CHICAGO (AP) — Addison Russell hit a two-run single with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, and the Chicago Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants, 5-4, on Thursday night.
The Cubs spoiled a shaky Jeff Samardzija’s return to Wrigley Field and started September on a winning note after going 22-6 to match the 1932 team for the best August in franchise history.
The major league leaders also moved a season-high 39 games over .500 and a jaw-dropping 15 1/2 games ahead of St. Louis in the NL Central — their largest lead in the standings since the 1907 team finished 17 games ahead of Pittsburgh, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Cubs were trailing 4-3 going into the seventh when Hunter Strickland (3-2) gave up a leadoff single to Dexter Fowler and walked Kris Bryant after two close pitches were called balls.
Will Smith walked Ben Zobrist with one out to load the bases before retiring Jason Heyward on a pop fly. But Russell then blooped a two-run single to left off Cory Gearrin.
That gave Chicago a 5-4 lead and made a winner of Joe Smith (2-4), who worked two scoreless innings in relief after returning from a strained left hamstring.
Fowler had two hits and scored two runs. Bryant added an RBI single to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, matching a career high.
Carl Edwards Jr. worked the ninth for his first career save, and the Cubs came away with the win on a cool and windy night in which both starting pitchers lasted just four innings.
Samardzija gave up three runs and five hits, walked three and threw 87 pitches in his second start against Chicago and first as a visitor at Wrigley Field. The right-hander played for the Cubs from 2008 until he was traded to Oakland during the 2014 season in the deal for Russell.
Chicago’s Mike Montgomery gave up four runs — three earned — and three hits, including a long two-run homer to Hunter Pence in the first.
Giants: RHP Matt Cain (lower back strain) is expected to come off the DL and head to the bullpen rather than the rotation. Manager Bruce Bochy said the three-time All-Star, who has struggled with injuries in recent seasons, was “all for” the assignment. RHP Albert Suarez will start Friday.
Cubs: RHP John Lackey (strained right shoulder) will likely return to the rotation this weekend. Thursday’s throwing session went well, and assuming no setbacks, the veteran will start Sunday. … RHP Hector Rondon (strained right triceps) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa on Saturday and likely make another appearance for the minor league club before returning. … Pedro Strop (torn meniscus in left knee) tweaked his right groin in a workout on Wednesday. The Cubs expect him to miss about six weeks after initially projecting him to be out four to six following his injury on Aug. 10.
The Cubs send LHP Jon Lester (14-4, 2.70 ERA), unbeaten in his past six starts, to the mound while Suarez (3-2, 4.35) makes his eighth start for San Francisco.
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