Cubs rally for series win against Rockies
Matt Marton - USA Today Sports

Cubs rally for series win against Rockies


by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - The Motto for the Chicago Cubs (81-74) at this point in the season should be survive and conquer. Everyone knows the Cubs have been struggling for the better part of three weeks, but they are still in a position to make the playoffs. For that to happen, this team needs to be at their best when it matters most, especially when you look at who is on the horizon.

The Cubs want to avoid getting ahead of themselves, and they are taking a one-game-at-a-time approach as they try to get back to the level they know they can play. That all started with another game against the NL Worst Colorado Rockies (56-98) as they tried to claim their first series win in five tries. To everyone's surprise, Marcus Stroman made the start in what turned out to be an opener type of game before handing the ball off to Javier Assad.

Assad was brilliant on the mound as he scattered two hits in four shutout innings with six punchouts. His effort alone gave the Cubs a chance while their offense went to work late to secure another win 6-3. As nice as it was to see Stroman back out there, the rest and conditioning still are not there, as he lasted just three innings and allowed three runs. All three came in one inning, but it put the Cubs in an early hole they needed to climb out of.

Opposing Stroman was Chris Flexon, who was making his second start in as many weeks against this team. This was also his third start of the season against the Cubs and second at Wrigley, as he was tattooed for nine earned runs in less than three innings earlier in April. Expecting to hit him hard, Flexon was much better this time around and allowed just two runs in his outing, as he did a phenomenal job keeping the Cubs offense in check.

Things got off and rolling for the Cubs immediately as Stroman retired the Rockies in order in the first while the Cubs offense went to work against Flexon. What started with a one-out single from Nico Hoerner turned into a 1-0 as Ian Happ scorched one off the right-center field wall to push across the game's first run. Seiya Suzuki nearly added to that lead with a deep fly ball that was caught at the wall to end the frame.

While the first inning was a pleasant surprise for Stroman, the second inning was not, as the Cubs right-hander struggled to get outs. Kris Bryant started the inning with a long double off the center field fence before coming home to score on the Elias Diaz single to tie things up 1-1. That single was only the beginning for the Rockies as an Ezequiel Tovar single put runners on the corners, while a wild pitch gave the Rockies a 2-1 lead.

Colorado continued to keep pressure as Brenton Doyle connected for an RBI double two hitters later to push the Rockies lead to 3-1. Those would be the lone runs off of Stroman, but little did they know it would be all the offense they would have in the game, as it would come down to their pitching in this one. For the most part, Flexon delivered, but after Miles Mastrobuoni picked up a single in the third mixed with a Hoerner walk, the Cubs had a great scoring chance only to come up empty.

Once the fourth inning rolled around, David Ross inserted his not-so-secret weapon as Assad took over from Stroman. Hoping to get some length out of Assad, the right-hander did that and a lot more, as he was about as dominant as you can be, allowing two hits in four innings with six strikeouts. That included retiring seven in a row, as the Rockies had no answers for him.

Trailing 3-1 in the fifth, the Cubs offense knew it was now or never against Flexon as he continued to do his thing on the mound. Mastrobuoni led things off with another single, as he has been one of the Cubs better hitters during this homestand. He would advance to second on a wild pitch before reaching third as the Hoerner sacrifice fly brought the Cubs within 3-2.

That turned the tide for the outcome of this one as Assad continued to dominate the Rockies offense. With Flexon out of the game in favor of Jake Bird in the sixth, the Cubs were hoping to do damage against the worst bullpen in the majors. To their credit, they did a great job against the Cubs in Colorado, and you can make a case for that being the reason the Cubs lost that series.

A leadoff single from Suzuki was the start the Cubs wanted to see, but with the next two hitters going down, Chicago was in danger of wasting another leadoff runner. Leave it to Mr. Clutch Yan Gomes to change everything as his RBI double brought things back to even 3-3 as the two teams were starting over. The Rockies bullpen continued to struggle in the seventh, with Nick Mears taking over and throwing 13 pitches against three hitters.

Unfortunately for him, 12 of those 13 were balls as Mears walked the bases loaded with no outs. In what was the Cubs best-scoring chance of the day, Cody Bellinger delivered with a sacrifice fly to give the Cubs the lead for good 4-3, but squandered an opportunity to add on even more runs to put the pressure on Julian Merryweather and the back of the Cubs pen.

For the second outing in a row, Merryweather wasn't sharp as a pair of walks, and the double from Tovar loaded the bases with one out as the Rockies had a chance to not only retake the lead, but make things hurt in the process. That is when Merryweather locked in and rediscovered himself as he responded with a pair of strikeouts to end the threat and kept the momentum in the hands of the offense.

Christopher Morel took that momentum and ran with it as he connected for his 25th homer to give the Cubs a much-needed insurance run and extended the lead to 5-3. An RBI single from Hoerner later in the inning brought home an additional run to make things 6-3 before Jose Cuas came in to seal the victory in the ninth.

With the win, the Cubs opened up a 1.5-game lead over the Marlins and Reds for that final wild card spot while also pulling within one game of Arizona. The Cubs had nine hits in the win, with Hoerner and Mastrobuoni leading the way with two. The Cubs will go for the sweep tomorrow for the Home Regular Season finale as Jordan Wicks takes the ball against Ty Blach.

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