CINCINNATI — Bryan Price is looking forward to better days with the Cincinnati Reds.
The last-place Reds announced Friday that Price would return next year for a fourth season as manager, and then lost 7-3 to Ben Zobrist and the Chicago Cubs.
Price agreed to a one-year contract with a team option. The entire coaching staff also has been offered contracts for 2017.
“There is a mutual desire to stay connected,” said Price, who has a 207-277 record as Cincinnati’s manager. “For me, it’s an unbelievable opportunity. It is a storied franchise. I have really enjoyed my coaches and my team.”
Joey Votto hit a two-run homer in the ninth for Cincinnati, which has dropped three of four. Josh Smith (3-3) was charged with two runs and three hits in five-plus innings.
It was Smith’s second start of the season after 30 relief appearances.
“I don’t care what role I’m in as long as I’m wearing a Reds uniform,” he said. “I prefer to start. I’ve done that all my life, but I’ve kind of enjoyed my time in the bullpen, talking to guys like Tony Cingrani, who has been a starter. I have developed a routine out there.”
Zobrist homered twice and drove in three runs as Chicago improved to 14-3 against Cincinnati this season with two games to play. Jake Buchanan (1-0) pitched five shutout innings in his first start since 2014 with Houston.
The NL Central champion Cubs, headed for the playoffs for the second straight year, announced contract extensions for general manager Jed Hoyer and player development director Jason McLeod. Their new deals run through the 2021 season, mirroring president of baseball operations Theo Epstein’s contract announced on Wednesday.
Smith retired his first 12 batters before Zobrist led off the fifth with a drive to right for his first homer since Sept. 12. The All-Star also connected for a two-run shot in Chicago’s four-run eighth, No. 17 on the year.
“It was good,” Smith said. “I challenged hitters early and got a lot of early contact to pitch pretty deep in the game. The ball to Zobrist, I missed my spot.”
Chicago’s first three batters reached in the sixth, chasing Smith, and Addison Russell’s RBI double made it 3-1.
“Josh kept us in the game,” Price said. “That four-run inning gave them the separation they needed.”
Zobrist’s homers were Chicago’s 38th and 39th against the Reds this season, the most by one team against Cincinnati pitching in one season. The 1954 Brooklyn Dodgers and 1957 Milwaukee Braves previously shared the record with 38.
Votto, who left Thursday’s game at St. Louis in the eighth inning with a cut on his chin that required seven stitches, texted Price at 3 a.m. Friday saying that he would be ready to play.
Cubs: OF Jorge Soler (discomfort on his right side) will be re-evaluated on Saturday, manager Joe Maddon said.
Reds: 2B Brandon Phillips, sidelined by soreness in his left wrist and hand, was being examined Friday by members of the Reds medical staff, Price said.
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (19-4) seeks his first career 20-win season in his last start. He is 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA in four starts against Cincinnati this season.
Reds: RHP Tim Adleman (3-4), who set a career high with seven innings in his last start on Monday, will try to close out his season with back-to-back wins.