The Chicago Cubs (21-12) have earned at least a split in their four-game road series against the Arizona Diamondbacks (12-20), thanks to yet another late comeback victory. Ian Happ hit a game-tying home run against former Cub Héctor Rondón and Kris Bryant hit the game-winner in the 9th, giving the Cubs a 5-4 win, via MLB The Show 20.
Jon Lester went to the mound for the Cubs in Arizona looking to build on his recent string of successful starts. Opposing him was D-Backs right-hander Zac Gallen, who has not pitched well so far this season. Unfortunately for the Cubs, Gallen was able to wiggle around some trouble and get through five innings with a lead.
The Cubs scored first, however, with Bryant starting the top of the 1st with a clean single to left field. Anthony Rizzo walked to move Bryant to second and a Willson Contreras flyout to right field moved him over to third. Kyle Schwarber hit a deep fly to right-center that Starling Marte made an outstanding play on, robbing Schwarber of at least a triple. But it was good enough to score Bryant on a sacrifice fly, putting the Cubs ahead 1-0.
The D-Backs would get it back in the 2nd, when a sac fly from Carson Kelly tied the game. They got two more off of Lester when a single by Marte and walks to Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar loaded the bases with two outs. Kelly was again the culprit, lining a single up the middle to take a 3-1 lead.
The Cubs pulled to within 3-2 in the top of the 4th on a sacrifice fly from David Bote to score Contreras, but they otherwise wasted a bases-loaded, one-out scoring opportunity. They’d waste another great scoring opportunity in the 5th, when a walk to Lester and a single by Bryant would create a first-and-third, nobody out situation.
Lester went just five innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and four walks with three strikeouts. Gallen, on the other side, also went five and allowed two earned runs on three hits and six walks – including two to Lester – while striking out four.
David Peralta tagged Rowan Wick for an RBI double in the 6th, scoring Nick Ahmed all the way from first base and making the score 4-2. The Cubs, of course, would come back. Bryant hit a one-out double in the 7th and scored on an Rizzo single down the right field line to pull within one run at 4-3. That would still be the score when Ian Happ stepped up to the plate to lead off the 8th inning against Rondón.
Happ’s home run tied the game and a scoreless inning of relief from Jeremy Jeffress allowed it to remain tied heading to the 9th. Bryant was first up to face Rondón, who was beginning his second inning of work, and the slugger launched a fastball deep over the wall that splashed down into the pool for a home run. The Cubs now were ahead 5-4 with Craig Kimbrel warming up in the bullpen.
The one run is all Chicago would need, as Kimbrel was once again lights-out. He faced just three batters, recording one strikeout and finishing off his 14th save and yet another Cubs win.
Notes: Jason Kipnis, who has struggled so far in his first season with the Cubs (.112 batting average), was put on the 10-day IL after the game with a sore right ankle. Top prospect Nico Hoerner was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to take his place on the roster after hitting .286/.329/.403 with one home run in 77 at-bats with the I-Cubs.
Bryant – 4-for-5, 3 R, 2B, HR, RBI
Contreras – 1-for-4, R, 2B
Happ – 1-for-3, 2 BB, HR, RBI
Lester – 0-for-0, 2 BB
Peralta – 2-for-5, 2B, RBI
Kelly – 2-for-3, BB, 3 RBI
Rojas – 2-for-5, 2B
Winning Pitcher – Jeffress (2-1)
Losing Pitcher – Rondón (1-1)
Save – Kimbrel (14)
Home Runs – Bryant (12), Happ (5)