Game Ninety – Cubs 3, Rangers 1
WP – Jason Hammel (8-5) LP – Yu Darvish (2-1) Save – Hector Rondon (15)
Anthony Rizzo delivered a two-out, two-run double in the third inning off Yu Darvish that gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead. Matt Szczur added a two-out, pinch-hit RBI single in the sixth. Jason Hammel was sharp and allowed one run in six innings. And the bullpen tossed three shutout innings as the Cubs beat the Rangers on Saturday afternoon at the old ballyard.
Jason Hammel and the bullpen stepped up with Yu Darvish on the hill and limited the Rangers to one run on three hits. Outside of one play in the second inning that led to Texas’ only run, the defense had another good day and did not give the Rangers’ extra opportunities. Addison Russell, Javier Baez, Jason Heyward and Tommy La Stella turned in excellent plays behind Hammel the pen.
The Cubs came up with two clutch hits and found a way to beat a very good starting pitcher. The Cubs did so many little things right on Saturday afternoon that led to the second straight win over the Rangers.
Anthony Rizzo (1-for-4 with a double and two RBI) stepped in with two outs and two on in the third. Miguel Montero (0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored) walked to start the inning and moved to second on a one-out single by Tommy La Stella (1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored), the Cubs first hit of the game. After Kris Bryant (0-for-4) struck out swinging, Rizzo pulled a 1-2 pitch into the right field corner. Montero scored and tied the game at one. And La Stella scored the go ahead run as Rizzo extended his hitting streak to 11 games with the two-out base knock.
The game remained 2-1 Cubs until the sixth inning.
Willson Contreras (1-for-4) reached on a swinging bunt single to third. Jason Heyward (0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) grounded into a 3-6 fielder’s choice. With Heyward at first, Addison Russell (0-for-4) lined out to right field. Miguel Montero walked, put runners on first and second with two outs … and forced Maddon to go to his bench. Matt Szczur (1-for-1 with a RBI) batted for Hammel and ripped Shawn Tolleson’s first pitch into center. Heyward scored, 3-1 Cubs.
The Cubs scored three runs on four hits and six walks. Maddon’s team struck out 12 times and was 2-for-8 with RISP while leaving eight men on base.
Jason Hammel quieted his critics for at least one afternoon. Hammel found a rhythm with Miguel Montero and completed six strong innings. The Rangers made solid contact early in the game before Hammel settled in. Hammel gave up only three hits and a walk. The Rangers scored one run on Hammel on an infield single in the second that allowed Ryan Rua to score from second base. Hammel struck out seven on 81 pitches, 52 for strikes.
Adam Warren retired the first two batters he saw in the seventh with help from two excellent defensive plays by Javier Baez at third base. Warren got squeezed on a 1-2 pitch to Ryan Rua and ended up walking the Rangers’ left fielder. Maddon went to his pen for Travis Wood with the tying run stepping to the plate. Wood caught Nomar Mazara looking at a 3-2 pitch to end the seventh.
Travis Wood retired the side in order in the eighth.
Hector Rondon made quick work of the Rangers in the ninth inning. Jason Heyward made two excellent catches (Rougned Odor, Adrian Beltre) in right battling the tough sun. Rondon recorded three outs on 10 pitches, eight for strikes.
The Rangers did not have a hit after the fourth inning … and only one baserunner after the sixth inning.
Cubs’ pitching held a very good Rangers’ offense to one run on three hits and two walks while striking out nine batters.
With Saturday’s win, the Cubs improved to 55-35 on the season.
John Lackey faces Cole Hamels in the series finale with the Rangers on Sunday afternoon (1:20pm CDT).