Cubs salvage series finale win against D-backs
Matt Marton - USA Today Sports

Cubs salvage series finale win against D-backs

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - The Chicago Cubs (77-67) certainly didn't make it easy on themselves, but they did manage to maintain their wild card position on Sunday with a win over the Arizona Diamondbacks (75-69). After being unable to hit the ball during the first three games of the series, which resulted in losses, the Cubs used the long ball on Sunday to avoid the series sweep with a 5-2 win.

All it took was a three-run third inning to bust the game open, as all three runs came via the homer. That was more than enough for Kyle Hendricks, who turned in another solid start at the perfect time. Hendricks may not have gotten through six innings, but he did pitch into the sixth as he gave the Cubs 5 2/3 innings. He walked one, struck out four, and was charged with two earned runs in the much-needed win.

The Diamondbacks went with more of a bullpen day, but it essentially turned out to be an opener as Brandon Pfaadt gave the Diamondbacks six innings out of the pen, but was charged with four earned runs as the Cubs got to him early and often. It didn't take long for the Cubs to grab the lead as Christopher Morel hoped to provide a spark at the top of the lineup as he led things off with a leadoff triple.

Morel was thrown out at home on a Nico Hoerner fielder's choice shortly after, but all was not lost as Hoerner swiped his 37th base to put himself in scoring position. That paid off as Seiya Suzuki moved into the No. 3 hole and promptly laced a ground-rule double to put the Cubs in front for just the second time this series 1-0. They would never look back as they picked up the early lead and grew it from there.

With Hendricks retiring nine of the first 10 hitters he faced, including his first eight, you could tell he was dialed in as the Diamondbacks offense struggled early. The same could be said for the Cubs, but that has been the case all series. All it took was for Pfaadt to enter the game in the third, and the Cubs offense exploded in a big way.

Like in the first, Morel provided the spark the Cubs were looking for as he led off the third with a solo shot. Three batters later saw Cody Bellinger go deep for his team-leading 25th home with Dansby Swanson going back to back with Bellinger as the Cubs used three solo shots to extend their lead to 4-0. The homer by Swanson gives the Cubs four players with at least 20 homers this season, with a possible fifth on the way.

Holding their 4-0 lead into the fifth, the Diamondbacks finally figured out Hendricks as they got better swings off him. Lourdes Gurriel opened things with a leadoff double before advancing to third on an Emmanuel Rivera single. That was followed up by another single from Seby Zavala, and the Diamondbacks were on the board, trailing 4-1. Hendricks worked around that mini-jam to pick up a double play ball before Ian Happ made a sliding catch to end the inning as the Cubs led 4-1.

Already with one big inning off of Pfaadt, the Cubs were looking to make it two as Hoerner started the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff single. He would swipe his second base of the day three batters later, which set things up for Swanson to deliver another RBI knock to push the Cubs lead back to 5-1. That would be the final run of the day for the Cubs, but with Hendricks locked in, it looked to be enough.

For the second straight inning, Hendricks had his struggles as Jace Peterson led off the sixth with a single and advanced to third on a Tommy Pham double. Two batters later saw the Diamondbacks bring home another run as Alek Thomas delivered a sacrifice fly to make things 5-2. Hendricks would walk his next hitter to end his day before being replaced by Jose Cuas.

Anytime the Cubs have the lead late, it allows David Ross to go with his three-headed monster in the back of the pen, which started with Mark Leiter Jr. in the seventh. A one-out walk to Geraldo Perdermo was followed by a Corbin Carroll single, but Yan Gomes threw out Pedermo trying to steal second, which killed any potential rally the Diamondbacks had.

Typically, Julian Merryweather would be in line to pitch the eighth, but with Adbert Alzolay needing a day off, Hayden Wesneski took his chance and allowed a two-out single in, which was a solid eighth inning. That pushed Merryweather to the ninth inning as he came on to finish things off for the Cubs.

After walking Pavin Smith to start things off, Merryweather went into killer instinct mode and retired the next three hitters he faced to secure the save, including a pair via the strikeout.

“When two teams line up with similar records, it's going to be tough,” Cubs manager David Ross said after the game. “One little detail here or there is going to push it the other way. I've never seen a waver from our group at all this season.”

With the win, the Cubs avoid the sweep and manage to finish the week with a 4-3 homestand and are two games ahead of Arizona for the No.2 Wild Card spot. Swanson had a great day for the Cubs, leading the way with three hits and two RBIs. Morel added two hits as the Cubs had nine hits in the win.

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