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Cubs get bats on track with 3-homer game

Bote's jack, Murphy's single fuel key 5th against Tigers
August 22, 2018

DETROIT -- The Cubs hit a home run in their seventh straight game on Wednesday night. More importantly, two of the three blasts weren't solo shots.After getting only a solo homer in each of their previous five games, they received a welcome two-run blast by rookie David Bote, a three-run

DETROIT -- The Cubs hit a home run in their seventh straight game on Wednesday night. More importantly, two of the three blasts weren't solo shots.
After getting only a solo homer in each of their previous five games, they received a welcome two-run blast by rookie David Bote, a three-run shot by Javier Baez and a solo homer by Anthony Rizzo to post an 8-2 Interleague victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park.
Murphy collects 1st hits, RBI in Cubs debut
"We know what we have in the lineup," Baez said. "If we do the simple things and try not to rush many pitches, and knowing how other teams are going to pitch to us and have a good plan, we'll go far."
Bote connected on a slider from Tigers starter Francisco Liriano in the fifth while Baez launched his 26th homer with one out in the ninth. Rizzo followed Baez with his second home run in as many games and his 20th of the season.

Making his Cubs debut, Daniel Murphy added an RBI single in the fifth inning in his third at-bat, which ended the team's sour stretch of going 0-for-30 with runners in scoring position. Acquired on Tuesday from the Nationals for a Minor League infielder, Murphy batted leadoff and went 2-for-5.
"I thought Murph did a great job at the top of the order," manager Joe Maddon said. "I thought he had some really good at-bats all night long. He definitely set a great example for the rest of the group."

Murphy also didn't take long to feel comfortable.
"Love the guy," Bote said of Murphy. "Baseball rat, just like us. I talked to him a little there in the ninth inning, just scratching the surface of hitting and approach and what he's got. I'm so excited he's with us. First impressions have been outstanding."
Jonathan Lester scattered seven hits over 5 2/3 innings for the win, his second since the All-Star break. He was lifted after an eight-pitch at-bat by Victor Martinez for the second out in the Tigers' sixth with two on. Steve Cishek replaced Lester and got Michael Mahtook to ground out to first to end the inning.

Lester wasn't too happy about being removed from the game -- and it showed in his face as Maddon went to the mound. But the pitcher understood it.
"As a competitor, you're not always going to like the decisions of your boss," Lester said. "That's nothing against Joe. I respect the hell out of Joe. He's done a great job managing our team since he's been here. As a competitor, I don't have to like the decision. It doesn't mean I don't respect our manager and what he's trying to do. He's trying to win a baseball game and if he feels that's the time to make the move, that's the time to make the move."
Maddon has seen worse.
"If you can withstand John Lackey's stare, you can withstand almost any stare," Maddon said. "It's like the different levels of laser beams."
Lester has made some mechanical as well as pitch selection adjustments in his last three outings. It's working.
"The biggest thing is getting my fastball to the angle that it should be so you're seeing the missed hits and foul balls, and swing and misses on it," Lester said. "I'll keep working on that."

The Cubs have been in an offensive funk and are hoping Murphy can provide an boost. He was batting .324 this month, while the Cubs were batting .239 collectively, and .147 with runners in scoring position this month.
"Lack of hitting is just as contagious as hitting is," Maddon said.
Maybe more rest will help. Thursday marks the start of what Maddon likes to call American Legion week, when players are told to arrive late to the ballpark. Wednesday was the second game of a stretch of 23 in a row for the Cubs, who are 6-6 in their last 12 games and have a 2 1/2-game lead in the National League Central.
"It's been weird -- we come home with a .500 road trip in spite of scoring five runs in five games," Maddon said. "You've got to look for the silver lining in a situation like this. ... I think tonight is more indicative of how we can play, so let's move it forward."
Familiar face: On Aug. 12, Bote smacked a walk-off grand slam for a win over the Nationals. The rookie had hit two singles since before ending an 0-for-18 stretch with his home run. Bote now has four home runs -- and half of them are against Liriano. He also homered against the lefty on July 4 at Wrigley Field.
"He's a good pitcher," Bote said. "He's done this for a long time. I got a good pitch there. I doubt he was trying to throw a two-strike slider there. I was able to capitalize on it. He made that mistake there and I was able to get it."
Big boppers: With two on and one out in the ninth against Victor Alcantara, Baez fouled a pitch off his left leg and fell to the ground in pain. He took the next pitch, and then he launched the third into the Cubs' bullpen in left for a three-run homer. He now has 92 RBIs, tied for first in the National League with the Reds' Eugenio Suarez. When Rizzo followed with his homer, it marked the third time this season the Cubs have hit back-to-back homers.

"I don't want to get hurt," Baez said. "If that works, good. He has a big sinker and that first pitch, I was going for it and it got me real good. After that, I was surprised he threw me another fastball." More >
Since 2016, Lester now has 41 starts of at least five innings in which he's given up one or fewer runs. That's the most among Major League pitchers, ahead of Chris Sale (37 starts), Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer (36 each).

"It was my maiden voyage. I've never experienced that before." -- Murphy, on the Cubs' raucous postgame celebration after a win
Left-hander Cole Hamels (3-0, 0.72 ERA with the Cubs) will start the opener of a four-game series against the Reds at 7:05 p.m. CT on Thursday. This will be Hamels' fifth start for the Cubs and his second at Wrigley Field. He has given up two earned runs over 25 innings in his four previous outings. He has not faced the Reds since 2016 and is 10-1 with a 1.93 ERA in 15 starts against them. The Reds will counter with Anthony DeSclafani (6-3, 4.12 ERA).

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.