CHICAGO -- After losing an early four-run lead, it was a lift from a pair of players looking to get going themselves that put the Cubs over the top. Addison Russell launched a go-ahead solo shot to left and Kyle Schwarber cranked another deep to right in the sixth inning
CHICAGO -- After losing an early four-run lead, it was a lift from a pair of players looking to get going themselves that put the Cubs over the top. Addison Russell launched a go-ahead solo shot to left and Kyle Schwarber cranked another deep to right in the sixth inning as the Cubs took the final game against the Rockies, 7-5, Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field to stave off the sweep and snap a seven-game Rockies winning streak.
"It was a nice win to get on an airplane to head out of town," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It's all about confidence, man. As we continue to rebuild their confidence and as they get it back, you're going to see a lot more of that."
Unlike in Game 3, it was the Cubs who pulled ahead from the jump. Anthony Rizzo hit a first-inning RBI double and Benjamin Zobrist smashed a three-run homer, all before the Cubs made the first out of the game.
Starter Jacob Arrieta looked like he was poised to hold the lead, but he ran into trouble in the fifth inning, where his day came to an end. Dealing with a small cut on his right thumb, Arrieta loaded the bases in the fifth with no outs, and then walked in a run. He got the first out of the inning, but he would exit after an RBI single from Mark Reynolds.
"It was a different game. When you have a lead like that, you don't want to relinquish the lead," said Maddon, who turned to reliever C.J. Edwards to finish off the inning. "The best guy to get a strikeout there was CJ, period. That's it."
Edwards gave up a ground-ball single to Ian Desmond for two more runs -- charged to Arrieta -- but he worked through the rest of the inning without a problem. And on a day the Cubs' offense broke out with four home runs, that was enough.
Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela battled after allowing the big first inning, though his day was a short one as well. Senzatela worked around runners on the corners with nobody out in the fourth inning -- striking out Arrieta, Jonathan Jay and Kristopher Bryant to keep the deficit at 4-0 -- but he was out of the game by the fifth.
Before the Zobrist homer in the first, much of the contact made off Senzatela was not solid.
"It was not really frustrating," said Senzatela, who must reduce a first-inning ERA that climbed to 7.62. "I just tried to make a good pitch. But I tried to go slider down in the dirt [to Zobrist], but he got me."
Of the fourth-inning escape, Rockies manager Bud Black said, "The Bryant at-bat was one of the best at-bats that he threw all year, and it was critical to keep it right there. I was so proud of him, for a young pitcher to hang in there."
Jordan Lyles would be next up to pitch, with Chris Rusin likely unavailable after throwing 32 pitches on Friday. Lyles' day was finished after allowing the two solo home runs. Lyles has given up seven home runs in 28 1/3 innings, as opposed to four homers in 58 2/3 innings as a starter and reliever in 2016.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Pitch placement: Arrieta was chased from his outing in the fifth inning after Reynolds' RBI single cut the Rockies' deficit to 4-2 with one out, but that was far from the only eventful moment of the inning. Colorado loaded the bases with no outs after Charlie Blackmon was hit by a low curveball. Initially, there seemed to be some confusion as to whether or not he was hit. The Rockies appealed to the umpires to talk about the play, and after a brief chat, Blackmon was awarded the base. Cubs manager Joe Maddon left the dugout to argue, and he wouldn't be the only one to gripe before the inning was over.
"My concern and my argument was, how could anybody out there see that the ball had hit him?" Maddon said. "Although they were right -- because I got the word from our guys that the ball had hit him -- but my argument was how could you change a play from 90 feet away?"
The Rockies walked in a run in the next at-bat, then made the first out of the inning, as right fielder Carlos Gonzalez struck out on a called strike three. He turned around and started jawing with home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson and was ejected shortly after. The Rockies would go on to string together two more singles in the inning to tie the game at four.
Sneak it in there: Russell's solo home run to put the Cubs up, 5-4, was just his fourth of the year, but it was also a rarity for a completely different reason. According to Statcast™, the shot left the bat with an exit velocity of 98.1 mph and 22-degree launch angle -- his second lowest recorded on a homer. Batted balls with those numbers have ended up as home runs just seven percent of the time in the Statcast™ era, which began in 2015.
"It was pretty big," Russell said. "It feels good to see some success a little bit. Definitely want to bask in it a little bit, but tomorrow's going to be another day."
Russell's home run was one of four hit by the Cubs on the day. Zobrist started things with his three-run shot in the first. Russell and Schwarber hit their solo shots in the sixth, while Miguel Montero hit another in the eighth.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Leading off the sixth inning in a game tied at 4, Javier Baez hit a grounder to short and raced down the line to first, appearing to beat out an errant throw by Trevor Story and tag attempt by Reynolds by just an instant. However, the Rockies would challenge the play and after a very quick review it was overturned. Reynolds administered the tag despite Baez trying to duck down as he touched first base.
LIKE A SORE THUMB
Arrieta pitched Sunday with the cut on his thumb, but he doesn't expect that to be an issue moving forward. The right-hander said he noticed the cut about a week ago, adding he didn't do any throwing between starts just to try to let it heal.
"It's close. It's almost completely healed up," Arrieta said. "Just got it to the point where it was tender to the touch. And obviously the friction between my finger and the ball, pitch after pitch, got to a point where it became a little bit of an issue."
Rockies: Lefty Kyle Freeland (7-3, 3.34 ERA), who entered Sunday's play ranking second in the National League in ground-ball rate at 59.3 percent, will start in the opener of a three-game set against the Pirates at PNC Park on Monday at 5:05 p.m. MT on MLB.TV. The game also marks the return of Pirates righty Jameson Taillon (2-1, 3.31 ERA), who is back after missing a little more than a month because of surgery to treat testicular cancer.
Cubs: The Cubs will head to New York to begin a three-game set with the Mets at Citi Field, starting Monday at 6:10 p.m. CT on MLB.TV. Cubs righty John Lackey (4-6, 5.12 ERA) will get the ball for the series opener, looking to shrug off his last outing, when he allowed five runs to the Marlins. Lackey is 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA vs. the Mets in five career starts.
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Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and** like his Facebook page**.