Valbuena Homers, Rusin Deals, Cubs Blank the Sox – Cubs 7, White Sox 0

Spring Training Game Twenty-Five – Cubs 7, White Sox 0

WP – Chris Rusin (3-2) LP – John Danks (0-1) Save – None

wflag-pub2014Luis Valbuena and Chris Rusin stayed hot Friday as they battled for playing time and a roster spot with the big league team. Luis Valbuena (2-for-3 with two home runs and four RBI) homered twice, drove in four runs and flashed the leather while Chris Rusin tossed five innings of two-hit scoreless baseball as the Cubs shutout the White Sox on Friday afternoon in Glendale.

Chris Rusin set the tone for the afternoon with five more scoreless innings of work. Rusin has not allowed a run, or a walk, over his last three appearances in the Cactus League (12 innings). Rusin retired the side in order three times and did not allow a runner to advance past second base.

Cubs’ pitching gave up just three hits and one walk on the afternoon. And the third hit was a ball Junior Lake misplayed in center.

Alberto Cabrera, Wesley Wright, Jonathan Sanchez and Brian Schlitter followed Rusin’s lead and kept the Sox off the bases … only two runners reached base against the four Cubs’ relievers over the final four innings.

Luis Valbuena had a big day. Valbuena hit two more home runs (three home runs in last three games played, four on the spring) that accounted for four of the Cubs’ seven runs. Valbuena hit a three-run homer off of lefty John Danks in the fourth after Ryan Kalish (1-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored) singled in Mike Olt (2-for-4 with a double, a walk and a run scored) with the game’s first run. Olt reached base three times Friday and scored one of the Cubs’ seven runs.

Junior Lake (2-for-4 with a double, a RBI and a walk) had his best game of the spring at the plate. Lake doubled, walked and singled in the Cubs’ seventh run in the ninth inning.

Javier Baez (1-for-3) made an excellent defensive play of his own in the second inning and managed an infield single in three trips to the plate. Baez left the game in the sixth inning after hitting the first base bag awkwardly trying to beat out the throw from Alexei Ramirez. Baez has a right heal contusion (bruise) and is expected to play in Saturday’s game at Cubs Park against the Reds.

With Friday’s win, the Cubs improved to 11-14 in the Cactus League with one of the better all around efforts of the spring.

Scoring Plays

After Anthony Rizzo grounded out to short to start the fourth in a scoreless ballgame, Mike Olt singled to left. A wild pitch advanced Olt to second and he took third on a soft single to left off the bat of Justin Ruggiano. John Danks struck out Javier Baez swinging for the second out. But Ryan Kalish drove a 0-2 pitch into left center. Olt scored, 1-0 Cubs. Luis Valbuena followed with a long homer to right and just like that the Cubs were up 4-0. John Baker lined out to left to end the inning.

The game remained 4-0 Cubs until the seventh inning.

Luis Valbuena led off the seventh and cranked his second home run of the game. Valbuena lifted a solo home run over the wall in right off of lefty Scott Downs and the Cubs took a 5-0 lead. John Baker grounded out. Emilio Bonifacio worked a walk and while Rick Renteria was sending in minor leaguer Wes Darvill to run for Bonifacio, Robin Ventura went to his pen for Ronald Belisario. Junior Lake walked. Anthony Rizzo advanced both runners up ninety feet when he grounded out to first for the second out of the inning. Belisario uncorked a wild pitch with Olt at the plate that allowed Darvill to scamper in with the Cubs’ sixth run. Olt walked to put runners on the corners with two down for Justin Ruggiano. Belisario struck out Ruggiano swinging to end the inning.

Chris Coghlan led off the ninth with a walk. Maikel Cleto retired Darvill on a grounder to first. Coghlan advanced to second on the play. With Junior Lake at the plate, Cleto threw a wild pitch that allowed Coghlan to move up to third with one out. Ventura brought his infield in and Lake hit a 2-2 pitch back up the middle and into center. Coghlan scored, 7-0 Cubs. Rafael Lopez struck out swinging and Mike Olt lined out to left to end the inning.

The Cubs host the Reds on Saturday afternoon … Edwin Jackson versus lefty Tony Cingrani at Cubs Park.

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