CHICAGO -- If you didn't watch the Cubs beat the Twins, 14-9, on Saturday at Wrigley Field, and just saw the final score, you're probably wondering how many home runs they hit. The answer is zero.
"Home runs are pretty cool," Albert Almora Jr. said, "but I think the way we produced runs today was also special."
Benjamin Zobrist talled three RBIs and Almora, Javier Baez and Jason Heyward each drove in two, including a tie-breaking RBI single by Heyward in the seventh inning, to spark the Cubs to victory. The Cubs totaled 20 hits, but 17 were singles.
"For those who have never experienced West Texas baseball, you just saw it today," manager Joe Maddon said of the combination of heat and hits. "That's exactly what it looked like, that's what it played like. Fortunately, we kicked the last field goal."
How hot was it? So hot that three Twins players -- Eddie Rosario, Bobby Wilson and Max Kepler -- had to leave because of heat-related illness. Almora also exited because of heat-related cramping in both of his legs. Home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt kept a wet towel around his neck the entire game. Game time temperature was 91 degrees, but the heat index by the fifth had reached 107.
"Not everybody is used to this," Baez said. "I was fine. It was really hot but where I come from, Puerto Rico. It's this hot, so I'm used to it. We just have to stay hydrated and drink a lot of water. You've got to get used to it and play it through."
The lead changed hands five times, and the two teams were tied at 9 in the seventh. Twins reliever Trevor Hildenberger walked David Bote, and he reached third on Ian Happ's double, the first extra-base hit in the game for the Cubs. Kyle Schwarber was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Heyward lined a single to left to score Bote. Baez followed with a two-run double, which proved to be enough.
"We've been talking about our offense, and we've been talking about trusting everybody in the lineup and making adjustments," Baez said. "I think everybody here is good, great players, but we have to make adjustments. It doesn't matter who it is -- it could be Barry Bonds, but when he misses, he needs to make adjustments, too. That's what we try to do every day is come to work to get better every day."
The wind was blowing in the hitters' favor.
"We can hit homers," Maddon said. "But if you work at-bats like that, that's really fun to watch."
Chicago starter Tyler Chatwood did not get a decision in his first start since June 19. The right-hander had been on paternity leave for the birth of his son, Owen, on June 24, and he had stayed in Chicago while the team was in Los Angeles for a four-game series against the Dodgers.
"It was as normal as you can be with nobody else here with you," Chatwood said.
The Cubs finished June with 16 wins, the most in a calendar month since they won 19 last September. Their record stands at 46-35 at the season's halfway point. Last year, the Cubs were 40-41 and 3 1/2 games back at the midway point.
"The big thing is if you're doing extremely well, it's nice," Maddon said. "If you're not where you want to be, don't panic. There's a lot of time left. We've played pretty well in spurts, but we still haven't played to our capabilities 100 percent yet."
Part of the reason the Cubs aren't at full capacity is because of injuries to key personnel, like third baseman Kristopher Bryant, Yu Darvish and C.J. Edwards Bryant and Edwards are expected to return this week.
"There's a lot of stuff going on that's trending in the right direction," Maddon said. "Let's get everybody on the field again."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Tip of the cap: The Cubs had a runner on third with one out in the fourth when Almora lined a ball into the gap in right-center field. Jake Cave made a nice running catch, similar to what Almora does often in the outfield. A run scored, giving the Cubs a 4-3 lead, and Almora tipped his batting helmet to Cave to acknowledge the effort.
"I've been on the other side of that," Almora said. "You did all you could in that at-bat to come through for your team. Sometimes you just need to tip your cap. It's about respect."
This is the first time the Cubs have scored at least 10 runs in three straight games since April 15-17, 2003. The Cubs now have 13 games this season with at least 10 runs, which leads the Major Leagues.
Almora had to leave the game in the fifth because of cramping in both of his legs caused by the heat. He singled in the fifth, his third hit of the game, and he was grabbing his right quad as he got to first. Maddon and athletic trainer PJ Mainville checked on Almora, but he stayed in the game. Maddon told him to jog, not run, then lifted him for a pinch-runner, pitcher Mike Montgomery. The Cubs would've taken Almora out sooner, but Montgomery needed to get the proper shoes on. Almora began the day ranked second in the National League with a .324 batting average. He went 3-for-3 and is now in first, batting .332.
HE SAID IT
"I think we're getting better and better as days go by. This was a great sign. Not hitting extra-base hits, that's special. Fourteen runs, that's awesome. I think we have a super positive attitude, and we have to keep going." -- Almora, when asked to assess the team at the halfway point
Jonathan Lester will close the series on Sunday, and he may hate to turn the calendar. Lester went 5-0 with a 1.13 ERA in five June starts, holding batters to a .155 average. He's 4-1 with a 1.25 ERA at Wrigley Field this season. The lefty picked up the win over the Dodgers in his last outing, giving up two runs over five innings. The Twins will counter with Lance Lynn, who is 6-6 with a 4.06 ERA in 18 career starts against the Cubs. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field.