Chicago Cubs again ride big first inning to win over rival White Sox

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras both homered as the Chicago Cubs cruised to another lopsided win over the Chicago White Sox Saturday at Wrigley.

For the second time in as many days, the Chicago Cubs followed the same formula for success. Score early and often – pair that with good pitching – and throw on some insurance runs late just for good measure.

Chicago (21-15) got to White Sox starter James Shields right away after Jon Lester turned in a scoreless top of the first. Javier Baez led off the bottom of the frame with a triple into the right field corner. After a tremendous at-bat from Kris Bryant that culminated in a walk, Anthony Rizzo unloaded for a three-run blast.

Later in the inning, infielder David Bote lined a ball to left, adding the fourth and final tally of the frame. Since rejoining the Cubs from Triple-A Iowa, Bote has five RBI. Chicago added another run off Shields in the second via a Willson Contreras single to make it 5-0.

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And, despite a lengthy two-plus hour rain delay, Jon Lester got the job done. He turned in 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball, keeping the Sox off the board until the sixth. On the afternoon, he scattered four hits, walked three and struck out five. In the process, the 34-year-old lefty lowered his earned run average to 2.66.

With two men on in the sixth, Maddon went to the pen, ending Lester’s afternoon. Southpaw Justin Wilson came on and induced an inning-ending ground ball, preventing the White Sox from getting any closer. He also turned in a scoreless seventh as his recent resurgence continued.

Late-inning drama

In the bottom of the seventh, Contreras – coming off a two-homer, 7 RBI game on Friday, went deep yet again. This time, he drove a pitch from Chris Beck into the seats in left-center for a two-run shot. So far in the series, the Cubs catcher has homered three times and driven in an even 10.

The Sox bullpen issued four consecutive walks in the seventh, forcing in a run when Mark Zagunis drew a base-on-balls. That three-run frame proved important for the Cubs when Matt Davidson connected for a three-run shot off Carl Edwards in the top of the eighth, cutting the deficit to 8-4 in the process.

The South Siders (9-26) made things interesting in the ninth, putting two men on against Mike Montgomery. After Kris Bryant misplayed a ball in right, the Sox had men on second and third with nobody out, trailing by four.

Maddon turned things over to his closer, Brandon Morrow, who made quick work of Yolmer Sanchez for the first out. As quickly as the Sox seemed to have a rally going, the Cubs closer had slammed the door shut, giving the Cubs another win at home.

What Stood Out

Despite lighting up the Sox pitching staff, things could’ve been even more lopsided. The wind knocked down at least three balls that would’ve left the yard on a typical day at the Friendly Confines.

But as promising as that is – the Cubs demonstrated a very solid grasp of the zone on Saturday. Chicago drew seven walks on the afternoon – including a pair from Kris Bryant, who continues to put up MVP-caliber numbers this season.

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What’s Next

The series concludes on Sunday afternoon at Wrigley. Lucas Giolito (1-4, 7.25) will need to overcome his control issues if he has any chance of succeeding against a white-hot Cubs offense and right-hander Kyle Hendricks (3-2, 3.02).