Cubs Broke Out the Bats and Beat the ‘Stros – Cubs 14, Astros 6

Game Seventy-Four – Cubs 14, Astros 6

WP – Jeff Samardzija (5-7) LP – Jordan Lyles (4-2) Save – None

wflag-pubRyan Sweeney had a career day, Anthony Rizzo drove in four runs with a three-hit day and Jeff Samardzija survived the conditions at Wrigley as the Cubs closed out the weekend series with a convincing victory over the Astros.

The Cubs offense scored a season-high 14 runs on a season-high 16 hits and outslugged the Astros on a hitter’s day at Wrigley. The two teams scored a combined 20 runs on 29 hits and committed four errors. It was not a pretty game by any stretch for either team but at least the Cubs came out on top on Sunday afternoon (4-8 on Sundays in 2013).

Ryan Sweeney (3-for-5 with a home run, two doubles and six RBI) drove in Anthony Rizzo (3-for-3 with a home run, a double, HBP, four RBI and four runs scored) with the Cubs’ first run and the two left handed sluggers drove in a combined 10 runs and scored six on Sunday afternoon. Sweeney hit his third homer in a Cubs’ uniform in the seventh inning that capped a career-high six RBI day. Rizzo added his 12th longball of the season, a two-run shot in the eighth, that added an exclamation point to his perfect afternoon at the plate.

Nate Schierholtz (3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored) quietly had another good day at the dish while Alfonso Soriano (2-for-5 with a triple, a double and two runs scored) collected two extra basehits and scored two runs. Luis Valbuena (1-for-5 with a triple and a RBI) tripled in Scott Hairston in the seventh. Darwin Barney (2-for-5 with a RBI) had another two-hit game and continued showing improvement after a slow start to his season.

Half of the Cubs’ 16 hits went for extra bases (two home runs, two triples and four doubles) and Starlin Castro (0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored) was the only starter that did not record a hit on Sunday afternoon. Castro continued to struggle at the plate and in the field. Castro was charged with two more errors on Sunday and has committed at least one error in each of his last three games.

Jeff Samardzija put together a better outing than his final line indicates. Samardzija completed seven innings on a day that the wind was blowing out and the key to his success was that he did not issue a single free pass. Samardzija pitched around his defense in the Astros’ three-run fourth inning without allowing Houston to tie the game. Samardzija notched another quality start after allowing four runs, three earned, on nine hits with no walks and five strikeouts on 92 pitches, 67 for strikes. Samardzija even contributed at the plate with a 1-for-3 performance that included scoring the Cubs’ second run of the game.

James Russell allowed a run on three hits in a shaky two-thirds of an inning in the eighth. Henry Rodriguez struggled with his command in the ninth and gave up a run on one hit and one walk.

The Cubs and Astros were each charged with two errors but did not make several plays that extended innings for both teams.

With Sunday’s win, the Cubs improved to 8-3 against the Junior Circuit and ended their three-series losing streak at Wrigley. The Cubs will hit the road with a 31-43 mark on the season after taking two of three from Houston.

Jeff Samardzija retired Houston in order on just six pitches, all for strikes, in the first inning. Nate Schierholtz reached on a two-out single in the Cubs’ first but did not advance.

The Astros managed a one-out single by Chris Carter in the second. Samardzija retired three of the four batters with two deep fly ball outs. Samardzija needed 15 pitches, 11 for strikes, to complete two innings on Sunday.

Anthony Rizzo led off the second inning with a hustle double to right. Rizzo smacked a 1-1 pitch to right that went off of Altuve’s glove. Rizzo hustled out of the box and slid in safe at second as Marc Krauss’ throw got past Marwin Gonzalez. Rizzo got to his feet and ended up at third on the first error of the day. Ryan Sweeney fell behind 1-2 before working a full count. Sweeney hit a grounder to second that Altuve fielded and threw to first as Rizzo scampered home with the game’s first run. Castillo flied out to center and Barney grounded out to third to end the inning.

Samardzija set down the Astros in order in the third (28 pitches, 22 for strikes) and led off the third with a single to center. Luis Valbuena dribbled a 1-1 pitch up the middle. Gonzalez put himself into position to field the ball but took his eye off the ball. Samardzija and Valbuena were safe after the Astros’ second error in as many innings. The error seemed to affect Lyles and he issued a four-pitch walk to Castro to load the bases.

Nate Schierholtz drove a 1-1 pitch back up the middle, just to the right of second. Samardzija and Valbuena scored, 3-0 Cubs. With runners on first and second with no outs, Soriano predictably struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) for the first out.

Anthony Rizzo followed Soriano and lifted a 2-0 pitch to deep center. Castro tagged and scored as Schierholtz advanced to second on the play. Ryan Sweeney smoked a 2-0 pitch into left center. Schierholtz scored easily and the Cubs took a 5-0 lead. Lyles plunked Castillo and put runners on first and second with two down.

Darwin Barney hit a grounder back up the middle and through Lyles’ legs. Altuve could not change direction and the ball hit off his glove as he tried to field it and step on the bag. Castillo saw the miscue but did not read it correctly. Castillo took off for third and was hung up. Sweeney then broke for the plate and was thrown out at home to end the inning.

The Cubs took what appeared to be a commanding 5-0 lead into the fourth inning … but it quickly evaporated.

After Anthony Rizzo lost what should have been a foul pop out in the sun, Jose Altuve ripped a single into center. Jason Castro pulled a double into right and the Astros had runners on second and third with no outs. J.D. Martinez grounded out to second and plated Altuve, 5-1 Cubs. Chris Carter followed with a double to left center and Castro scored from third, 5-2 Cubs. Samardzija retired Krauss and got the groundball he needed off the bat of Matt Dominguez. Starlin Castro fielded the ball in the hole but side-armed a low throw to first. The ball skipped past Rizzo, Carter scored and Dominguez ended up at second with two down. Samardzija struck out Lyles swinging to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija survived his defense in the long fourth inning but it took him 29 pitches to record three outs. Samardzija threw 57 pitches, 43 for strikes, over the first four innings.

The Cubs did nothing in the fourth and Samardzija worked around a two-out double by Jason Castro in the fifth. Samardzija needed 67 pitches, 50 for strikes, to complete five innings on Sunday.

Alfonso Soriano tripled to right with one out in the fifth. With the infield in, Anthony Rizzo blooped a single into left center, Soriano scored and the Cubs took a 6-3 lead. Ryan Sweeney ripped a 3-1 pitch into the gap in left center. Maxwell raced over and got a glove on the ball but he could not haul it in. Maxwell then missed the cutoff man. Rizzo scored as Sweeney stopped at second. Castillo struck out swinging for out number two.

Darwin Barney delivered a single into center. Sweeney scored, 8-3 Cubs. Samardzija flied out to deep right to end the inning.

Chris Carter led off the sixth with a double to right center. Krauss flied out to right but Matt Dominguez singled to center and plated Carter with the Astros’ fourth run. Gonzalez flied out to deep center and Bo Porter sent up Brandon Barnes to hit for Jordan Lyles. Samardzija struck out Barnes swinging to end the inning … 83 pitches, 61 for strikes, for Samardzija after six frames.

Samardzija faced the minimum in the seventh after catching a liner from Altuve and doubling off Maxwell from first base.

The Cubs teed off on Wade LeBlanc in the seventh. Alfonso Soriano doubled to center to start the inning. LeBlanc then hit Rizzo to put two on with no outs for Sweeney.

Ryan Sweeney launched a 2-0 pitch from the lefty into the bleachers in right center. Sweeney’s third homer put the Cubs up 11-4. LeBlanc retired Castillo and Barney before issuing a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Scott Hairston. Luis Valbuena then ripped a triple off the wall in right. Hairston scored, 12-4 Cubs. Bo Porter went to his pen for Josh Fields and Castro struck out swinging to end the inning.

After seven complete, the Cubs led 12-4.

James Russell started the eighth and gave up a single to J.D. Martinez. Chris Carter followed with a double into the left field corner (2-2 pitch). Martinez scored, 12-5 Cubs. Russell retired Krauss on a pop out to third and Dominguez tapped back to the mound for the second out. Marwin Gonzalez singled to center and put runners on first and third with two down. Dale Sveum went to his pen for Carlos Villanueva. Ronny Cedeno hit for Fields and struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs kept hitting in the eighth. Nate Schierholtz led off with a single to center against lefty Wesley Wright. Soriano flied out to center for the first out.

Anthony Rizzo stepped in and lined a 1-0 pitch into the bleachers in right center … 14-5 Cubs. Welington Castillo doubled after Sweeney struck out but Barney struck out swinging to end the inning.

Henry Rodriguez took over in the ninth and struggled with his command. Rodriguez walked Justin Maxwell to start the inning. Jose Altuve ripped a 1-0 pitch toward first that Rizzo fielded and threw toward second. Castro dropped the ball, his second error of the game. Jason Castro singled to right to load the bags with no outs.

J.D. Martinez stepped in and pulled a 2-2 pitch toward third. Valbuena fielded the ball, stepped on third and threw to first. Maxwell scored but the 5-3 double play put Castro at second with two down. Chris Carter grounded out to Starlin Castro to end a wild game at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs are off on Monday and open a nine-game road trip on Tuesday with Edwin Jackson taking on Kyle Lohse and the Brewers in the first of three at Miller Park.

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Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth