Rapid Reaction: Reds 7, Cubs 3

CINCINNATI -- The Chicago Cubs stumbled out of the gate Friday in the opener of a six-game road trip, falling 7-3 to the Cincinnati Reds.

How it happened: The Reds came out swinging against their old teammate as Cubs starter Travis Wood gave up seven runs (six earned) over seven innings with three home runs. The Cubs held leads of 1-0 in the second inning and 3-1in the fourth inning, but the Reds took control with a five-run fourth. Luis Valbuena, who got the start at third base over Josh Vitters, hit his first home run since June 29 against the Astros.

What it means: Consecutive solid outings against his former team was simply too much to ask from Wood. The left-hander gave up one run over seven innings last week against the team that traded him in the offseason. Back in Cincinnati, though, it was a different story as Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier all went deep. His six earned runs were shades of his late-July struggles when he gave up a combined 22 earned runs over three starts.

Outside the box: Reliever Michael Bowden, acquired from the Red Sox earlier this season for Marlon Byrd, continues to look much improved from an earlier disappointing stint with the Cubs. The right-hander first started his revival at Triple-A Iowa, posting a 2.76 ERA over 23 relief outings. He didn’t give up a run and allowed just one hit Friday. Over two outings since he returned Monday, he has given up one run and just two hits over 4 1/3 innings.

Off beat: The Cubs are still playing for pride but one incentive is to make things hard on teams still in playoff contention. That didn’t happen against the Reds, who started play Friday in first place in the NL Central, six games clear of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Reds have gained two games in the standings over the past 10 games despite going 5-5 in that stretch. The won three of four games last weekend at Wrigley Field.

Up next: The Cubs and Reds will square off in a day-night doubleheader Saturday caused by a May 1 rainout. The Cubs will send right-hander Jeff Samardzija (8-10, 4.06 ERA) to the mound in the first game and left-hander Brooks Raley (0-2, 9.00) to the hill in the nightcap. The Reds will counter with right-hander Johnny Cueto (15-6, 2.45) in Game 1 and have not decided on a starter for Game 2. The opener is at 12:10 p.m. CST while the finale is at 6:10 p.m. CST.