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Chicago Cubs Recap: Russell’s three-run homer lifts Cubs over Reds in home opener

Apr 11, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell (27) watches his 3 run home run during the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field. Chicago won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 11, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell (27) watches his 3 run home run during the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field. Chicago won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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After spending the first six games of the season on the road, the Chicago Cubs returned home for their 101st Opening Day game at Wrigley Field. There wasn’t much going on for the Cubbies early on but they eventually got things going during the late innings.

61. 5. 9. Final. 3

If you were unable to watch tonight’s game, you missed a good one. Veteran southpaw Jon Lester struggled early on, allowing the Cincinnati Reds (5-2) to drive in three runs over the first four innings of the ballgame but held them off until it was time for the bullpen to take over.

Lester (1-0, 2.77 ERA) started the night by giving up a leadoff single to shortstop Zack Cozart. Cozart, who had knee surgery last season, would end up leaving the game after experiencing tightness in his right quad. He was replaced by 28-year-old Ivan De Jesus Jr.

Cozart was the first player to cross home plate when second baseman Brandon Phillips grounded out to shortstop Addison Russell for the second out of the frame. Jon was having trouble finding the strike zone until speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton deposited a ball into the basket out in left field for his first home run of the season.

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The Cubs (6-1) came out swinging to start the bottom half of the inning when Dexter Fowler and Jason Heyward flew out in back-to-back at-bats. Heyward nearly had himself extra bases but left fielder Adam Duvall made a spectacular diving catch that will surely make ESPN’s Top 10.

Cincinnati’s starter, Brandon Finnegan, was red-hot tonight for the visiting team. Hats off to this young southpaw who had his change-up working as he struck out five batter’s while holding the Cubs to one hit on the night.

He was, however, charged with two earned runs after giving up a two-out single to David Ross and walking pinch-hitter Matt Szczur. This resulted in skipper Bryan Price dipped into his bullpen. Following a Fowler walk to load the bases, Heyward took advantage of the opportunity by bringing the Cubs within one on a two-run single to right field.

Right-hander Adam Warren entered the game in the eighth inning for Trevor Cahill, getting three out of four batters to ground out. And if you remember last season, the Cubs had over 10 games in which they rallied back for wins.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo pulled a slider down the right field line but it turned out to be foul. Rizzo would work the count to 2-2 until grounding out on a fifth pitch fastball, making way for Ben Zobrist and Jorge Soler to set things up.

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Zobrist took only one swing during his at-bat, taking a fifth pitch that was called outside the strike zone to draw a walk. Shortly after Soler was hit by a pitch, Russell pulled the trigger on the first pitch that was delivered by Jumbo Diaz.

The 95-miles per hour fastball was sent out to deep left field and landed in a sea of fans, giving the Cubs a two-run lead. Closer Hector Rondon made his first Wrigley Field appearance of the season and struck out the side to pick up his second save of the campaign.

It’s early but the Chicago Cubs are in first place.

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