Avila, Contreras power Cubs to victory


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Avila cranked his first homer as a Cubs (Dennis Wierzicki - USA Today Sports)
Avila cranked his first homer as a Cubs (Dennis Wierzicki - USA Today Sports)

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs jumped on former Cubs starting pitcher Edwin Jackson early in his first start at Wrigley Field since 2014. The Northsiders won 7-4 in front of 41,857 happy fans and tied the series at 1-1 with the rubber match to be played on Sunday afternoon.

In the first inning, superstar outfielder Bryce Harper smacked a solo shot to right field for his 28th homer of the season to put the visiting team up 1-0.

However, the Cubs got the lead right back with two straight doubles by Jon Jay and Kris Bryant to tie the game at 1-1. Hot-hitting catcher Willson Contreras continued the scored with a RBI single that scored Bryant to put the Cubs up 2-1. The sharp hitting continued as newcomer Alex Avila hit his first homer as a Cubs player with a two-run shot for a 4-1 lead.

There were scoreless frames until the fourth inning when Anthony Rendon had a sacrifice fly to score Ryan Zimmerman to pull the Nationals within two runs at 4-2. Matt Weiters followed up with a RBI single to make the score a one-run game at 4-3 in the fourth inning.

Cubs veteran righty John Lackey had a decent outing receiving the win going five innings giving up six hits, three runs including two earned, a walk, and three strikeouts.

Contreras smacked a two-run homer in the sixth inning. The homer traveled an estimated 424 feet, had a 23 feet launch angle, and 103.3 MPH exit velocity. It was his 19th homer of the season to go along with 68 RBI to continue his torrid pace after the All-Star break. He impressively has 13 more RBI than any other Cubs since the All-Star break. He is currently on the pace of 28 homers and 101 RBI in his second season at the big league level. He has 11 homers in only 25 games at the cleanup position in 2017.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Contreras is one homer behind Miguel Cabrera (32) for most homers by a Venezuelan player in their first 175 major league games.

Veteran Jon Jay put the nail in the coffin in the seventh inning with a RBI single to put the Cubs up 7-3.

Rendon hustled and had a RBI groundout as a Baez throw went under Rizzo's glove in the eighth inning to put the Nationals within three runs at 7-4.

Cubs closer Wade Davis walked two batters to make things interesting but he escaped with the save as he struck out Harper to end the game. The Cubs will stay in first place in the National League Central division.

The Cubs and Nationals will play the rubber match of the three-game set at Wrigley Field on Sunday afternoon at 1:20 p.m. CDT.


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