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Chicago rivals combine for 6 HRs, Cubs win

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Cubs and White Sox staged a crosstown home run derby on Thursday night, with the north side squad coming out on top. Anthony Rizzo smacked a solo homer, and Kyle Schwarber added a two-run shot, a solo blast and an RBI triple to power the Cubs to a 6-3 Interleague victory over the White Sox and take the crosstown series, 3-1.

Jose Abreu and Willy Garcia homered for the White Sox off Cubs starter Jon Lester, who scattered four hits over seven innings and struck out four for his third straight quality start. Abreu added a solo shot off Koji Uehara in the ninth.

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CHICAGO -- The Cubs and White Sox staged a crosstown home run derby on Thursday night, with the north side squad coming out on top. Anthony Rizzo smacked a solo homer, and Kyle Schwarber added a two-run shot, a solo blast and an RBI triple to power the Cubs to a 6-3 Interleague victory over the White Sox and take the crosstown series, 3-1.

Jose Abreu and Willy Garcia homered for the White Sox off Cubs starter Jon Lester, who scattered four hits over seven innings and struck out four for his third straight quality start. Abreu added a solo shot off Koji Uehara in the ninth.

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"The White Sox played their butts off, and they're a different team than they were two weeks ago, and you've got to give them credit for all the stuff they've done," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the crosstown rivals, who are in rebuilding mode, having made several trades, including sending Jose Quintana to the north side.

"We're playing a different group of White Sox than we might have played two or three weeks ago," Maddon said. "We probably caught them at the right time based on what they have going on organizationally."

With the win, the Cubs improved to 11-2 since the All-Star break, a season-high seven games over .500, and now have a 1 1/2-game lead over the Brewers heading into a weekend series in Milwaukee. They were 5 1/2 games behind the Brewers at the break.

"We knew going through everything that we were going through [in the first half], the division was still up for grabs," Schwarber said. "Now that we've gotten off to this kind of start, it's good. It's easy when things are going good."

Rizzo launched his 24th home run leading off the fourth and Schwarber added his first of the game two batters later; both came off White Sox starter Mike Pelfrey, who lasted five-plus innings. Of the six home runs, Abreu's was the longest, as it traveled 454 feet to left.

Video: CHC@CWS: Schwarber clubs a two-run big fly to left

The White Sox dropped to a season-high 21 games under .500 and have lost 12 of their last 13 games, with a 1-11 mark since the break.

"I don't know if anybody likes getting their butt kicked, whether it's a close game, blowout or respectable," Pelfrey said. "Our mindset doesn't change. We show up every day to win, and obviously we haven't been doing that as much as we'd like lately. Hopefully, we'll figure it out and these guys will end up being better in the long run."

Video: CHC@CWS: Pelfrey retires Bryant with a strikeout

Rizzo finished the four-game home-and-road series 7-for-14 with two doubles, a home run and five RBIs. The Cubs will take home the Crosstown Cup trophy for the first time since sweeping the season series in 2013.

"Whenever you get to play this series and have the fans come out and pack both stadiums like that, it's a good environment," Schwarber said. "It was a lot of fun this series, and well played by both teams."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Welcome back: Willy Garcia, promoted from Triple-A Charlotte to take the roster spot of the injured Avisail Garcia, made a nice running catch of Kris Bryant's fly ball in the right-field corner to end the Cubs' third. Willy Garcia then led off the White Sox half with his second home run of the season. The blast had an exit velocity of 102 mph and traveled 405 feet to left-center. This is the third time he's been called up from the Minors this season.

Video: CHC@CWS: Willy retreats to the wall to make the grab

Welcome back, Part II: Willson Contreras walked in the fourth to set up Schwarber's first home run of the game. Schwarber added an RBI triple in the sixth, his second career triple and first since his first Major League hit, on June 17, 2015. Schwarber's second blast came in the eighth off Aaron Bummer, who was making his MLB debut. The second homer was his 17th of the season and set a career high. (He hit 16 in 2015.) After batting .178 to start the season and being demoted to Triple-A Iowa to work on his hitting, Schwarber now is 10-for-36 since All-Star break, with four home runs and seven RBIs.

Video: CHC@CWS: Schwarber brings home Contreras with triple

What's the difference?

"Wherever the hits come, they come," Schwarber said. "I'm not worried if it's left-center, right center, right, left, whatever it is. I just want to worry about putting the barrel on the ball and having good, consistent contact." More >

Video: CHC@CWS: Schwarber on his confidence after big night

QUOTABLE
"The big question is, how does it feel to hand over the Cup? Not very good. Not very good." -- White Sox manager Rick Renteria, in his first comments to start the postgame news conference

"It's invigorating. I understand it. The first time I got that chance was in 2002 [with the Angels]. Once you get a taste [of the playoffs], nothing else satisfies. You don't want to be cooking steaks in the backyard. You've got to stay motivated." -- Maddon, on competing for a postseason berth

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Schwarber's performance marked the first two-homer, one-triple game by a Cubs player since Bryant did so on July 7. Before that the last two Cubs to accomplish this were Todd Walker in 2004 and Shawon Dunston in 1989.

Lester improved to 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA over his last three starts; Cubs starting pitchers are 10-0 with a 2.50 ERA in the season's second half.

"I like to think ... we've got a chain going," Lester said. "We're pitching well. We're playing well in all aspects of the game. We're doing everything pretty solid right now, which is good. Hopefully, we can continue that and keep going."

Video: CHC@CWS: Lester fans four over seven strong innings

Statcast™ BLAST
Abreu's homer off Lester in the fourth traveled an estimated 454 feet, according to Statcast™, making it the longest home run Abreu has hit at Guaranteed Rate Field since Statcast™ was introduced in 2015. That ties Avisail Garcia for the longest homer at the White Sox home park since 2015, and gives Abreu the third-longest homer in his career and second-longest this season.

"I think I'm just blessed with health," said Abreu through interpreter Billy Russo. "I've been healthy the whole year, and I'm blessed because of my family and all the stuff that happened to me. I'm just blessed." More >

Video: CHC@CWS: Abreu clubs two homers against the Cubs

WHAT'S NEXT
Cubs: Quintana will make his third start for the Cubs on Friday when they open a three-game series against their National League Central rivals, the Brewers. Quintana is 2-0 so far, including his stellar debut game against the Orioles, when he struck out 12. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT from Miller Park.

White Sox: Derek Holland takes the mound on Friday night at Guaranteed Rate Field as the White Sox return to American League Central action against the Indians with a 7:10 p.m. CT first pitch. Holland is 1-6 with a 8.18 ERA, 17 home runs allowed and a .337 opponents batting average over his last 10 starts.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.