Baseball Report

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Things are looking up in Chicago. Although the Cubs saw their six-game winning streak snapped in Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh, they are gaining more and more confidence as they climb the standings in the National League Central.

Starting this week, Chicago was 21-16, four games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs’ 4-1 win over the Pirates on Saturday put them six games over .500 for the first time since Oct. 3, 2009. And their recent six-game win streak was the club’s longest since winning seven straight in 2011.

Chicago starting pitcher Jon Lester (4-2) won Saturday’s game for his fourth consecutive victory. He allowed one run and nine hits while striking out seven in seven innings pitched.

“We had the better pitching today,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Jonny set that whole thing up. Man, he was outstanding.”

After struggling against Milwaukee and St. Louis, losing seven of 10 games to the Brewers and Cardinals, the Cubs swept the New York Mets in four straight games last week before winning two in a row over the Pirates.

In the series opener against the Mets, rookie Kris Bryant hit his first home run at Wrigley Field in the first inning and Anthony Rizzo followed him with another homer in the inning en route to a 4-3 win.

Chicago had a little luck on its side during its streak, starting with Chris Coghlan’s bases-loaded walk-off walk in the bottom of the ninth for a 2-1 win over the Mets. They overcame a four-run deficit in a 6-5 win over the Mets in the final game of the series.

“When we get down, nobody’s panicking,” Maddon said. “Nobody’s saying ‘We can’t do this.’”

Good fortune returned on Friday when Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco slipped and fell while trying to catch a fly ball. The ball dropped for a run-scoring single in the bottom of the 12th inning, giving Chicago an 11-10 win.

“He didn’t have to go far to get the ball and then he made a little move to his left and crossed his feet,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of the play.

The Cubs bats went silent on Sunday in a 3-0 loss, ending their streak.

Chicago plays at San Diego and Arizona this week on a six-game road trip.

StatsWatch: Here are the leading hitters in the majors through Sunday –

  • Dee Gordon, Marlins, .420 AVG
  • Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers, .356
  • Michael Brantley, Indians, .348
  • Freddy Galvis, Phillies, .347
  • Avisail Garcia, White Sox, .346
  • Jose Iglesias, Tigers, .346
  • Prince Fielder, Rangers, .344
  • Anthony Rizzo, Cubs, .344
  • Nelson Cruz, Mariners, .340
  • Jason Kipnis, Indians, .340

Diamond Notes: The Miami Marlins fired manager Mike Redmond following a 16-22 start. Miami was swept by Atlanta on Sunday, losing the series finale 6-0, and nearly getting no-hit. The Marlins lost nine of 13 games through Sunday. Redmond went 62-100 in his first season with the team in 2013, and 77-85 last year. He is the second major league manager to lose his job this season after Milwaukee’s Ron Roenicke was let go on May 4. Josh Hamilton could return to the Texas Rangers’ lineup next week. Hamilton, who has been in Arizona for extended spring training, was re-acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels on April 27. Hamilton is a five-time All-Star and was the 2010 American League MVP.

Montreal is interested in having a major league team again, and the city’s mayor, Denis Coderre, says he plans to meet with baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred in New York on May 28 to discuss the possibility. The Montreal Expos joined the NL in 1969 as an expansion team, then moved to Washington to become the Nationals in 2005. Montreal has drawn well for exhibition games in 2014 and for two games between Toronto and Cincinnati last month…New York Mets top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard won his first major league game on Sunday, 5-1 over Milwaukee. Syndergaard allowed one run on three hits, a walk, and one hit batter in six innings.

Copyright © 2015  Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.   

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