CHICAGO -- Alex Avila belted a two-run walk-off single with one out in the 10th inning to power the Cubs to a 6-5 victory over the Blue Jays and complete a sweep of the Interleague series.The Blue Jays had scored twice in the 10th, including the go-ahead run on Kevin
CHICAGO -- Alex Avila belted a two-run walk-off single with one out in the 10th inning to power the Cubs to a 6-5 victory over the Blue Jays and complete a sweep of the Interleague series.
The Blue Jays had scored twice in the 10th, including the go-ahead run on Kevin Pillar's RBI single.
"We never feel like we're out of it," Kyle Schwarber said of the Cubs, who posted their fifth walk-off win this year and second this week.
Schwarber struck out to start the 10th against Roberto Osuna, but he reached first on a wild pitch that skipped to the back wall. Schwarber got to third on Benjamin Zobrist's single and then scored on a wild pitch. Anthony Rizzo grounded out, and Osuna struck out Javier Baez, but the ball got away from catcher Raffy Lopez, who simply held onto it, allowing Baez to reach first on a fielder's choice.
"I was checking the runner and just made a bad throw and had to adjust my feet," Lopez said. "I didn't get my body in the best position to turn and throw to first."
Baez stole second, and Jason Heyward was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Avila then lined a single to right, driving in Zobrist and Baez for the win.
"Sometimes over the course of the year, when you're a team trying to get to the playoffs, you have to win crazy games like that that you shouldn't necessarily win," Avila said.
In the Toronto 10th, Josh Donaldson reached on an infield single that Baez knocked down. One out later, Donaldson moved up on an errant throw by Avila to Koji Uehara, who was activated from the disabled list on Sunday after missing 10 games with a neck strain.
Jose Bautista was intentionally walked, and one out later, Pillar lined a 2-2 pitch from Uehara to right field. Donaldson scored despite a throw home from Heyward. Justin Wilson took over and walked Ryan Goins and then Norichika Aoki to force in a run.
The Cubs have a two-game lead in the National League Central over the Brewers, and the Blue Jays are five games behind the Angels and Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot.
Albert Almora Jr.'s three-run double in the Chicago third opened a 3-0 lead, but the Blue Jays battled back and tied the game on Miguel Montero's solo home run with one out in the sixth. Montero looked right at home against his former team, hitting a double with one out in the second. His homer was the Blue Jays' only one of the series.
Montero connected against Kyle Hendricks, whom he caught when he was with the Cubs, and the two exchanged good-natured text messages after the game.
"Those were bad pitches," Hendricks said. "He's a good hitter, he can hit mistakes."
Both starters -- Hendricks and Toronto's Marco Estrada -- posted quality starts, giving up three runs each over six innings, but neither got a decision. Hendricks remained winless since returning from the disabled list on July 24 (right hand tendinitis).
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
When left is right: Usually, Almora starts against left-handed pitchers because of his .348 batting average against them. But the Cubs liked the matchup against Estrada, and it paid off in the third. In his first at-bat for the Cubs, Rene Rivera reached on an infield single, and Jonathan Jay was hit by a pitch to set up Hendricks, who bunted toward third. Estrada fielded the ball, but his throw pulled Justin Smoak off first, and the bases were loaded. Almora, who came into the game batting .250 against right-handers, then cleared them with a double down the left-field line to open a 3-0 lead.
Misstep: Smoak doubled to open the Blue Jays' fourth and scored on Bautista's single to center, although he got a break when first baseman Rizzo slipped. Almora threw the ball in from center to Rizzo, who cut it off and tried to throw home. But Rizzo lost his footing, and his throw was off the mark.
"That's the American League East stuff that I've seen for a long time. There's a lot of grinders on that side. I really appreciate how they played. For us to beat them -- they'd just come off a pretty good series and they were winning close games, and the fact we beat them close, I like that." -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon, on sweeping the Blue Jays
"He definitely took too much time. Nobody feels worse than Lopie. He's played very good for us back there along the way. But you get a couple of strikeouts and you get a couple of outs on them, who knows how it develops in the end. He's a great kid. ... No one feels worse than he does." -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, on Lopez's delayed throw to first in the 10th
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Donaldson made his first career start at shortstop and became the first player to start a game at catcher in his debut season and then start a game at shortstop at any point in his career since Montreal's Ron Brand in 1971. More >
Blue Jays center fielder Pillar made an amazing catch to rob Kristopher Bryant of a potential extra-base hit. With one out in the Chicago seventh, Bryant lofted a 3-1 pitch to the center-field wall. Pillar jumped up against the ivy-covered brick wall and made the catch, then tumbled to the ground. More >
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Blue Jays had a runners at first and third and nobody out in the fifth when Ezequiel Carrera hit a grounder to second baseman Zobrist, who threw to shortstop Baez for the force at second. Baez then threw to first and Carrera was called out, but the Blue Jays challenged the ruling. After a review, the call stood, and Carrera was out. A run did score on the play.
With one out in the Toronto ninth, Davis walked Goins, and he advanced on Aoki's comebacker to the pitcher. Steve Pearce walked, and Lopez then contended he was hit on the left foot by a pitch from Davis. Home-plate umpire Andy Fletcher didn't agree, and after a crew-chief review, the call stood. Davis struck out Lopez to end the inning.
Blue Jays: The Blue Jays will enjoy an off-day on Monday before opening a three-game series against the Rays at Tropicana Field on Tuesday. Rookie right-hander Chris Rowley will take the mound in the series opener, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET. This will be the third start of Rowley's big league career and the second time he has faced Tampa Bay.
Cubs:John Lackey will face the Reds and Homer Bailey again on Tuesday when the Cubs open a three-game series in Cincinnati. Lackey did not get a decision in his last outing against them on Aug. 16 despite giving up one run over six innings. First pitch will be 6:10 p.m. CT.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
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.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.