By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Youth was served for the Cubs on Sunday by a pair of struggling hitters.
The Cubs avoided a four-game sweep with a 7-5 win against the Rockies at Wrigley Field as they got homers from the scuffling Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber in the sixth inning to break a 4-4 tie.
Riding a four-game losing streak and with 17 of the Cubs’ next 20 games on the road, manager Joe Maddon managed the game with a playoff-like mindset. After the Cubs jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning on the strength of Ben Zobrist’s three-run homer, Maddon pulled right-hander Jake Arrieta in favor of reliever Carl Edwards Jr. with the Cubs leading 4-2 with one out in the fifth inning as the Rockies had the bases loaded. Arrieta had been hampered by a cut on his right thumb, which he said he suffered a week ago.
Edwards allowed a game-tying two-run single by Ian Desmond but did good work after that.
“When you have a lead like that, you don’t want to relinquish it,” Maddon said. “In my mind the best guy to get a strikeout there was C.J. He gave up a groundball base hit. He pitched well. He really did great.”
Edwards earned the win thanks to his 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief and Russell and Schwarber coming through in the sixth inning. Both have been in season-long slumps. Russell’s solo shot put the Cubs up 5-4 before Schwarber pinch hit and drilled his lined shot into the seats below the video board in right field. Both came off Rockies reliever Jordan Lyles.
“The home run was big especially with Schwarber doing the same after me,” Russell said. “I certainly wanted to bask in it a little bit. That said, tomorrow will be another day.”
It was Russell’s first difference-making on-field contribution since he was accused by a third party on social media of domestically abusing his wife last Wednesday. It’s an allegations he’s denied. Russell had recently sat out three games and was in a 13-of-95 slump.
Schwarber had been in a 9-of-78 slump himself before pinch hitting and homering for Edwards.
They were the first back-to-back homers from the Cubs in 2017 and helped Chicago get back to .500 at 31-31. The Cubs open a three-game series at the Mets on Monday.
“This was definitely a positive step today,” Schwarber said of he and Russell stepping up. “We were both just trying to get a good pitch to hit. Addy got a hanging breaking ball. I was able to get to a heater down and in. We had good at-bats all day. We are going to take this as a positive and move on.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.