Game Thirty-One – Cubs 8, Padres 7
WP – Jon Lester (4-1) LP – Cesar Vargas (0-2) Save – Hector Rondon (7)
Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist drove in five of the eight runs, and Russell’s two-run triple in the seventh inning ended up being the difference in the game as the Cubs held off the Padres on Tuesday night at the old ballyard.
The Cubs never trailed Tuesday but it got too close for comfort in the eighth inning. Joe Maddon had to call on Adam Warren in the eighth inning with the Cubs leading 8-3 after Justin Grimm struggled and loaded the bases with one out. Warren struck out Adam Rosales swinging but Alex Dickerson launched the first homer of his career, a Grand Slam to the bleachers in right and cut the Cubs lead to one run. Warren retired Jon Jay on a grounder to second to end the eighth.
Hector Rondon was outstanding in the ninth. Rondon struck out Wil Myers and Matt Kemp for the first two outs and induced a grounder to short off the bat of Derek Norris to end the game. Rondon recorded three outs on 12 pitches for his seventh save of the season … and the Cubs 25th ‘W.’
The Cubs jumped out to an early lead and kept adding runs in a game that had very little flow. As is turned out, the Cubs needed every run the offense put on the board in the opener against the Padres.
Addison Russell (2-for-3 with a double, a triple, a walk and three RBI) and Ben Zobrist (4-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBI) led the offense Tuesday. Russell and Zobrist were a combined 6-for-7 with a double, a triple, a walk, three runs scored and five RBI. And it was Russell that drove in Zobrist to put the Cubs on the board in the second inning.
Zobrist reached with a single to right with one out in the second. Javier Baez (2-for-4) dropped down a perfect bunt to the third base side of the mound. Cesar Vargas picked up the ball and tried to throw out Baez at first, but he had no chance.
Russell drove a 1-1 pitch to right. Zobrist scored easily. Baez did not get a good jump off first. Gary Jones held Baez at third. Russell thought Baez was waived in. Russell raced to third and actually slid into the bag before he realized Baez was also there. Russell tried to get back to second base but was called out on a close play. After David Ross (0-for-2 with a walk and a sac fly RBI) walked, Jon Lester grounded out to second to end the inning.
The Cubs put a four-spot on the board in the third inning.
Dexter Fowler (1-for-3 with two walks and a run scored) led off the third with a single to center. Jason Heyward (1-for-5 with two runs scored) singled to left. Kris Bryant (1-for-5 with a double, a run scored and two RBI) stepped in and pulled a 2-1 pitch into the left field corner. Fowler and Heyward scored, 3-0 Cubs. Anthony Rizzo (1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) advanced Bryant to third with a grounder to Alexei Ramirez. Bryant trotted in when Zobrist singled to right. Javier Baez doubled to left. Russell was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out. David Ross drove a 3-1 pitch to deep right. Matt Kemp caught the ball going away, Zobrist tagged and scored, 5-0 Cubs.
The Cubs made it a 6-1 game in the fourth. Fowler walked but was erased on a 4-6 fielder’s choice. Heyward replaced Fowler at first and moved up to second when Bryant rolled out to third. Rizzo ripped a single to left on a 3-2 pitch. Heyward held at third and scored on a Zobrist single to right center.
After the Padres cut the Cubs lead to 6-3 in the fifth, Anthony Rizzo started the seventh with a walk. Zobrist singled to right. Javier Baez put the ball in play and his productive out, a grounder to first, advanced Rizzo and Zobrist to second and third. With the infield in, Russell drove a 1-0 pitch into the right field corner. Rizzo and Zobrist scored on a standup triple. Ross struck out swinging and Tommy La Stella, hitting for Pedro Strop, flied out to left for the final out in the seventh.
The Cubs scored eight runs on 12 hits and five walks.
Jon Lester was just ‘okay’ on Tuesday night. Lester struggled with putting batters away. The Padres extended several at bats in the early innings that did not result in hits but ran up Lester’s pitch count. It took Lester 60 pitches, 38 for strikes, to complete three innings.
Lester gave up his first hit of the night in the fourth inning, a two-out solo homer by Melvin Upton Jr. on a 1-2 pitch. The Padres scored two times in the fifth on doubles from Alexei Ramirez and Jon Jay. Lester needed 93 pitches to complete five innings and it appeared it would be a really short night for the lefty. Lester stayed in for the sixth and finished his night with a 1-2-3 inning.
Jon Lester was charged with three runs, all earned, on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts. Lester made 105 pitches, 67 for strikes, in six innings. Lester said after the game his curveball was ‘slurvy’ and his cutter was ‘flat.’
Trevor Cahill, Clayton Richard and Pedro Strop were used to record three outs in the seventh. A fielding error by Javier Baez loaded the bases with two outs and the Cubs clinging to a 6-3 lead. Strop made an excellent pitch to Matt Kemp and he flied out to Heyward in right center to end the inning.
Justin Grimm had a bad outing. Grimm appeared to have issues with his mechanics. Grimm had an inconsistent release point that led to poor command. Grimm opened the door for the Padres in the eighth inning that ended with four runs on one swing of the bat.
Grimm issued a free pass to Derek Norris to start the eighth with his team leading by five runs. Melvin Upton Jr. singled to left center. Grimm struck out Brett Wallace for the first out. Jose Pirela singled to right and loaded the bases with one out. Maddon made the slow walk and went to his pen for Adam Warren.
Adam Rosales struck out swinging and Warren jumped ahead of pinch-hitter Alex Dickerson. Warren made a mistake on a 0-2 pitch and Dickerson deposited the 86 mph slider into the bleachers in right center. Dickerson made it a one-run game, 8-7, with his first career home run. Warren retired Jon Jay on a grounder to Zobrist to finally end the inning.
Hector Rondon did not mess around in the ninth, 12 pitches and three outs.
As Joe Maddon says not every game can be an oil painting and that was the case Tuesday for the Chicago Cubs.
With Tuesday’s win, the Cubs improved to 25-6 on the season.
The Cubs have a long day of ball on the schedule for Wednesday. The Cubs and Padres will play two, a day-night doubleheader to make-up for Monday’s rainout. Kyle Hendricks faces Colin Rea in game one (12:05pm CDT) and John Lackey opposes lefty Drew Pomeranz in the nightcap (7:05pm CDT).