Thursday, June 21, 2018
Sports

Cubs strike back after bad day

CHICAGO — So much for that one-day slide for the Cubs.

Three home runs and another strong starting pitching performance returned the smiles to Wrigley Field.

Addison Russell, David Ross and Kris Bryant went deep, leading Jason Hammel and the Cubs to a 9-4 victory Friday over the Pirates.

Chicago improved to a major league-best 26-8 after San Diego swept the Cubs on Wednesday in a day-night doubleheader, their first losing streak of the season.

"It's nice to have a little fun today after the panic set in," a smiling Ross said. "We lost two in a row. Now everyone can relax, we finally won one."

Russell and Ross each had three-run shot, and Bryant connected for a two-run drive. That was more than enough for Hammel, who struck out a season-best eight over 62/3 innings, giving up an earned run and eight hits.

It was the 42nd straight regular-season game a Cubs starter went at least five innings, their longest such streak since 1910.

"It sets up the whole game," manager Joe Maddon said.

Francisco Liriano surrendered all three Cubs homers in 42/3 innings. Andrew McCutchen had three hits, including a two-run homer in the ninth, but the Pirates fell eight games behind the Cubs in the NL Central.

Hammel is the most recent Cubs starter who failed to go five innings — on Sept. 26 when he lasted four in a 4-0 loss to the Pirates. Hammel felt his fastball command was key as he lowered his ERA to 1.77.

The Cubs had gone 17 innings without scoring until Russell hit a slider into the leftfield bleachers in the fourth.

"It was huge," Hammel said.

Bryant and Ross homered in the fifth, chasing Liriano. The Pirates had won all but two of his previous 23 starts, and Liriano was 4-1 in his past five starts at Wrigley Field.

"You can't make that many mistakes," Liriano said.

Pittsburgh scored two in the sixth on Ross' throwing error and Francisco Cervelli's infield single.

McCutchen homered to left off Trevor Cahill, extending his hitting streak to seven games. But the Pirates have been outscored 29-9 in four straight losses to the Cubs.

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