Mar 4, 2014; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs catcher Eli Whiteside (32) catches in the second inning of their spring training baseball game with the Oakland Athletics at Cubs Park. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports.

Cubs conclude preseason play with 9-8 win over Arizona

A two-run single by Christian Villanueva accounted for the bulk of a three-run ninth inning that was enough to help the Chicago Cubs overcome a six-run Arizona seventh, giving the club a 9-8 win in the preseason finale Saturday afternoon.

With the bases loaded and nobody out, Villanueva delivered a clutch line drive single to left field, plating Brett Jackson and Wes Darvill and advancing Chadd Krist from first to third. After the game-tying single, Rubi Silva provided the game-winning sacrifice fly, plating Krist and giving Chicago its 15th win of the spring.

Arizona (12-13) trailed in the contest 6-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Diamondbacks offense put up a monster frame, including five base hits that led to the six runs that changed the tide of the contest in the late innings, before Chicago (15-18) rallied in the ninth.

Cubs starter Jason Hammel pitched four scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while striking out five, ending the spring with a 3.24 ERA. Jonathan Sanchez struggled in relief, allowing two runs, while right-hander Marcus Hatley was charged with five runs on five hits without recording a single out in the seventh.

Outfielder Ryan Kalish led the Cubs’ offense with a trio of base hits, as well as an RBI, ending the spring with a respectable .304 clip at the dish. Catcher Eli Whiteside also added a pair of hits in the winning effort. Arismendy Alcantara clubbed a two-run homer in the sixth off Arizona reliever Brad Ziegler – his second of the spring – accounting for the only home run in the contest.

Lendy Castillo pitched a scoreless ninth for his first – and only – save of the spring.

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