his first start at Wrigley Field on Wednesday since signing with the Cubs in the offseason.