Rizzo goes yard twice as Cubs eke out win over Giants

by - Senior Writer -
Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo's two home runs early on in the game made all of the difference in the Cubs' win.
Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo's two home runs early on in the game made all of the difference in the Cubs' win.

CHICAGO -- For the second consecutive game, two critical RBI by first baseman Anthony Rizzo via the long ball helped secure a win for the Chicago Cubs. Facing only three pitches from San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Moore in the early innings, Rizzo knocked two of those pitches out of the park, smacking a pair of solo shots over the wall in right field to provide the Cubs with their first two runs. Going on to win 5-4, the Cubs were sparked by a combination of Rizzo's power hitting and starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks's expert pitching in their victorious performance.

Both home runs by Rizzo erased one-run deficits for Chicago, as the Giants went up 1-0 in the opening frame and took a 2-1 lead in the second inning. In the first, San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford led off with a double in the gap between right and center. Later in the inning, Crawford scored on a fielder's choice groundout. A Giant slugger came up big in the first at-bat of the ensuing inning, too, with center fielder Denard Span hitting his third dinger of the year on a homer to right.

With the exception of Rizzo, the Cubs were lackluster at the plate through the first four innings. Rizzo's solo shots, which occurred in the second and fourth frames, ultimately resulted in a 2-2 tie being taken into the fifth, when the Cubs' bats finally caught fire. Shortstop Addison Russell started off the bottom of the fifth with an infield single to short. Using his trademark blazing speed to reach first, Russell used it again to take third on a proceeding single by catcher Miguel Montero.

As a result, Russell was able to score on a sacriice fly to center field by second baseman Javier Baez, giving the Cubs their first lead of the game at 3-2. Baez would increase that lead by way of the sacrifice in the seventh inning, with the middle infielder indirectly contributing to a Chicago run crossing the plate. Following a sacrifice bunt to the pitcher, Giants reliever George Kontos committed a throwing error that enabled Montero to score after advancing to third on the bunt.

Montero led off the bottom half of the seventh with a double, and following a walk of the next batter, Moore was pulled from the game. Credited with giving up four runs and seven hits in six innings pitched, Moore was decent on the hill but was done in by the heroics of Rizzo. Hendricks, meanwhile, was solid, allowing two runs and five hits in seven innings pitched. He struck out five and, despite his shakiness early on, was able to produce a winning start.

Of the Cubs' eight hits, four of them were of the extra-base variety. One such hit occurred in the bottom of the eighth, with Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward collecting his lone hit of the night on a triple to deep right for his second three-bagger this season. Chicago's Jon Jay pinch hit later in the inning and brought Heyward in to score on a sacrifice fly to right, putting the Cubs up 5-2.

That lead would remain intact in the ninth inning, and the Cubs earned their second win of the four-game series versus the Giants. San Francisco did not go quitely, though, as right fielder Mac Williamson hit his first home run of the year in the bottom of the ninth. Coming with a runner on first, Williamson's moonshot resulted in a nervous aura taking hold at Wrigley Field. San Francisco never seriously threatened to score again in the inning, though, and the Cubs escaped with a 5-4 win. Led by Rizzo, who finished with an impressive stat line of going 3-3 at the plate, the Cubs looked the part of a team rediscovering its winning formula from last season.

Rizzo now has 11 home runs and 28 RBI this year and has hit four home runs in the past four games. After earning the win, Hendricks stands at 4-2 overall. As for Chicago closer Wade Davis, who overcame the two-run home run to secure the Cubs' win in the ninth, he sports 10 saves on the year. The Cubs (24-21) and the Giants (20-28) will battle at Wrigley Field for the series finale tomorrow afternoon. The first pitch is slated for 1:20 PM CST at the Friendly Confines.

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