Cubs hit five home runs, win 11th straight
Cubs outfielder Matt Szczur came up big at the plate on Friday, hitting two home runs against the Cardinals.
CHICAGO -- With ace pitcher Jake Arrieta on the mound, the Chicago Cubs likely could have afforded to have a lackluster performance at the plate on Friday afternoon, but the North Siders did just the opposite, pummeling the rival St. Louis Cardinals 13-2. Jack of all trades outfielder Matt Szczur led the charge for the Cubs, going 3-4 with two home runs and three RBI on the day.
The Cubs led 7-1 in the top of sixth, so it was not surprising that manager Joe Maddon opted to pull Arrieta after the right-hander had thrown 105 pitches in 5.2 innings on the mound. Striking out six and giving up only one run, Arrieta earned the win for his efforts, moving him to 14-5 on the season.
After Szczur doubled to start the bottom half of the first, Chicago third baseman Kris Bryant, who went 3-5 with two RBI in the game, hit a double of his own toward the wall in left field that scored Szczur easily and put the Cubs on the scoreboard. Later in the inning, shortstop Addison Russell brought Bryant home with a double to deep center, providing the Cubs with an early 2-0 lead.
Although the double played a prominent role in the first inning, those were the only three hit by the Cubs in the game. In fact, the home run played a more prominent role overall, with Chicago hitting five of them on the afternoon.
The first long ball occurred in the bottom of the second, as Cubs rookie Willson Contreras blasted one to left-center that scored three runs, putting the Cubs up 7-0. Earlier in the inning, Szczur was scored via another Bryant double, and Bryant was then brought home on a bloop hit by right fielder Jorge Soler. Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, who has struggled as of late, was pulled after only two innings and saw his ERA rise to an unimpressive 4.72. Adding insult to injury, Wainwright earned the loss and dropped to 9-7 on the year.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, with Chicago leading 7-1 at the inception, Szczur and Soler got in on the home run action with a solo shot apiece, thus increasing the Cubs’ already sizable lead to eight runs. The Cubs added two more round-trippers to their collection in the ensuing inning, as second baseman Javier Baez, who was 2-4 in today’s afternoon affair, hit his 12th homer of the season, with Szczur blasting his fifth homer of the season, and second of the game, not long afterward. Both of them two-run bombs, the home runs provided the Cubs with a 13-1 advantage heading into the eighth.
Ironically enough, the Cardinals scored their only two runs of the day on two solo home runs, but, needless to say, they were not enough to prevent a shellacking. Arrieta’s lone blemish in the game, a fifth-inning homer by St. Louis right fielder Stephen Piscotty, marked the first time that the Cubs ace had given up a home run in a regular season game at Wrigley Field since Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard did it in July of last year.
With their 13-2 victory today, the Cubs are now 73-41 and have won 11 straight. The Cardinals, who are 60-56 and 14 games behind the Cubs in the National League Central, will look to right the ship in game three of the four-game series against the Cubs tomorrow afternoon. The first pitch will take place at 1:20 PM CST on Saturday, with Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs taking the mound to face off against Luke Weaver of the Cardinals.
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