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Cubs pounce early, pile on to deny D-backs

August 11, 2017

PHOENIX -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon wants his team to find ways to score runs without relying on the long ball, and Friday night they heeded his call, and threw in a couple homers, too, in an 8-3 win over the D-backs at Chase Field.It was a good win for

PHOENIX -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon wants his team to find ways to score runs without relying on the long ball, and Friday night they heeded his call, and threw in a couple homers, too, in an 8-3 win over the D-backs at Chase Field.
It was a good win for the Cubs, who learned earlier in the day that catcher Willson Contreras will be sidelined at least four weeks with a strained right hamstring.
"It's nice to see everyone step up when someone goes down," Chicago's Kristopher Bryant said. "It's always been that way here, and it's kind of awesome to see."

Chicago took advantage of a rocky first inning by D-backs starter Taijuan Walker to draw a pair of walks and score two runs despite hitting just one ball out of the infield. The Cubs added a run in the second, thanks in part to a hit by pitch, to stake John Lackey (10-9) to a 3-0 lead.
The D-backs rallied for a pair of runs in the fifth on a two-run homer by David Peralta, but the Cubs got those runs back in the top of the sixth when Kyle Schwarber and Alex Avila hit back-to-back homers.
"That was large," Maddon said of the homers. "[The D-backs] were getting back in the game and then 'Schwarbs' and Avila put them back on their heels a little more. That was a nice answer."
Avila provides lift after Cubs lose Contreras
Paul Goldschmidt's homer in the bottom of the sixth chased Lackey, who now leads the National League in home runs allowed with 29.

"We had some opportunities early offensively," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "John Lackey made some big pitches when he had to and got out of some early messes and we couldn't capitalize on some key moments. I think he gets better when he gets backed into a corner and he made some pitches against some really good hitters."
Hopes of a D-backs comeback faded quickly in the eighth as the Cubs collected four singles and a walk to score three insurance runs. The inning was highlighted by Javier Baez running through a stop sign and scoring from first base on Ian Happ's base hit to right. According to Statcast™, Baez's dash home was timed in 9.43 seconds, second fastest by a Cubs player this year.

Did Baez run through the stop sign from third base coach Gary Jones?
"Of course he did," Maddon said.
"When the ball was hit," Baez said, "I didn't know where it was, and I was going full speed and I was getting ready to look down for the base and saw 'Jonesy' waving me and right after I passed the base, I saw him with his arms up. I was like, 'I can't stop.' I went with all I have. I stopped a little bit but I kept going."
With the win, the Cubs maintained a one-game lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central.
Getting Goldy: After his teammates spotted him a two-run lead, Lackey walked a pair in the bottom of the first inning and it looked like the D-backs might put up a crooked number with Goldschmidt stepping to the plate with one out. Lackey, though, got Goldschmidt to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
"It took me a second to get the fastball command," Lackey said. "I was obviously a little off. I really found one of my better sliders of the year and I rode that for a while and felt pretty good."
When Maddon came out to pull Lackey in the sixth, the manager got a little bit of an argument from his starter. Maddon expected that.
"He did his job and had great stuff," Maddon said. "My message to him was that by not throwing too many pitches now, he's going to be strong the rest of the year. He's been throwing well, you've seen the uptick in velocity, and better break on the breaking ball."

Sticking with him: Walker finished the top of the fifth having thrown 100 pitches, and even though Chris Herrmann reached on an infield single with one out, Lovullo elected to let Walker hit for himself, and he bunted a two-strike pitch foul for the second out. Then in the top of the sixth, Walker allowed back-to-back homers to start the frame. More >
"We were trying to get him through that sixth inning and set some things up for our bullpen that was maybe a little thinned out," Lovullo said. "But unfortunately made some mistakes that inning and basically was the difference in the ballgame."

"We worked good at-bats, used the middle of the field, came through in RBI situations -- not a bad formula." -- Maddon on the Cubs' offensive approach
Goldschmidt has now hit four home runs in his last two games against the Cubs.
Cubs:Jonathan Lester will start on Saturday night. The lefty is 3-0 with a 3.03 ERA since the All-Star break. The question is, who will catch him? With Willson Contreras sidelined, either Avila or rookie Victor Caratini will be behind the plate. First pitch will be at 7:10 p.m. CT.
D-backs:Patrick Corbin will get the start Saturday at 5:10 p.m. MST against the Cubs. The left-hander was roughed up by the Cubs on Aug. 1 at Wrigley Field when he allowed eight runs (seven earned) on 10 hits in just three innings.
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Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

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