CINCINNATI — Down to their final strike, the Cubs pulled off one more improbable comeback followed by one more wall-shaking party in the clubhouse. Victory No. 103 had such a familiar feel to it.

Matt Szczur doubled home two runs with two outs in the ninth inning, and Miguel Montero followed with a homer as Chicago finished one of its most successful seasons with a flourish, beating the Cincinnati Reds 7-4 on Sunday.

“It’s a perfect example of why we’ve won so many games this year,” Montero said.

With victory No. 103 in the books, the Cubs headed back to Wrigley Field for their first playoff game on Friday against the winner of the NL wild-card game. They’ve been using the last week to basically stay sharp and get ready for bigger games.

Ending the season with their 14th win in their last at-bat was fitting. So was the music-driven party in the clubhouse that ended with players raiding the cooler for bottles of water and then spraying manager Joe Maddon in celebration.

“Ending up with a win on the last day of the season, I think that speaks about our whole group,” said Maddon, sitting in the manager’s office with water dripping down the walls and the desk. “103 is a nice, round number. I’ll take it.”

The Cubs led the majors with their most victories since 1910. That’s no longer the reference point, however. The postseason focus is 1908, the last time they won a World Series.

The final series at Great American Ball Park was more about personal milestones. Jon Lester failed to get his 20th win on Saturday, and Kyle Hendricks finished as the ERA leader at 2.13 on Sunday despite a ragged performance. He gave up four runs and six hits in five innings, forcing in one run with a bases-loaded walk.

Hendricks hadn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last 22 starts. He came into the game with a 1.99 ERA, hoping to become the third Cubs pitcher in the last 96 years to finish below 2.00.

The meaningful statistic now: Hendricks’ 1.32 ERA at Wrigley Field this season, the best home ERA in the majors.

“At this point in my career, I never thought I’d be in this situation,” said Hendricks, 26, who is in only his second full season in the majors.

The Cubs have pulled off improbable comebacks all season, and had one more left. After Raisel Iglesias (3-2) retired the first two batters in the ninth, Chicago pulled ahead with a walk, a single and Szczur’s double. Montero’s homer was a major league record 103rd allowed by Reds relievers.

Justin Grimm (2-1) retired the one batter he faced for the win. Carl Edwards Jr. got his second save.

Cincinnati’s Joey Votto singled in four at-bats, giving him a .408 average since the All-Star break. He’s the first player in the majors to bat .400 after the break since Ichiro Suzuki hit .429 in 2004.

The Reds finished 68-94. Combined with last year’s 98 losses, it’s the first time they’ve had back-to-back 90-loss seasons since 1933-34. Attendance at Great American Ball Park was 1,894,085, a significant drop from the 2.4 million they drew last season while hosting the All-Star Game.

“What matters is how we utilize 2016 to be better in 2017 and 2018 and 2019 and get more fans in the stands,” manager Bryan Price said.


The Reds showed a video from David Ross’ days in Cincinnati on the videoboard in the middle of the first inning, honoring the Cubs catcher who will retire after the season. Fans gave him a standing ovation, and he waved his cap from the dugout railing.


The last two Cubs pitchers with ERAs below 2.00 were Grover Cleveland Alexander (1.91) in 1920 and Jake Arrieta (1.77) last year. … The Cubs hit 42 homers against the Reds this season, the most by any team against Cincinnati. … Reds pitchers allowed 258 homers overall, shattering the previous mark. The previous NL record was 239 by the 2001 Rockies.


Cubs: Jorge Soler was in left field after missing a week with a sore right side. He went 0 for 2 with a walk.

Reds: 2B Brandon Phillips missed the last five games with a bruised left hand.


Cubs: Await the winner of Wednesday’s NL wild-card playoff game hosted by the Mets against San Francisco. Manager Joe Maddon hasn’t announced his pitching rotation for the playoffs, although it’s likely to start with Lester. Chicago will work out on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Reds: Price got a one-year contract extension on Friday, answering the biggest offseason question.

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