CHICAGO (AP) — Hunter Greene saw the no-hit bid come to an end and went back to his conversation with the strength coach.
The right-hander was out of the game after throwing six hitless innings. The Cincinnati Reds were well on their way to a 9-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on Friday, and that's what mattered to him.
"There's going to be growing pains," Greene said. "I'm trying to figure stuff out. We have a young group, young core of players. They're going to be figuring things out. We're working hard every single day. We're putting pieces together, and it's gonna pay off very soon."
Greene (1-4) set the tone as the Reds came within six outs of the majors' first no-hitter this season. He matched a career high with 11 strikeouts in picking up his first win in 11 starts this season.
There have been 17 no-hitters by Cincinnati, the most recent coming on May 7, 2021, when Wade Miley tossed one against the Cleveland Guardians.
Greene had the Reds in position to add to that list. But the Cubs got their only two hits in the eighth against Eduardo Salazar.
The hard-throwing Greene walked two while throwing 110 pitches. And other than a fly to the warning track by Nico Hoerner in the sixth, there weren't many hard hit balls against the right-hander.
"He wasn't gonna be bullied today," catcher Curt Casali said. "He was going to be the aggressor. With that type of stuff, a high-octane fastball, that's what you have to do — dare them to hit it. I think it was a positive step for him, for sure. That's just the tip of the iceberg for him."
Salazar, making his second major league appearance, retired all three batters in the seventh before Christopher Morel lined a single to center leading off the eighth. Miles Mastrobuoni singled with one out.
There were a record nine no-hitters in 2021 and four last year. Manager David Bell said he was "more focused on the score" and had "lost track" of the fact that the Reds had one going.
Matt McLain, Spencer Steer, Tyler Stephenson and Stuart Fairchild each had three of Cincinnati's season-high 19 hits.
Stephenson capped a two-run first with an RBI single, doubled and scored in the third, and chased Cubs starter Justin Steele (6-2) in the fourth with a run-scoring single that made it 6-0.
Shut out for the first time this season, the Cubs have been outscored 19-1 the past two games after getting pounded 10-1 by the New York Mets on Thursday.
Steele simply took a beating in his shortest start of the year. Fourth in the National League in ERA coming in, he got tagged for a season-worst six runs — five earned. The right-hander matched a career high by giving up 10 hits.
"I felt like I had my stuff," Steele said. "I felt like I was executing pitches, doing different things. Similar to outings prior to this. I felt like I was commanding my four-seamer and making pitches and I just felt like the other team was doing a good job of battling stuff off. The swing-and-miss pitches, fouling them off. Just kind of give credit to the other team for doing what they were supposed to do."
The Reds grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first when Steer followed McLain's one-out single with a triple to right-center and scored on Tyler Stephenson's single.
Cincinnati got another run in the third when Stephenson doubled with two out and scored on Nick Senzel's single up the middle.
Kevin Newman doubled off the left-field ivy leading off a three-run fourth and scored on Jose Barrero's single. Jonathan India added a sacrifice fly and Stephenson chased Steele with a two-out, RBI bloop single, making it 6-0.
Reds: The Reds placed OF/1B Wil Myers (kidney stone) on the 10-day injured list and reinstated RHP Fernando Cruz (right shoulder strain) from the 15-day IL. They also recalled OF Will Benson from Triple-A Louisville and optioned RHP Alan Busenitz to the minor league club.
Cubs: Manager David Ross said OF Cody Bellinger (bruised left knee) is "getting better," but still experiencing pain. Bellinger was eligible to come off the injured list on Friday.
Cubs RHP Jameson Taillon (0-3, 8.10 ERA) and Reds rookie LHP Brandon Williamson (0-0, 3.60) seek their first win. The Cubs have lost all seven games started by Taillon, who got tagged for eight runs in 21/3 innings at Philadelphia last week.