Cubs rally for rivalry win against White Sox
David Banks - USA Today Sports

Cubs rally for rivalry win against White Sox

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO—Despite the Chicago Cubs (30-31) struggling for the better part of a month, they are far from out of it, and the next three weeks could determine the end of their season. The next 22 games will pit the Cubs against teams with losing records, giving them a great opportunity to rally off some wins.

That all started with the Chicago White Sox (15-46) on Tuesday as they came to Wrigley Field to kick off the annual Crosstown Classic. Despite being on another long losing streak and having the worst record in baseball, the White Sox gave the Brewers all they could handle over the weekend, so coming into the game, the Cubs knew they couldn't take them lightly.

After breaking out the bats for five runs in the fourth inning to take a 5-0 lead, the Cubs found themselves playing catchup as another significant error led to a massive inning. Following a short rain delay, the Cubs' offense came to life late, scoring seven times in the final three innings to rally for the 7-6 victory.

Looking to bounce back from the worst start of his career, Shota Imanaga took the ball against Chris Flexon in hopes of bouncing back. Imanaga got off to a blazing start out of the gate as he held the White Sox scoreless through three innings. Then came the fourth when the Sox started putting together some solid contact, resulting in five runs off the left-hander. Only one of those runs was earned, so the final line doesn't look terrible as Imanaga went 4 1/3, allowing five runs (1ER) on seven hits.

Despite his struggles most of the season, Flexon came out strong and was pitching one of his best games of the season through five innings. Flexon scattered just three hits through five innings, allowing just one run and striking out four as it was all White Sox early. With neither team doing much of anything in the first three innings, it was a pair of singles from Andrew Vaughn and Luis Robert to begin the fourth that had the Sox in business.

That led to the game's first run, as a misplay from Christopher Morel at third resulted in an RBI fielder's choice to put the Sox in front 1-0. Morel's defense was a massive question mark to begin the season, and although it has been better than advertised, he is still one of the worst defensive third basemen in the game, which showed up at the worst time on Thursday.

It's amazing how one play can drastically alter a great outing. That error opened the floodgates for the White Sox. Korey Lee connected for an RBI double to extend the lead to 3-0, and Lenyn Sosa took Imanaga deep for his first homer of the season to put the Cubs in a 5-0 hole. Outside of that, their offense didn't do much. With the Cubs scoreless through four, it was looking as if the five runs would hold up.

All it took for the Cubs offense to get going was a brief rain delay as Ian Happ led the bottom of the fifth off with a double. After looking lost at the plate for two months, Happ has been the team's best hitter the past 12 games as he came around to score on the Dansby Swanson double to make things 5-1.

With Tyson Miller battling through a jam in the sixth to keep the White Sox off the board, Pedro Grifol went to his pen in the sixth and called on Justin Anderson to take over for Flexon. This was the critical moment of the game for either side as the Cubs bats started to show signs of life and hit the ball all over the yard. All the damage done in that inning came with two outs as a hit-by pitch to Cody Bellinger extended the inning before Morel made up for his error with a two-run shot to pull the Cubs within 5-3.

That forced the Sox to go with Tanner Banks out of the pen, and with Happ extending the inning with a single, the Cubs weren't yet finished as a pinch-hit blast from Patrick Wisdom sent Wrigley into a frenzy and tied this game up at five. The back-and-forth affair continued into the seventh when Hayden Wesneski made one bad pitch to Robert, who promptly hit a ball that hadn't landed yet to give the Sox a 6-5 lead. His homer was the final run of the day for the Sox, but the Cubs still found themselves down a run entering the eighth.

Following a one-out walk from Bellinger, Morel connected for a single as the Cubs had the tying run in scoring position. Hoping for a rare big hit, Happ delivered as he connected for a massive RBI double off Justin Leasure to give the Cubs a 7-6 lead entering the ninth, and Hector Neris came in to close things out.

Although things haven't been pretty for Neris in most outings, he has been looking much better the past month and has locked down the closer role for the Cubs for the time being. Neris did walk a batter, but came away with a massive pickup to kill the rally and closed things out for the Cubs in the win. The Cubs had eight hits in the game, with Happ leading the way with three hits and Morel adding two.

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