Chicago Cubs 8, Arizona Diamondbacks 3
PHOENIX, Arizona — The Chicago Cubs (60-54) continued their final West Coast road trip of the year with a visit to Phoenix for a 3-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks (64-51), their first visit to Arizona since April of 2016. Some may remember that trip as the one where LF Kyle Schwarber’s 2016 season was effectively ended very early in the season. Friday’s game also marked their first game since Willson Contreras was placed on the 10-Day Disabled List with a hamstring injury, for which he is expected to be sidelined for at least a month. Before the game, C Victor Caratini was recalled from Iowa to take his roster spot; Alex Avila started in Contreras’ place Friday night.
The Cubs got to work early in the first, getting runners to first and third on singles by Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist, and a Kyle Schwarber walk would load the bases and prompt a first inning visit to the mound by the Arizona pitching coach. The chat didn’t seem to help Arizona starter Taijuan Walker settle in, as he walked Alex Avila to force in a run. A passed ball charged to Chris Herrmann would give the Cubs their second run of the inning. In the Diamondbacks’ first, Cubs starter John Lackey got into a bit of trouble, walking two batters to bring up Paul Goldschmidt with runners on first and second. He was able to induce a double play and avoid any damage in the frame.
The Cubs seemed poised to add on in the second, after a Jon Jay hit-by-pitch and steal set up Kris Bryant with a man on 2nd and 2 out; Bryant would single to shallow left to bring Jay around, but would be thrown out trying to stretch his hit to a double to end the inning.
The Diamondbacks wouldn’t get to Lackey until the 5th inning, when David Peralta launched a 2-run home run to bring them within a run. Kyle Schwarber would get that run back with a no-doubt home run in the Cubs’ 6th, which was followed by an Alex Avila home run off the batter’s eye in center to give the Cubs a 3-run cushion.
Overall, Lackey would leave the game with one out in the 6th (after a Goldschmidt home run), allowing 4 hits (2 home runs) and 3 walks, combined with 7 strikeouts, and was charged with 3 runs (all earned). Walker would leave after 5-plus, facing Schwarber and Avila in the 6th, allowing 5 hits (2 home runs) and 3 walks, striking out only two; he was charges with 5 runs (4 earned).
The bullpens would keep things quiet until the 8th, when the Cubs would grab 3 insurance runs, all scoring with 2 out in the inning, on singles by Javier Baez, Ian Happ, and Jon Jay, depriving closer Wade Davis of a save chance; the Diamondbacks were unable to muster anything resembling a rally, finishing the game with a series of groundouts in the 9th.
With the victory, the Cubs maintain a 1-game lead in the National League Central over the surging St. Louis Cardinals.
The series continues tomorrow night, with the game starting at 7:10 P.M. Central time.