By Steven S. Garcia
Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- It was another sweltering day at the Friendly Confines for Game 2 of the three-game set between the Chicago Cubs (53-44) and the San Diego Padres (46-51). The Cubs entered the contest with a 2½ game lead in the NL Central over the St. Louis Cardinals and a 3 game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The game featured a couple of southpaws on the rubber with Jose Quintana (7-7 4.21) vs. second-year pitcher Joey Lucchesi (7-4 3.92).
The Padres created a scoring opportunity in the top of the 1st when Manuel Margot hit a one-out double into left but Quintana punched out Manny Machado and Hunter Renfroe to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 1st, the Cubs started a scoring chance of their own when Javier Baez got things going with a one-out double to right. With Kris Bryant at the plate and a full count, Bryant would walk and a pickoff attempt on Baez at 2nd by San Diego catcher Austin Hedges was thrown into centerfield allowing Baez to reach 3rd.
Anthony Rizzo came up next with a groundout to short, scoring Baez to put the Cubs ahead 1-0. Rookie Robel Garcia followed up with a triple to rightfield scoring Bryant to give the Northsiders a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the 3rd, former White Sox prospect and rookie sensation Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a tape-measure solo shot deep into the centerfield bleachers for his 16th home run of the season to put the Padres on the board and cut the Cubs’ lead in half 2-1. After a misplay on a popup by Addison
Russell allowing Manuel Margot to reach 2nd, Manny Machado took a Jose Quintana changeup into the rightfield bleachers to put San Diego ahead 3-2.
The Northsiders got the bats going again in their bottom-half of the 3rd when Javier Baez and Kris Bryant led off the frame with back-to-back singles. With runners now on 1st and 3rd, Anthony Rizzo hit a grounder to 2nd scoring Baez to tie the game 3-3.
The Padres regained the lead in the 4th after leadoff singles by Luis Arias and Austin Hedges set up a sacrifice-bunt opportunity for pitcher Joey Lucchesi. Lucchesi successfully laid down the bunt to advance the runners to 2nd and 3rd. A Fernando Tatis Jr. sacrifice-fly to center scored Arias to give San Diego a 4-3 lead.
With runners on 1st and 2nd and two outs in the bottom half of the 4th, Javier Baez hit a three-run moonshot for his 24th homer of the season and give the Cubs a 6-4 lead.
The Padres answered back in the 5th when Hunter Renfroe took Quintana deep to center to trim the Cubs’ lead 6-5.
After loading the bases on an Anthony Rizzo double that split the gap in right-center, a Victor Caratini walk, and David Bote single, the Cubs failed to score when Padres reliever Matt Strahm got pinch-hitter Jason Heyward – batting for Jose Quintana – to fly out to end the inning.
Joey Lucchesi left the game after walking David Bote finishing with a final stat line of 4 ⅓ innings allowing 6 runs on 10 hits, striking out 3 and walking 3.
Brandon Kintzler came in to start the 6 for the Cubs in relief of Quintana. Quintana finished his day by going 5 innings, giving up 5 runs on 8 hits, while striking out 7 and walking 1.
Craig Kimbrel came in to pitch the 9th to close it out. After giving up a leadoff walk, Kimbrel got Tatis Jr. to pop out to David Bote at 3rd on a bunt attempt. While Manuel Margot was at the plate, Myers tried to steal 2nd and Javier Baez made yet another mystical no-look tag to make the out. After Margot wound up walking on his at-bat, Kimbrel got Manny Machado to line out to Bote to end it and give the Cubs a 6-5 victory.
Kimbrel collects his fifth save in his last six outings and 6th of the year while Jose Quintana earns the win to improve his record to 8-7.
The Cubs have now won seven out of their first eight games since the All-Star break putting them back to 10 games above .500.
The Cubs will go for the sweep tomorrow at 1:20 PM with Kyle Hendricks (7-7 3.46) on the mound against Cal Quantrill (2-2 4.21).