Right-hander Jason Hammel threw seven strong innings, third
baseman Mike Olt hit his team-leading fourth home run, and the Cubs
won consecutive games for the first time this season with a 9-2 win
Tuesday over the struggling Diamondbacks.
Arizona has lost four straight and 10 of 11 to plummet to 13 games
While neither team is in contention, the Cubs got positive
contributions from Hammel and Olt.
Hammel began the day with baseball's lowest WHIP at 0.73, and he
continued his strong first month with the Cubs. During those seven
innings, Hammel (3-1) allowed four hits and one run while striking
out four, bouncing back from his April 16 loss to the Yankees.
"Very nice job. Got some groundball double plays when he needed to.
Made some pitches when he needed to," Cubs manager Rick Renteria
said. "He did a very nice job. It was pretty efficient."
Hammel threw 109 pitches and didn't walk anybody.
"You get yourself into a lot of trouble if you don't throw strikes,"
Hammel said. "Honestly, tonight I kind of battled through it. Didn't
really have command of the two-seamer, so I had to use the
four-seamer a lot tonight. It's simple math — if you don't let
anybody on base you don't have to worry about giving up runs."
Hammel also didn't have to worry about support thanks to Olt and a
Cubs offense that scored a season-high nine runs.
Olt's home run — a three-run blast in the fifth off Diamondbacks
starter Brandon McCarthy — helped the Cubs win two straight for the
first time since Sept. 9-10 against Cincinnati. Along with Olt's
home run, second baseman Luis Valbuena had two hits and scored three
times while right fielder Nate Schierholtz and center fielder Justin
Ruggiano had two RBIs for Chicago, which scored four times in the
fifth and eighth and won back-to-back games at Wrigley Field for the
first time since Sept. 4-6 against Miami and Milwaukee.
With a win Wednesday or Thursday, the Cubs can clinch their first
series of the season and their first since taking two of three from
the Reds on Sept. 9-11, a span of 11 series.
Olt has been limited by a right shoulder problem and a platoon, but
Renteria said Olt will get more playing time. And based on Tuesday,
he seems ready for the increase.
"I've been working a lot," Olt said. "Extra work, just making sure I
can take as many reps as I can to get as comfortable as I can, and
when I get in there that's my main goal, is stay comfortable and it
has been working."
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Not much has been working for Arizona.
Other than catcher Tuffy
Gosewisch's sixth-inning solo home run, the scuffling Arizona
offense didn't do much to help McCarthy. McCarthy (0-4) went five
innings and allowed seven hits and five runs (one earned) and struck
out a season-high six. His night was undone by four unearned runs in
the fifth, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 5-0 hole.
"We didn't mount any pressure again offensively," Diamondbacks
manager Kirk Gibson said.
They could have used some after the fifth, when the Cubs scored four
times after second baseman Martin Prado's one-out error on an
Anthony Rizzo grounder helped the Cubs blow the game open. It
culminated with the Olt homer and extended Arizona's miserable start
to the season.
"I've been on a few bad teams, but (the frustration is) usually was
spaced out with some positivity and ... some rays of hope," McCarthy
said. "This is just a different animal right now."
NOTES: Cubs president Theo Epstein said the team has been "plucky"
so far but bemoaned its bullpen and offensive issues. As for
Wednesday's 100th anniversary of the first game at Wrigley Field
reminding him of the franchise's title drought, he said, "I don't
think I really need that kind of a reminder." ... OF Mark Trumbo was
out of the Arizona lineup because of a sore left foot. "It just got
sore in the game last night late in the game," Arizona manager Kirk
Gibson said. "Something that popped up, just kind of sore so we'll
take it easy." ... RHP Jake Arrieta will likely get one more rehab
start before returning to the Cubs. Arrieta hasn't pitched in the
majors this season because of right shoulder tightness, and had his
fourth rehab appearance Monday, allowing five runs — three earned — and five hits over 5 2/3 innings. ... Wednesday's pitching
matchup is Arizona LHP Wade Miley (2-2, 4.35 ERA) against Chicago
RHP Jeff Samardzija (0-2, 1.29 ERA).
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