By Bruce Levine —
CHICAGO (CBS) — The Cubs’ run production had bottomed out, and their malaise had carried into Tuesday evening before the home run ball was the answer for a struggling offense that had scored only a combined 16 runs in its past eight games.
Behind a trio of homers, the Cubs earned a much-needed 8-3 win against the Mets at Wrigley Field, snapping a three-game losing streak and keeping their NL Central lead at two games over the Cardinals and 2.5 games over the Brewers.
After the Cubs started by going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position Tuesday, Kris Bryant clubbed a three-run homer to give them a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Kyle Schwarber added a solo shot in the fifth inning, while Ian Happ followed with a solo homer in the seventh.
That provided Jose Quintana with plenty of offense, as he fired seven innings of two-run ball, scattering six hits while striking out seven to improve to 6-3 since being acquired in mid-July by the Cubs.
The long ball has been the cure-all for the Cubs’ woes this season, as they’re 44-14 when hitting two or more home runs in a game and 25-4 when doing so at least three times. Chicago is 66-17 when scoring four or more runs.
“KB’s home run really turned the tide,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He has a tendency to hit home runs to left central to get us going. We will take it.”
Bryant’s homer was his 26th of the season but first of September.
“Any time you can hit a homer to go ahead, especially a three-run homer, it gives you some breathing room,” Bryant said. “That allows the pitcher to relax a little bit. Q went out and did just that and threw strikes. I don’t want to take all the credit for it. (Ben Zobrist) had really good at-bats. (Willson Contreras’) three walks coming off of the DL — good signs all the way around.”
Schwarber went 3-for-3 with the homer and two runs.
“When you can put one in the seats and get some insurance, that is a good thing,” Schwarber said. “Right now, it is fun to be us. We are being chased. There is not a better feeling playing good baseball games now.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.