Oh What a Night for Junior Lake – Cubs 4, Diamondbacks 2

Game Ninety-Seven – Cubs 4, Diamondbacks 2

WP – Chris Rusin (1-0) LP – Tyler Skaggs (2-2) Save – Kevin Gregg (19)

wflag-pubThe Cubs started the four-game series in Phoenix on a positive note with a solid win over the Diamondbacks. Chris Rusin picked up the victory with an impressive outing after being recalled to take Matt Garza’s spot in the rotation but Monday night belonged to Junior Lake.

Junior Lake drove in three of the Cubs’ four runs with the first four-hit game of his career. Lake reached base twice with two bunt singles, hit a two-run homer that traveled around 400 feet and singled in the Cubs’ fourth run in the ninth inning. Lake is 9-for-17 over his first four big league games. Lake is the first player since Andy Pafko in 1943 to collect nine hits in his first four games in a Cubs’ uniform. Lake showed off his speed on the two bunt singles but made a bad decision when he tried to swipe second base on a delayed steal in the seventh and was thrown out with Anthony Rizzo at the plate to end the inning.

Dioner Navarro (1-for-3 with a home run and a HBP) put the Cubs on the board in the second inning with his ninth longball of the season. Starlin Castro (2-for-5 with a double) collected two more hits and Darwin Barney (1-for-4 with a run scored) singled in the ninth and scored the Cubs’ fourth run. The Cubs outhit Arizona 11-6 on Monday night.

Chris Rusin put together an excellent outing all things considered. Rusin did not allow his first hit until the third inning and took a one hit shutout into the sixth inning. Rusin gave up a bloop double to Didi Gregorius then walked pinch-hitter Adam Eaton to start the sixth and Dale Sveum went to his pen for Blake Parker. Parker allowed both inherited runners to score. Rusin picked up his first big league victory of the season after being charged with two runs on two hits with two walks and four strikeouts in five-plus innings. Rusin threw 78 pitches, 46 for strikes. Chris Rusin (1-for-2 with a run scored) helped his own cause and reached on an infield single in the fifth ahead of Junior Lake’s home run.

James Russell struggled again in the seventh but Matt Guerrier was able to pick up the final out in the seventh without allowing the D-Backs to tie the game. Pedro Stop pitched a scoreless eighth and Kevin Gregg picked up his 19th save with a scoreless ninth.

Cole Gillespie (1-for-4) made two big plays in right field. Gillespie made a tremendous sliding catch into the side wall in foul ground to retire Aaron Hill in the second and an excellent running catch on a ball in the right field corner off the bat of Gerardo Parra in the fifth. Gillespie doubled off Cody Ross from first to end the inning.

The Cubs knocked the Diamondbacks out of first place in the west with Monday’s victory and improved to 44-53 on the season …

Starlin Castro doubled to right with one out in the first and advanced to third when Rizzo flied out to deep right but Soriano struck out swinging to end the inning.

Chris Rusin was very sharp the first time through the lineup. Rusin retired the D-Backs in order in the first inning on 12 pitches, six for strikes.

Dioner Navarro gave the Cubs an early 1-0 lead with his ninth longball of the season. Navarro pulled a 2-1 pitch from Tyler Skaggs into the stands in left center with one out in the second. Skaggs struck out Gillespie swinging and Barney flied out to center to end the inning.

Cole Gillespie made a sensational sliding catch into foul ground to retire Aaron Hill to start the second inning. Gillespie raced in and slid feet first into the padded side wall. Gillespie held onto the ball for the first out in the inning. Rusin retired the side in order in the second, thanks to Gillespie, and needed on 25 pitches, 17 for strikes, to complete two innings on Monday night.

Junior Lake reached on a bunt single up the first baseline with one out in the third. But Skaggs struck out Castro swinging and retired Rizzo on a grounder to first to end the inning.

Chris Rusin surrendered his first hit with one out in the third, a single to right by Didi Gregorius. Skaggs could not get the bunt down and Rusin struck out Skaggs swinging for the second out. A.J. Pollock fouled out to Navarro behind home plate to end the inning. Rusin needed 42 pitches, 27 for strikes, to complete three innings.

At the end of three, the Cubs led 1-0.

The Cubs struggles with runners in scoring position continued in the fourth inning. After Skaggs hit Navarro in the knee with two outs and the benches were warned, Cole Gillespie singled to right. With runners on first and second and two down, Barney grounded out to second to end the inning. After four at bats, the Cubs were 0-for-3 with RISP and left four men on base.

Chris Rusin set the side down in order in the fourth … Prado (flyout to left), Goldschmidt (strikeout looking) and Hill (strikeout swinging). Rusin threw 57 pitches, 36 for strikes, over the first four innings.

Chris Rusin helped his own cause in the third. Rusin chopped a 2-1 pitch toward second base. Aaron Hill charged the ball and tried to flip it with his glove to first. But the flip was high and Rusin reached with an infield single.

Junior Lake stepped in and crushed a 2-0 pitch from Tyler Skaggs. The ball traveled more than 400 feet and ended up in the stands in left center. Lake’s first big league home run gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead. Starlin Castro followed with his second hit of the game, a single to right, but Skaggs struck out both Rizzo and Soriano swinging to end the inning.

Chris Rusin faced the minimum in the fifth after issuing a one-out walk to Cody Ross. Gerardo Parra hit a deep fly to the corner in right that Cole Gillespie ran over and caught. Ross misread the play and was doubled off first to end the inning. Rusin needed 68 pitches, 41 for strikes, to complete five innings.

After the Cubs went down in order in the top of the sixth, Chris Rusin took the hill in the home half with a 3-0 lead. Didi Gregorius led off the inning with a bloop double into left center. Lake raced in and Castro raced out but the ball fell in between as the two former roommates just avoided a collision. Adam Eaton hit for Skaggs and Rusin walked him. With the Cubs up by three runs and runners on first and second with no outs, Dale Sveum made the slow walk and went to his pen for Blake Parker.

Blake Parker struck out A.J. Pollock swinging on a ball in the dirt. But the ball skipped past Navarro and both runners moved up ninety feet on a wild pitch. Martin Prado followed and put Arizona on the board with a sac fly to right. Gregorius tagged and scored, 3-1 Cubs, and Eaton advanced to third on the play. Parker fell behind Paul Goldschmidt 2-0 then caught took much of the plate with a curveball. Goldschmidt drove the mistake back up the middle. Barney was in the shift, but could not field the smash cleanly. Eaton scored on the infield single, 3-2 Cubs. After a visit from Chris Bosio, Parker retired Hill on the first pitch. Hill popped out to Barney in shallow right to end the inning.

Junior Lake reached with his second bunt single of the night with one out in the seventh. Lake bunted toward third and beat it out easily. Castro flied out to right for the second out then Lake was thrown out at second on a delayed steal attempt with Rizzo at the plate.

James Russell started the seventh and continued to struggle. Miguel Montero lined out to center for the first out then Cody Ross blooped a double down the right field line. Rizzo raced out and tried to make a sliding catch going away from the infield. The ball landed and Ross ended up at second. Russell walked Gerardo Parra and Didi Gregorius to load the bases with one out.

Adam Eaton popped a 0-1 pitch into left center. Lake ran over, caught the ball and threw a strike to the cutoff man, Anthony Rizzo. Ross held at third. After Wil Nieves was announced as the pinch-hitter for Josh Collmenter, Dale Sveum went to his pen for Matt Guerrier. Kirk Gibson countered with Eric Chavez. Guerrier got Chavez to flyout to Lake in left center to end the inning.

After seven complete, the Cubs led 3-2.

The Cubs could not tack on in the eighth after Anthony Rizzo walked to start the inning. J.J. Putz took over for Tony Sipp after the free pass. Soriano chopped a 2-1 pitch back up the middle. Putz tried to barehand the ball, dropped it and had to settle for first base. Rizzo ended up at second with one out. Cody Ransom walked. But Dioner Navarro swung at and missed a 3-2 pitch from Putz and Montero threw out Rizzo at third to end the inning.

Pedro Stop gave up a one out single to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth. Stop struck out Hill swinging on a 3-2 pitch. Goldschmidt took off for second on the pitch and Angel Hernandez called him safe … replays showed Barney applied the tag and he was out. A 1-0 pitch to Montero got past Navarro and Goldschmidt ended up at third with two outs. Stop struck out Montero swinging at a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

The game went to the ninth with the Cubs clinging to a 3-2 lead.

Will Harris started the ninth and gave up a one-out single to Darwin Barney. Nate Schierholtz hit for Strop and reached on a broken bat, bloop single to right. Barney stopped at second.

Junior Lake stepped in and capped his night. Lake ripped a 1-1 pitch into left. Barney scored, 4-2 Cubs. Castro grounded into a 5-3 double play to end the inning.

Kevin Gregg took the hill in the ninth and retired Ross and Parra on groundouts to first. Didi Gregorius singled to center with one down. Adam Eaton smoked a 0-1 pitch toward third, Cody Ransom knocked the ball down and threw to first to end the game.

Travis Wood is scheduled to face lefty Patrick Corbin on Tuesday night.

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