Travis Wood admitted to being more than a little excited to face his former team Saturday.
The Cubs lefty more than held his own against the Cincinnati Reds, working 7 innings of 5-hit, 1-run ball. But workhorse reliever James Russell suffered a blown save in the eighth inning as the Reds rallied for a 4-2 victory at Wrigley Field.
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"I'd probably be lying if I said there wasn't," Wood said of an extra-special feeling. "It was the first time facing them since leaving them, and it was exciting."
Wood, who came to the Cubs last Christmas as part of the trade that sent reliever Sean Marshall to Cincinnati, equaled his career high with 8 strikeouts.
He batted in the seventh inning but manager Dale Sveum lifted him with a pitch count of 99. Russell, who was tied for third in the National League in appearances (he now has 56), had a rare bad outing, giving up 3 runs on 5 hits.
"Unfortunately, that happens, but I wasn't too down on myself," said Russell who fell to 5-1 with a 3.59 ERA after suffering his second blown save.
"Yeah, I'm kind of (ticked) that it ended up that way, but I executed some good pitches, and unfortunately, sometimes good pitches get hit, and they found holes."
Russell's bullpen mate, Shawn Camp, entered Saturday leading the NL in appearances (57), but he was unavailable after having worked the previous two days.
"Body feels great, and I've been working hard," Russell said. "There's no sign of me getting dragged down. My body feels great physically."
Manager Dale Sveum said he was impressed by Wood.
"It was a great outing," Sveum said. "To step up like that against that right-handed lineup and his former team was great. He pitched as good as you possibly could."
Reds lefty Aroldis Chapman earned his second save in two days. Fastballs were clocked at 102 and 103 mph, and his off-speed stuff was in the low 90s. On top of that, he was throwing through the late-afternoon shadows.
"Unbelievable," said Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, who popped out on an off-speed pitch in the ninth inning. "This guy's awesome. He throws a changeup like 94 and a slider at 91 -- it's like a fastball with other pitchers."
Jackson banged up:
Center fielder Brett Jackson did not play. He was involved in an outfield collision Friday, and he experienced upper-body soreness near his shoulder.
"It's kind of basically like he got hit by a truck or something, kind of a whiplash type effect with that collision in center field," Dale Sveum said.
The Cubs activated right-handed reliever Lendy Castillo off the disabled list and optioned lefty reliever Scott Maine to Class AAA Iowa. Castillo had been out since mid-May with a groin strain. The Cubs took him from the Phillies in last December's Rule 5 draft.
•For a comprehensive look at the Cubs' minor leagues, check out the Daily Herald's baseball blog, Chicago's Inside Pitch, at dailyherald.com.