103 wins for the Cubs: A look back at every victory of the 2016 season
Cubs open season with 9-0 win over Angels
Jake Arrieta and his lineup of heavy hitters gave those fans every reason to hope they had just watched the start of something special.
Arrieta yielded two hits over seven dominant innings, Miguel Montero homered and drove in three runs, and the Cubs began a season of high expectations with a 9-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.
"I think we set the tone pretty nicely for ourselves," Arrieta said.
Anthony Rizzo and Jorge Soler drove in early runs and Villanova product Matt Szczur added a three-run double in the ninth for the Cubs, who excelled in every area. Chicago couldn't wait to get going again after an exciting 97-win season ended with a dismal four-game loss to the Mets in the NL Championship Series last fall.
Cubs hit 3 homers for Lester in 6-1 win over Angels
Last season, Jon Lester brought to the Chicago Cubs an impressive resume that included the two World Series rings he won with the Boston Red Sox in 2007 and 2013.
Now he is trying to help lead the team with baseball's longest championship drought to its first pennant since 1945.
"I don't like to compare other situations and other rosters and all that stuff," Lester said. "But I like our talent and our lineup because it's deep. So if you want to take one similarity from it, I guess it's that our lineup makes pitchers work and has good, quality at-bats."
Lester (1-0) threw 93 pitches, allowing a run and four hits. The three-time All-Star, who broke Ken Holtzman's 1970 franchise record for strikeouts by a left-hander with 207 last season, fanned four and walked none in his 12th career start against the Angels.
Cubs beat Diamondbacks 14-6, Schwarber hurt in collision
The Chicago Cubs have come out slugging this season and the hits kept coming Thursday night. Only a scary outfield collision marred the show.
Anthony Rizzo matched his career high with six RBIs and the Cubs beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 14-6.
Segura also started the game with a homer. He is the eighth player in major league history to lead off with a home run and hit an inside-the-park homer in the same game.
John Lackey (1-0) gave up six runs on eight hits over six innings in his Cubs debut, but got the win thanks to a five-run Chicago fourth inning. The Cubs opened the season with three straight road wins for the first time since 1988 and have scored 29 runs in the process.
Greinke roughed up again, Cubs beat Diamondbacks
That approach worked out well.
Greinke got off to a rough start and lost again, with Rizzo, Kris Bryant and the Cubs beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 Saturday night.
Greinke (0-2) gave up three runs in the first inning on four consecutive hits and a sacrifice fly.
"We did a good job of getting those runs early," Rizzo said. "He ended up settling, I guess, which he does to everyone, but those runs were huge for us."
Arrieta homers, pitches 7 innings to lead Cubs over Arizona
Jake Arrieta homered and pitched seven innings, helping the Chicago Cubs finish off an impressive first week by beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-3 on Sunday.
Chicago is tied with Cincinnati for the best record in the NL at 5-1. The Cubs host the Reds in their home opener Monday night at Wrigley Field.
Arrieta (2-0) allowed three runs and eight hits, striking out six. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner gave himself a boost with a two-out, two-run homer in the second inning off Shelby Miller (0-1).
Arrieta hit two home runs in 2015 and has three in his career.
Russell's clutch hit helps Cubs top Reds 5-3
Russell tried to soak it all in. With his heart pounding, it wasn't easy.
"Once I stepped on the plate, it was an awesome feeling," he said.
Russell hit a three-run drive in the eighth inning and the Chicago Cubs beat Cincinnati 5-3 in their home opener, roughing up the Reds bullpen after Finnegan took a no-hitter into the seventh inning on Monday night.
In the eighth, Cingrani (0-1) walked Ben Zobrist with one out and hit Jorge Soler. Russell then drove Jumbo Diaz's first pitch out to left-center, whipping the packed crowd into a frenzy and sending the Cubs to their sixth victory in seven games, matching their best start since 1998.
Jon Lester pitched six innings, allowing three runs and five hits. Adam Warren (1-0) worked a scoreless eighth for his first win as a Cub, and Hector Rondon struck out the side in the ninth for his second save in as many chances.
"Nobody got down," Lester said. "We had some good, quality ABs throughout the night that just didn't turn into hits. They made a couple good plays on us."
Cubs rip Reds 9-2 for best start since 1985
From the top spot in the order all the way to the bottom, the Chicago Cubs walked all over the Cincinnati Reds.
Even John Lackey got into the act.
Lackey pitched into the seventh inning and had one of Chicago's 10 walks, helping the Cubs equal the best eight-game start in franchise history with a 9-2 victory on Wednesday night.
"This lineup's deep," Lackey said. "Looking from the other side as a pitcher, it's tough to get through without suffering a little bit of damage."
Miguel Montero walked twice and scored three times as the Cubs improved to 7-1 for the first time since 1985 and just the 11th time overall. Kris Bryant hit his first homer of the season, and Jason Heyward contributed a two-run single and a diving grab to take a hit away from Scott Schebler in the fourth.
Chicago leads the majors with 48 walks and has outscored its opponents 56-20 during its impressive start.
"Big at-bats all night long," manager Joe Maddon said. "We were not chasing out of the zone up and down the lineup."
Cubs sweep Reds for best start since 1969
Some longtime Chicago Cubs fans still haven't gotten over the epic collapse of 1969, but their team isn't into black cats or goats or any other excuse at the moment.
Jason Hammel pitched six scoreless innings, drove home one run and scored another to lead the Chicago Cubs to an 8-1 victory and a three-game sweep over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night. At 8-1, they've off to their best start in 47 years.
"This is all about the players. I have nothing to do with this," said manager Joe Maddon, who was 15 years old when the Cubs won 11 of 12 to start the '69 season en route to a second-place finish. "Our (players) and coaches have done a great job of prepping. One of our goals was to get off to a good start. The guys took it to heart."
Arrieta throws 8 scoreless innings as Cubs beat Rockies 6-2
ven Jake Arrieta has to admit that his scoreless streak at Wrigley Field is impressive.
The right-hander threw eight more shutout innings and the Chicago Cubs hit three home runs to beat the Colorado Rockies 6-2 on Saturday.
Arrieta (3-0), the reigning NL Cy Young winner, struck out eight and allowed five hits in his home debut. He has not allowed a run in his last 48 2/3 innings - dating to last July - at home.
"I didn't know that. That is pretty good," Arrieta said. "But I don't put too much time and effort into that. I just try and execute each time I go out. The results are hard to control. Just try and continue to go on the path I'm (on) right now, force contact and be aggressive in the zone, and good things will happen."
Arrieta had a chance for a complete game, but manager Joe Maddon lifted him after the Cubs scored six runs. Arrieta threw 100 pitches.
"It's early, it's April," Arrieta said. "The most important innings are going to come later in the year."
Lackey strikes out 11 against old team as Cubs top Cards 5-0
John Lackey had a little extra something in the tank for his old team.
The 37-year-old right-hander struck out 11 in seven innings of four-hit ball and delivered an RBI single, leading the Chicago Cubs over the St. Louis Cardinals 5-0 Monday night.
"I've been known to be able to focus a little bit, I guess," Lackey said. "I kind of like this sort of situation."
"You could tell he was amped up," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
Jason Heyward, playing at Busch Stadium for the first time since leaving to sign with Chicago, was 0 for 4 at the plate, made two nice catches in right field and was booed throughout.
"Oh yeah, you hear it. It's fun, it's cool, whatever," Heyward said. "They don't boo too often, so it must be somebody important or somebody doing something worth booing."
Dexter Fowler homered for the second time in three days for the Cubs, a major league-best 10-3 and off to their best start since 1970. Chicago has won 15 of its last 16 regular-season road games, going 6-1 this year.
Hammel leads Cubs past Cardinals with arm, bat
Hammel worked six sharp innings and drove in both runs for the Chicago Cubs in a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.
Heyward was 0 for 5, dropping his average to .170, but threw out Matt Holliday at the plate to end the fourth.
"I got a couple good knocks, my first game-winning RBI," Hammel said. "Honestly, I don't think I wouldn't have been out there without Jason's great play."
Hammel, a career .136 hitter, is 2 for 6 with a double to go with a 1.00 ERA this season. The hits aren't exactly coming from extra work in the cage.
"No, no," Hammel said with a chuckle. "We hit every day but I'm not trying anything different. I've just been trying to get the barrel out."
Arrieta throws 2nd career no-hitter as Cubs beat Reds 16-0
Jake Arrieta's first no-hitter set him apart. Pitching another one in the span of only 11 regular-season starts has put the Chicago Cubs ace in elite company.
And his catcher suspects that the reigning NL Cy Young winner has a few more of those no-hit moments left in him.
Arrieta overcame early sloppiness and bore down at the end, shutting down the Cincinnati Reds in a 16-0 rout on Thursday night that left everyone amazed except him.
After all, he'd done it before.
"It feels different the second time," said Arrieta, who did his best pitching in the last few innings with the gem in reach. "I was a little more relaxed as the game progressed."
Arrieta (4-0) struck out six, walked four and allowed only six balls hit out of the infield during the first no-hitter in Major League Baseball this season.
No spectacular plays were needed by Cubs fielders to preserve Arrieta's performance. He threw 119 pitches, retiring Eugenio Suarez on a routine flyball to right field to end it.
Rizzo homers again, Lester tough as Cubs beat Reds 8-1
Jon Lester had a no-hitter in the back of his mind. He wound up giving up five hits, but gave the Chicago Cubs what they needed most.
Lester provided a fitting follow-up to Jake Arrieta's no-hitter by going seven innings on Friday night, and Anthony Rizzohomered for the third consecutive game, leading Chicago to an 8-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
The Cubs improved to 13-4, the best record in the majors and one of the best starts in the last 100 years. They also opened 13-4 in 1908 - the last time they won the World Series - and in 1970. The 1907 team went 14-3 on its way to a Series title.
"It just helps us relax," Lester said of the impressive start. "The scary part for opponents is you look up and some of our guys are not swinging the bat too great. But our pitching has been real consistent. It's going to be the backbone of this team and take us where we want to go."
Arrieta threw his second career no-hitter in the series opener on Thursday night, a 16-0 win. Lester (2-1) limited the Reds to four singles and Zack Cozart's solo homer.
Rizzo's 2 homers, 4 RBIs lead Cubs to 9-0 rout of Reds
Anthony Rizzo's sessions with Chicago Cubs assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske are starting to pay off.
Rizzo drove in four runs with his 10th career two-homer game, Jason Hammel pitched six sharp innings and the Chicago Cubs routed the Cincinnati Reds 9-0 on Sunday to improve to 14-5 for the first time in 47 years.
"It's just baseball," said Rizzo, who has eight home runs this season. "I opened my stance a little bit but nothing major. You stay with the process. The formula is there. Things will take care of themselves."
With Ben Zobrist and Dexter Fowler getting the day off, Tommy La Stella had his first homer of the season and two doubles in his first start at leadoff since 2014 with Atlanta, and Jason Heyward added four hits and 3 RBIs as the Cubs rebounded from their worst loss of the season, 13-5, on Saturday.
"La Stella stays ready," manager Joe Maddon said. "He comes ready to play. We had a lot of good at-bats. It was nice that we could do this without getting Dexter or Zobrist involved. He never gets annoyed that he isn't getting playing time. He understands his role."
Despite Saturday's loss, Chicago outscored Cincinnati 38-14 in the four-game series, which started Thursday with Jake Arrieta's no-hitter in a 16-0 win.
Cubs hold off Brewers 4-3 for best 20-game start since 1907
Addison Russell knew he was coming up in a key situation. His approach exemplified the overflowing confidence engulfing the Chicago Cubs.
Russell's two-out, two-run triple in the sixth inning snapped a tie and the Cubs held off the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 on Tuesday night to secure their best 20-game start since 1907.
"It's fun," Russell said of the pressure at-bat. "The worst thing you can do is strike out."
Anthony Rizzo added an RBI single in the seventh and Adam Warren (2-0) struck out three in two scoreless innings as the Cubs improved to 15-5, surpassing the 1969 club's 14-6 start. The 1907 World Series-winning team began 16-4.
"I think we're the front-runners right now," Russell said. "We're embracing it. We love it."
Arrieta wins 16th straight decision as Cubs beat Brewers 7-2
Jake Arrieta's bid for a second straight no-hitter was dashed on his fifth pitch. His Wrigley Field scoreless streak ended at 52 2/3 innings.
Oh, and he won his 16th consecutive decision, the longest streak in the major leagues in a decade.
"I was a little flat today," the NL Cy Young Award winner said Thursday after leading the Chicago Cubs over the Milwaukee Brewers 7-2.
Chicago improved to 16-5, its best 21-game start since opening 1907 at 17-4.
"Our most important ballgames are still ahead of us," Arrieta said. "We're still lined up pretty well."
Arrieta (5-0) gave up one run, three hits and four walks in five innings - the first run he allowed at home since July 25. Alex Presley's fifth-inning RBI double ended Arrieta's home scoreless streak at 52 2/3 innings, four outs shy of Ray Herbert's major league record set with the Chicago White Sox in 1962-63.
Arrieta's streak of consecutive winning decisions is the longest since Jose Contreras of the White Sox won 17 in a row from August 2005 to July 2006, according to STATS. Chicago has won in Arrieta's last 18 starts, a team record.
Szczur hits grand slam, Lester fans 10 as Cubs beat Braves
Szczur on Friday joined the long list of key contributors to the Cubs' best start in 109 years.
Szczur, a midgame defensive replacement, hit his first career grand slam during a five-run eighth inning and the Cubs broke away for a 6-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Jon Lester struck out 10 over seven innings as the Cubs improved to 17-5, their top 22-game start since the 1907 team was 18-4.
"I can't explain the feelings I have," said Szczur, who has spent most of the past three seasons shuttling from Chicago to Triple-A Iowa.
Szczur followed by launching a fastball from Chris Withrow over the left field wall for his second home run this year.
Manager Joe Maddon called the 26-year-old Szczur "a manager's or coach's dream player."
"The last step for him was to really realize he belongs in the major leagues," Maddon said.
Hammel goes to 4-0, Rizzo hits 2 doubles in Cubs' win
Bad blood from October carried over into May.
Home plate umpire Laz Diaz warned both benches after Pirates reliever Kyle Lobstein hit Ben Zobrist with a pitch to lead off the seventh. That came after Hammel hit the last batter he faced, Starling Marte, with a pitch to start the bottom of the sixth.
The teams had a benches-clearing incident in last year's NL wild card game when Pirates reliever Tony Watson plunked Jake Arrieta, who went on to a pitch a five-hit shutout. Pittsburgh utility infielder Sean Rodriguez was ejected from that game.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon yelled at Lobstein from the dugout then got into a shouting match with Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli. Maddon and Cervelli became friends in the offseason when Cervelli worked out at a gym owned by Maddon's wife, Jaye, in Tampa, Florida.
"I like him. I really do," Maddon said. "It's always fun to vent. We've all been there. You have to vent on occasion. The worst thing for your health in the long term is to hold that stuff in."
Arrieta improves to 6-0 as Cubs top Pirates 7-1
Seven months later, the Pittsburgh Pirates still can't hit Jake Arrieta.
Then again, they're hardly the only ones.
The Chicago Cubs ace scattered two hits in seven shutout innings in a 7-1 victory that looked more than a little like Arrieta's dominant performance in an NL wild-card playoff win at PNC Park last October. Arrieta (6-0) allowed only singles to Sean Rodriguez in the second and Francisco Cervelli in the seventh, striking out five and walking two while lowering his ERA to 0.84. He became the second six-game winner in the major leagues after Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox.
"He struggled early, then once he finds out where the ball is going, everything takes off for him," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. "He's going to keep going down this path with his skill and the way he works."
Kris Bryant had three hits for the Cubs, who have won seven of eight and moved five games ahead of Pittsburgh in the NL Central.
"We had some good at-bats right out of the shoot," Maddon said. "We did some good things early. We put them a bit on their heels and that's always important in a game like tonight."
Zobrist, Rizzo homer as Cubs top Pirates 6-2 for sweep
The Chicago Cubs are threatening to run away with the NL Central.
Ben Zobrist hit a three-run home run, Anthony Rizzo also connected and Jon Lester worked out of a pair of jams to lead the Cubs over the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 Wednesday for a three-game sweep.
With its seventh win in eight games, Chicago improved to a major league-best 20-6. The Cubs have won seven straight road games and completed their first sweep in Pittsburgh since Sept. 7-9, 2012. They lead the division by six games.
"We pitched really well in this series. We've been doing that the whole year," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "And the offense was good again. But the part that permits the offense to get into the flow of the game is the pitching's been so good. That we are able to stay even or most of the times on top of the other side.
"Offensively we keep having good at bats over the course of the game and then have a chance to work people down by the end. That's pretty much been the roadmap to this point."
Zobrist's third-inning homer put Chicago ahead after center fielder Andrew McCutchen dropped Rizzo's two-out liner for an error.
Hendricks, Zobrist lead Cubs past Nationals 5-2
Ben Zobrist had a piece of confetti stuck to his back as he stood in front of his locker, and there were a few more in the hallway outside of the lavish home clubhouse.
Welcome to Wrigley Field, where maintaining the supplies for the celebration room is one of Chicago's biggest concerns these days.
Kyle Hendricks pitched six scoreless innings, Zobrist drove in four runs and the Cubs beat the Washington Nationals 5-2 on Thursday in the opener of a four-game series between two of baseball's hottest teams.
"This is a really good team, and we play good baseball," Zobrist said, "and tonight was another good example of that."
Hendricks (2-2) allowed two hits, struck out four and walked two as Chicago began a 10-game homestand with its fourth consecutive win and eighth in nine games. Zobrist hit a two-run single in the fourth and a two-run homer in the eighth, helping the Cubs improve their major league-best record to 21-6 for their best start since they were 23-4 in 1907.
"It's pretty fun, I can tell you that," Hendricks said.
Zobrist homers twice to lead Cubs over Nationals
Joe Maddon loves what Ben Zobrist brings to the Chicago Cubs' locker room.
"He's this thing that spreads," the manager said.
Maddon can't complain about what Zobrist is doing on the field lately, either.
Zobrist homered for the third straight game, connecting twice Friday as the streaking Chicago Cubs defeated the Washington Nationals 8-6 for their fifth win in a row.
"Anytime you start feeling good at the plate, it makes the game a lot more fun, especially with a nice warm day and the wind blowing out," Zobrist said. "I think probably a week ago both of those balls I hit would have been caught."
Zobrist drove in four runs for the second consecutive day against the Nationals as the Cubs won for the ninth time in 10 games and improved to a major league-leading 22-6.
That's the best 28-game start in the National League since the 1977 Los Angeles Dodgers also were 22-6.
Russell, Cubs beat Nationals 8-5 for 6th straight victory
Addison Russell is enjoying his high-pressure situations at the plate.
Russell dropped in a tiebreaking, two-run double in the seventh inning and the Chicago Cubs beat the Washington Nationals 8-5 Saturday for their sixth straight victory.
Russell is now 10-for-32 (.313) with 16 RBIs with runners in scoring position this season.
"It's fun," Russell said. "Just try to slow the game down, just try to do your best to perform out there and just try to have some fun with it."
And Russell said he benefited from having the previous day off. The shortstop had the chance to visit with family and chatted with teammates.
"It was nice to gather my thoughts," said Russell, who is hitting .237.
Cubs walk Harper 6 times, Baez homers in 13th to beat Nats
Bryce Harper was drawing walks at such a ridiculous rate he wound up tying a major league record.
That's because the Chicago Cubs gave the Nationals star little to hit.
Chicago walked Harper a record-tying six times, then beat Washington 4-3 when Javier Baez homered in the 13th inning Sunday for a four-game sweep.
The Cubs won their seventh in a row and improved the best record in the majors to 24-6. Washington, which had been leading the NL East, lost its fourth straight.
"They had a plan. They had a plan and unfortunately it worked," Harper said.
While Cubs manager Joe Maddon insisted the walks were more a product of the circumstances than a concerted effort to avoid him, Chicago looked like a team that had little interest in giving Harper much to hit. The reigning NL MVP walked 13 times in this series.
Zobrist, Cubs beat Padres 8-7 for 8th straight win
Looking quite comfortable in the middle of the order, Ben Zobrist is benefiting from the relentless approach by the Cubs' dangerous lineup.
Zobrist went 4 for 4, Addison Russell had three RBIs and Chicago beat the San Diego Padres 8-7 on Tuesday night for its eighth straight win.
"You pass the baton," Zobrist said. "That's what we try to do in the lineup, and guys have been doing a good job of that."
Jon Lester (4-1) pitched six innings of three-run ball as Chicago improved to 25-6 for the best start by a major league team since the 1984 Detroit Tigers won 26 of their first 31 games. Kris Bryant drove in two runs and Jason Heyward scored twice, helping the Cubs open an 8 1/2-game lead over second-place Pittsburgh in the NL Central.
Zobrist had run-scoring singles in the third and fourth against rookie Cesar Vargas (0-2). Zobrist also singled in the second and seventh, and scored in each inning on a hit by Russell.
"I feel like it's a cumulative effect for the whole team," Zobrist said.
Cubs hit 3 homers in support of Hammel, top Pirates 9-4
So much for that one-day slide for the Chicago Cubs.
Three home runs and another strong starting pitching performance returned the smiles to Wrigley Field.
Chicago improved to a major league-best 26-8 after it was swept by San Diego in a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday for its first losing streak of the season.
"It's nice to have a little fun today after the panic set in," a smiling Ross said. "We lost two in a row. Now everyone can relax, we finally won one."
Russell and Ross each hit a three-run shot, and Bryant connected for a two-run drive. That was more than enough for Hammel (5-0), who struck out a season-best eight over 6 2/3 innings, giving up one earned run and eight hits.
It marked the 42nd straight regular-season game a Cubs starter went at least five innings, the team's longest such streak since 1910.
Arrieta strikes out 11, Rizzo drives in 4, Cubs beat Pirates
The unbeaten ace took over from there.
Arrieta struck out 11 in eight innings, Rizzo drove in four runs and the Chicago Cubs remained perfect against the Pittsburgh Pirates with an 8-2 victory on Saturday.
Arrieta improved to 18-0 with a microscopic 0.75 ERA in 20 regular-season starts since Aug. 1. The Cubs have won his last 21 starts, extending a franchise record.
"It's unusual," manager Joe Maddon said with a chuckle. "It's very unusual what he is doing."
Arrieta (7-0) allowed three hits and two runs, leaving with a major league-best 1.29 ERA. After Rizzo's 11th homer made it 3-2 in the fourth, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner struck out seven while finishing his outing with four hitless innings.
"That was a huge swing of the bat by Anthony," Arrieta said. "It picked me up."
Wood wins, drives in go-ahead run, Cubs beat Brewers 2-1
Whether at the plate or on the mound, Travis Wood delivered whenever the bases were loaded.
He snuffed out a Milwaukee Brewers rally with the bases loaded and nobody out in the 12th inning. An inning later, Wood forced in the go-ahead run at the plate for the Chicago Cubs after drawing a two-out walk in a 2-1 win on Wednesday night.
After Carlos Torres missed high on a 3-1 cutter, Wood tossed the padding wrapped around his left elbow aside and jogged to first. Raucous Cubs fans who made the 90-minute drive north from Chicago made Miller Park feel like Wrigley Field.
An inspirational one-liner from manager Joe Maddon on the mound in the 12th apparently made an impression on Wood.
"When he came in the game, I said, `Understand one thing: If you get out of this, you're getting an at-bat.' So, that kind of jacked him up," Maddon said. "That's just how we operate."
Maddon really didn't have a choice in the top of the 13th since he was out of position players.
With a base open, Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell elected to have Torres (0-1) intentionally walk Miguel Montero to load the bases for Wood.
"I'm sitting there thinking `Am I going to let Miguel Montero beat me or am I going to let the pitcher beat me?' I think you have to make the pitcher beat you," Counsell said.
It's exactly what happened for Wood, a career .181 hitter with nine homers.
Arrieta wins 19th straight decision as Cubs beat Giants 8-1
Even one of baseball's hottest team's couldn't slow down Jake Arrieta.
Arrieta gave up four hits and one walk while striking out eight in seven innings to win his 19th consecutive decision as the Chicago Cubs beat San Francisco 8-1 Friday night, snapping the Giants' eight-game winning streak.
"It was a battle for me," said Arrieta, who leads the majors with a 1.29 ERA. "I wasn't crisp until the third or fourth inning . Those guys are tough, top to bottom and they make you work. I had to adjust on the fly a little bit. I brought my B stuff and had to sequence differently."
The Cubs have won Arrieta's last 22 starts going back to last season, with their ace going 19-0 in that stretch. Chicago also won on the road for the 24th time in 29 games.
Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward left the game in the bottom of the first inning after crashing into the left field wall on a diving catch. He chased a shot over his head off the bat of Denard Span, robbing the Giants' leadoff man of extra bases on the third pitch he saw from Arrieta (8-0).
"The first hitter of the game, something like that, I'm at a loss for words," Arrieta said of Heyward's catch in the deepest part of the stadium.
"That's an amazing catch. What he's capable with the glove in the outfield, it's amazing. I think he'll be just fine. A little sore, but I hope he's back as soon as possible.
Hammel stars on mound, plate in Cubs' rout of Cardinals
Jason Hammel had a lot to do with the early six-run cushion.
The pitcher went above and beyond in helping end the Chicago Cubs' first three-game losing streak of the season with a 12-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
"Right out of the gate, took my first swings before I made my first pitch," Hammel said after working 7 1-3 stingy innings and contributing a two-run double to Chicago's big first.
Hammel has beaten the Cardinals twice this season, allowing two runs in 13 1-3 innings. This was his longest outing of the year, and manager Joe Maddon thought he could have thrown a complete game.
"It's important for us, it's important for him psychologically to be able to do that," Maddon said. "It's important that they know he can."
Arrieta moves to 9-0 and Cubs edge Cardinals 9-8
Jake Arrieta got some help from the Cubs' offense to stay perfect.
Arrieta remained unbeaten on the season despite allowing as many as four runs for the first time in nearly a year and the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-8 on Wednesday.
"I picked a good day to be (bad)," Arrieta said.
"I was aggressive but they had a good game plan coming in and it was a good thing our offense was able to be extremely productive today."
Arrieta (9-0) joined the White Sox's Chris Sale as the only nine-game winners in the majors.
Arrieta allowed four runs in a regular-season game for the first time since June 16, 2015.
"We grind whoever it is," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We acknowledge the fact that he's a good pitcher and has had a good start, but I think for us to give him too much credit and go up defeated it a bad route."
Arrieta became the first Cub to win his first nine decisions since Kenny Holtzman in 1967 and it is the best start to a season for the franchise since Jim McCormick went 16-0 in 1886.
The Cubs have won Arrieta's past 23 starts, a franchise record.
Soler, Ross, Bryant hit long HRs as Cubs pound Phillies 6-2
In a game where the Cubs hit several mammoth drives, David Ross' smash against an advertising sign beyond the left-field bleachers stood out.
His 100th career home run was something to behold, and it wasn't just because of the distance it traveled. It was the feelings it generated.
"He makes our clubhouse better, he makes our guys better," said Lester, Ross' teammate in Boston and Chicago. "He knows how to go about pushing buttons with certain guys and getting the best out of them. I know that's true of myself."
The big home runs helped the Cubs win their third straight after dropping eight of 12, and they came before two late delays - for 56 minutes in the top of the seventh inning and for 37 minutes at the start of the ninth.
Soler broke a 1-1 tie with his shot halfway up the video board in left leading off the fourth. Ross added a three-run homer off the Nuveen sign beyond the left-field bleachers in the inning to give the Cubs a 5-1 lead, and Bryant chased Adam Morgan (1-3) with a towering shot to start the fifth.
Hendricks pitches 5-hitter, Cubs beat Phillies 4-1
The roar from the crowd as he walked toward the mound for the ninth inning was one of the highlights forKyle Hendricks.
The right-hander stayed focused even after the shutout disappeared.
Hendricks pitched a five-hitter for his second career complete game, Dexter Fowler hit a leadoff homer and the Chicago Cubs beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 on Saturday.
Hendricks (3-4) struck out seven and walked none. He was greeted with another round of cheers before the start of the ninth, but fell just short of his second career shutout.
"That was probably the coolest part just standing there for the ninth," he said. "But again, I had to tell myself that much more just keep it simple, stay within myself and just make pitches."
Fowler sparked a two-run first against Jerad Eickhoff (2-7) with his sixth home run.
Zobrist, Montero homer, Lackey sharp as Cubs sweep Phillies
Joe Maddon has managed teams that eased up on what he calls "sweep day."
That's not the case with this year's Chicago Cubs.
Miguel Montero added a solo homer and drove in two runs as the Cubs won their fifth straight and completed their sixth series sweep of the season.
"Many times you'll see a team not have the same sense of urgency on sweep day after you've won the series," Maddon said. "I really like that our guys aren't satisfied with just winning a series."
Zobrist's two-out drive to right off Vince Velasquez (5-2) made it 5-0 in the third. It extended Zobrist's hitting streak to 15 games and put the Cubs (34-14) on the way to becoming the first team this season to get to 20 games over .500.
"Now the next goal is 25," Maddon said.
Cubs 'pen perfect for 7 innings in 1-hit win over Dodgers
Jason Hammel wasn't thrilled to leave Monday's game after two innings of one-hit ball because of right hamstring cramps.
At least he could joke about it afterward.
"I blew the no-hitter," he cracked.
Travis Wood and three other relievers combined for seven perfect innings after Hammel left, and the Chicago Cubs one-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0.
It was the Cubs' sixth straight victory after losing eight of 12. They have the best record in baseball and are a season-high 21 games over .500 (35-14).
Hammel exited after cramping while warming up for the third inning. Wood (3-0) pitched four perfect innings in his longest stint of the season to get the win.
That's the longest hitless performance in a game by Cubs relievers since they went 8 1/3 innings Sept. 26, 1948. Cubs pitchers retired the final 25 batters Monday, a franchise best since at least 1974, according to STATS.
Lester goes distance, pitches Cubs past Dodgers 2-1
Jon Lester was surprised when manager Joe Maddon let him bat in the eighth inning. After the pitcher struck out swinging, the rest of the night went according to plan.
Lester tossed a four-hitter for his first complete game of the season, helping the Chicago Cubs edge the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1 on Wednesday despite another quiet performance at the plate.
"I really think that might have been the best I've seen Jonny since he's been here," Maddon said.
The Cubs finished with just three hits against Mike Bolsinger and two relievers after they managed only one in Tuesday night's 5-0 loss to Los Angeles. But one of Chicago's hits was a long, two-run homer by Kris Bryant in the third inning, and Lester (6-3) took over from there.
The left-hander struck out 10 and walked none in his second straight win, settling down quite nicely after Kike Hernandez's leadoff homer on his second pitch. He retired his last 15 batters and threw 113 pitches in his 13th career complete game.
Hendricks sharp, Cubs break loose with 4 HRs, beat Dodgers
Kyle Hendricks is suddenly pitching deep into games and dominating while he's doing it. His latest outing was about as impressive as the complete game he threw in his previous start.
Hendricks was in control for eight innings and the Cubs backed him with four home runs, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-2 Thursday for their eighth win in nine games.
Javier Baez, Jason Heyward and Kris Bryant connected against 19-year-old Julio Urias (0-1). Anthony Rizzo hit a leadoff homer against J.P. Howell in the eighth as the major league-leading Cubs took three of four from the Dodgers.
Hendricks (4-4) allowed two runs and three hits, struck out six and walked one after going the distance in his previous outing to beat Philadelphia.
"He knows he can do it now and that really matters," manager Joe Maddon said. "For the most part this year we've gone five, six-plus with him, maybe a seven. But the other day was the perfect opportunity to let him go deep into the game because we had to, he was pitching that well. He comes out today knowing he can do that."
Hendricks felt he could have pitched the ninth in this one. Instead, he was lifted for a pinch hitter.
"We take pride in going out there every fifth day and doing what we can to help the team win," Hendricks said.
Lackey fans 9, Cubs beat Arizona for 9th win in 10 games
The Chicago Cubs have their eyes fixed on their first championship since 1908 so John Lackey isn't about to get too excited about their record, even if it is the best in the majors.
The veteran right-hander struck out nine while pitching into the seventh inning and the Cubs pulled away late to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-0 Friday for their ninth win in 10 games.
Lackey (6-2) combined with three relievers on Chicago's sixth shutout, scattering five hits over 6 2/3 innings.
And the Cubs improved to 38-15.
"It's too early to talk about surreal," Lackey said. "We have high goals. We have a long way to go before we can reach that."
Hammel allows 1 hit thru 7, gets key hit, Cubs top D-backs
Jason Hammel was dominant on the mound and a bit lucky at the plate, a combination the Chicago Cubs are perfecting.
Hammel allowed one hit over seven innings and snapped a tie with a two-run single to lead the sizzling Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday.
Dexter Fowler added his 17th career leadoff home run, Anthony Rizzo hit his 13th homer and Hector Rondon pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 10th save for the Cubs, who have won four straight and 10 of 11.
At 39-15, the Cubs are one-third of the way through the season and on pace to win 117 games.
"What can I say, man?" manager Joe Maddon said. "Nothing to complain about."
Arizona went up 2-0 on Jake Lamb's 10th homer in the first following a walk. But Hammel (7-1) allowed only one more walk, retiring his last 13 batters amid intermittent rain.
"Just tried to stay with it and try to command the ball in the strike zone and hope the rain would calm down," Hammel said. "I found a pretty good rhythm."
Lester pitches 8 shutout innings to lead Cubs over Phillies
Jon Lester dominated for eight innings, and the Chicago Cubs bullpen was just good enough in the ninth for yet another victory.
Lester pitched eight scoreless innings, Jason Heyward hit a two-run homer and the Cubs held off the Philadelphia Phillies 6-4 on Monday night.
Lester (7-3) improved to 6-0 in eight career starts against the Phillies while lowering his ERA against them to 1.46. He struck out nine, walked none and allowed four hits.
"He's really on top of his game right now," Maddon said.
Philadelphia scored all of its runs in the ninth after Maddon elected not to send Lester out for the last inning. Lester threw 95 pitches and had to wait out a lengthy top of the ninth.
"It was really an easy decision once we got the sixth run," Maddon said. "It just didn't play out right. We had to fasten our seatbelts in the ninth."
Lackey goes 7 strong, Cubs beat Phillies 8-1
John Lackey gave the Chicago Cubs another excellent start, a common theme for baseball's best team.
Lackey (7-2) gave up three hits and extended his scoreless streak to 13 2/3 innings. Each of Chicago's starters has an ERA under 2.90 and the rotation entered with the lowest ERA (2.34) by nearly a full run.
"You don't want to be the guy who screws up," Lackey said. "When a guy gives you the baton, you don't want to drop it. We definitely root for each other. You don't want to let the boys down."
The 37-year-old Lackey is off to his best start in his first season with the Cubs.
"I'm appreciating him more this time around," said manager Joe Maddon, who was a coach on the Angels where Lackey began his career in 2002.
Arrieta shines, homer-happy Cubs beat Braves 8-2
Chicago's four home runs gave Jake Arrieta confidence on a day he said he "wasn't very crisp."
The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner looked sharp to the Braves.
Arrieta allowed only four hits in seven strong innings and, backed by the homers, made an impressive return to winning form as the Cubs beat Atlanta 8-2 on Saturday.
After that, it was only a matter of how long Arrieta would last in the heat. The temperature for the first pitch was 94 degrees.
"Pitching with a lead, I always feel pretty confident," Arrieta said.
Arrieta (10-1) allowed two runs in his answer to his first loss of the season. He described his outing as "OK for my part."
Lester allows no earned runs as Cubs rout Braves 13-2
Jon Lester stopped himself as he started to say he hoped the Cubs could keep winning at their current pace.
That would be asking for too much.
Lester earned his fourth straight victory after allowing no earned runs in seven innings as Chicago beat the Atlanta Braves 13-2 on Sunday to win their final series at Turner Field.
The Cubs (43-18) have won 14 of 18 and improved to 39-2 when scoring at least four runs. They moved 25 games over .500 with their best record through 61 games since 1907, when they won the World Series.
"It's been fun to be a part of and hopefully we can just keep ... obviously the pace we're on is pretty crazy," Lester said. "Not a lot of us have answers for what's going on. Enjoy it while we can."
Lester (8-3) also is on an impressive personal run. He has allowed only one earned run with no walks in three wins this month, lowering his ERA to 1.89. He gave up five hits to the Braves, his high mark of the month, with seven strikeouts.
"That's three in a row he's been outstanding," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "Never tired. His stuff was still good at the end. He's pitching with a lot of confidence right now."
Almora's double in 9th lifts Cubs over Nationals 4-3
Albert Almora Jr. acknowledged his former Arizona Fall League foe when he batted against him in the ninth inning Tuesday night.
Then he spoiled the pitcher's night.
Almora drove in the go-ahead run with a ninth-inning double, Dexter Fowler had two hits and the Cubs defeated the Washington Nationals 4-3.
Addison Russell led off the ninth with a walk from Sammy Solis (1-2) and was sacrificed to second before Almora, who entered the game in the eighth inning, lined a shot to left center on the first pitch.
"We played against each other in the Fall League," Almora said of Solis. "We looked at each other. I gave him a little nod with the helmet. It was time to go to work. He made a good pitch and I just tried to stay up the middle and it fell for me."
The rookie outfielder joined the Cubs on June 7.
"The guy has been up here for five minutes," manager Joe Maddon said. "Goes up there and is not passive. He went up there, jumped on the first pitch and I loved it."
Arrieta goes 6 innings for 11th win, Cubs beat Pirates 6-0
Jake Arrieta came through with the big pitches just when it seemed his control was abandoning him and things were getting "out of whack."
Then, the Cubs broke away for another big win.
Arrieta (11-1) struck out 11 and walked three as the Cubs started the weekend series on a strong note after dropping two of three at Washington.
"If I'm down in the strike zone, good things will happen," Arrieta said. "Got a little out of whack in the sixth but got back to just throwing in the zone down."
Rizzo, Bryant, Ross homer; Cubs beat Pirates 4-3
The Chicago Cubs have done a lot for Jon Lester this season - including a lot of diving stops and long home runs. Once again on Saturday night, Lester's teammates came through in a big way.
The major league-leading Cubs (46-20) improved to a season-high 26 games above .500 while the Pirates lost for the ninth time in 10 games.
Chicago made several sparkling plays in the field and drove enough balls over the wall to help a shaky Lester (9-3) win his fifth straight start.
"I knew early on I didn't have great stuff," he said. "I battled through it. Really, your mentality there is just try to keep the team in the game. They did that. They picked me up."
Rizzo and Bryant each hit their 16th home run, and Ross made it 4-3 with a solo drive in the sixth that chased Jonathon Niese (6-4).
Contreras homers in 1st at-bat, Cubs sweep Pirates
Prized prospect Willson Contreras received a standing ovation as he made his way to the plate in the sixth inning for his first major league at-bat.
One pitch later, the Wrigley Field crowd was back on its feet demanding a curtain call.
Contreras crushed the first pitch he saw in the big leagues for a two-run home run, Kyle Hendricks struck out a career-high 12 in six innings and the Chicago Cubs completed a sweep of the fading Pittsburgh Pirates with a 10-5 victory Sunday night.
"It's incredible," a smiling Contreras said. "I don't have the words to explain how happy I am."
Contreras, called up from Triple-A on Friday, pinch hit for Hendricks in the sixth and sent A.J. Schugel's changeup an estimated 415 feet to center. The cheering didn't let up until the 24-year-old Venezuelan catcher hopped out of the dugout and tipped his cap.
A fan even returned the ball to Contreras, which sat in his locker.
"It's a dream come true," he said.
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo hit consecutive home runs in the third and Javier Baez added a solo shot for the Cubs, all off rookie Jameson Taillon (1-1). Addison Russell hit a two-run shot in the seventh for the Cubs, who have eight homers in two games.
Contreras helps Cubs end 4-game skid by beating Marlins 5-4
One week into his major league career, Chicago Cubs super-sub Willson Contreras says he's simply trying to contribute and enjoy himself.
So how much fun is he having?
"A lot," Contreras said, practically shouting the words. "A lot."
No wonder - he's batting .412 with three homers, and the latest helped the Cubs break their longest losing streak of the season at four games by beating the Miami Marlins 5-4 Friday night.
Contreras hit a two-run homer in a four-run first inning, and his RBI single in the seventh put the team with the best record in the majors ahead to stay.
Manager Joe Maddon said Contreras' contribution as a reinforcement for the injury-hampered Cubs has been indispensable.
"It's like oxygen - it's absolutely necessary," Maddon said. "The life he has brought to the group is absolutely necessary. He's different in all the best ways."
Bryant blasts 3 homers as Cubs, Arrieta beat Reds 11-8
When Kris Bryant reached the dugout after his record-setting third homer, thousands of Cubs fans in the stands cheered for a curtain call. A few teammates wanted him to take a bow, too.
Nope. That was the only thing Chicago's top hitter wouldn't do on his historic night.
Bryant became the first major leaguer to hit three homers and two doubles in a game, and Jake Arrieta added a solo shot in the ballpark where he threw a no-hitter in April, setting up an 11-8 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.
The Cubs pulled out of their 1-6 slide behind a tandem that's had some huge moments in Cincinnati.
"The last couple of weeks haven't been what I've wanted, so I figured I'm due," said Bryant, who hit three homers one time during a college game with San Diego.
Arrieta (12-2) threw his second career no-hitter on April 21 during a 16-0 win over the Reds. Bryant led the way with a pair of homers in that game, including a grand slam that gave him a career-high six RBIs.
Arrieta struggled in his return to Cincinnati, giving up a season-high five runs in five innings, but Bryant drove in six runs again to help the right-hander pull through. Bryant's 16 total bases were a Cubs record, and his five hits marked a career high.
Cubs play 3 relievers in LF while beating Reds in 15 innings
Manager Joe Maddon's move was so wacky that even his own players laughed. And when it worked better than anyone could have imagined, the Cubs were celebrating again.
Kris Bryant singled home the tiebreaking run in the 15th inning, and Maddon used three pitchers in left field while Chicago beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-2 on Tuesday night in the longest game of the season for both teams.
With the Cubs out of position players, relievers Travis Wood and Spencer Patton (1-0) alternated between left field and the mound in the 14th inning, which ended with Patton getting the final out. Wood then finished it off with reliever Pedro Stropin left.
"When I went out there to do it originally, the infielders were kind of giggling," said Maddon, who had never done anything like it as a manager.
It worked perfectly as things started falling in place for the Cubs again.
Bryant's only hit on Tuesday - a single off J.J. Hoover (1-2) - snapped the tie. Javier Baez added a grand slam in the 15th, the sixth career allowed by Hoover, which is a Reds record. Then it was just a matter of figuring out how to finish it off.
"For the left fielder to pitch to one batter and then go back - yeah, that's crazy," Baez said. "But we had fun."
Rizzo legs out inside-the-park HR, Cubs sweep Reds 9-2
Anthony Rizzo saw the ball ricochet across the outfield and kicked his legs into high gear, deciding he was going to try to touch `em all. His sides were aching by the time he slid safely into home plate.
Rizzo legged out his first inside-the-park homer on Wednesday - a fitting final touch to a series full of unusual moments - and the Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 9-2 for a three-game sweep that put them back on solid footing after a rough stretch.
"They were on top of it, man, after a long one last night," Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks said.
The Cubs went 1-6 last week, hurt by an injury-depleted lineup and a balky bullpen. With thousands of Cubs fans in the stands at Great American Ball Park for each game, they pulled off an invigorating sweep.
The NL Central leaders won the opener 11-8 as Kris Bryant became the first major leaguer with three homers and two doubles in a game. They won 7-2 in 15 innings Tuesday night in a game that featured Javier Baez's grand slam and three relievers playing left field alternately.
Bryant, Contreras homer to help Cubs rout Reds 10-4
Trounced by the team that swept them out of the NL Championship Series last fall, the Chicago Cubs got back to the business of beating their other opponents.
Playing the NL Central's last-place team was just what the major league-leading Cubs needed after getting outscored 32-11 in a four-game sweep by the Mets in New York.
"The power of 24 hours," manager Joe Maddon said. "We had a tough stay in New York City."
Bryant leads Cubs to 6-5 win against Pirates
Kris Bryant wouldn't let another win slip away.
After Chicago squandered two leads, Bryant's RBI single in the eighth inning lifted the Cubs to a 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.
Pinch-hitter Matt Szczur doubled to left field with one out against Pirates reliever Tony Watson (1-3). Bryant, who had three hits and reached base four times, followed with his tiebreaking hit to put the Cubs back ahead.
"I just go out and try to make something happen," Szczur said. "I was able to get a good pitch to drive and (Bryant) did the rest. . We've been grinding, we're a bunch of grinders, so that was a good way to end the first half. We feel good about ourselves."
Chicago avoided a series sweep ended its five game losing streak. Pittsburgh lost for just the second time in 11 games heading to the All-Star break.
With the win, the Cubs carry a seven-game lead over the second-place St. Louis Cardinals into the break.
Hendricks, 4 relievers throw 5-hitter, Cubs beat Rangers 6-0
Anthony Rizzo was annoyed as he faced a sea of microphones before the Chicago Cubs' first game following the All-Star break.
"The only people that are panicking about this team is the media," Rizzo said. "It's been pretty negative all the comments coming out of everyone's mouth, except in this clubhouse."
A few hours later, the Cubs put together one of their best games of the season.
Kyle Hendricks and four relievers combined on a five-hitter, Addison Russell had a two-run single to key a five-run sixth inning, and the Cubs beat the Texas Rangers 6-0 on Friday in a matchup of slumping division leaders.
"We pitched and really played defense today," manager Joe Maddon said. "It was outstanding."
The Cubs won for the seventh time in 22 games, while the Rangers lost their eighth in 10 games thanks to a rough sixth that included Prince Fielder's throwing error.
Hammel, Cubs down Rangers 3-1 as Darvish returns
Cubs manager Joe Maddon had a plan for facing Yu Darvish in the Texas star's return from the disabled list: load up on lefties and wait him out.
It worked, neutralizing Darvish's nasty slider and his nine strikeouts.
Darvish couldn't get through the fifth inning and the lefty-hitting Anthony Rizzo's two-run double helped lead Chicago past the Rangers 3-1 on Saturday.
"A guy like that, if you just let him have his way, he'll be sitting on 70 (pitches) in the sixth inning, he's going to beat you up," Maddon said. "His stuff is that good."
In his first start since June 8 because of shoulder pain, Darvish (2-1) reached 98 mph and allowed only two runs and two hits. But the Japanese right-hander lasted just 4 1/3 innings thanks to four walks and shoddy defense.
"I was throwing the ball well," Darvish said through an interpreter while declaring himself pain-free. "It was a little different feeling from the last rehab outing in a good way."
Jason Hammel (8-5) struck out seven in six innings for the Cubs, who won their second straight in the interleague matchup of division leaders.
Hector Rondon pitched a perfect ninth to complete the three-hitter for his 15th save.
Rizzo homers as Cubs beat Mets 5-1
Rizzo hit a three-run homer, Jon Lester pitched 7 2/3 innings and the Chicago Cubs stopped an eight-game losing streak against the New York Mets with a 5-1 victory on Monday night in a rematch of last year's NL Championship Series.
With one out and two on in the third inning, Rizzo fouled off five straight 2-2 pitches before driving a changeup deep into the bleachers in right-center for his 22nd homer.
"It was 2-2 for a while there. I don't think he wanted to go 3-2," Rizzo said. "He was making good pitches and I was just fighting them off. Just try to grind at-bats, that's what we're so good at doing."
The crowd of 41,353 cheered wildly as Rizzo rounded the bases on a picturesque night at Wrigley Field. The All-Star slugger is batting .339 with three homers and 10 RBIs in July.
"He's the anchor of the whole group. There's no question about it," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Rizzo homers twice off Colon; Hendricks, Cubs top Mets 6-2
Confidence has returned to the Chicago Cubs in the form of what manager Joe Maddon describes as a couple of slices of Meat Loaf.
Anthony Rizzo homered twice off Bartolo Colon, Kyle Hendricks pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings and the Cubs beat the New York Mets 6-2 Wednesday to take two of three in the rematch of last year's NL Championship Series.
After entering the All-Star break on a 6-15 skid, the Cubs have taken four of six from AL West-leading Texas and the Mets, who swept them in last year's NL Championship Series.
"A nice homestand. Four out of six ain't bad," Maddon said. "Eating Meat Loaf twice, I'll take it."
The offbeat Maddon calls winning series eating Meat Loaf, a reference to the singer's 1977 hit, "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad."
"We've played six really good games since the break, and that's the part that has really stood out to me," Maddon said.
Fowler returns with a homer, Cubs down Brewers 5-2
Watching Dexter Fowler jog out to play center field for the first time in more than a month made Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon smile.
His swing looked even better to the Cubs.
Fowler led off the first with a homer and drove in three runs in his first game back from the disabled list, powering Chicago to a 5-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.
"How about it? Just right out of the gate, crushes the ball to center-field," Maddon said.
Fowler went 3 for 4 with a walk and scored twice after being sidelined with a strained right hamstring. His two-run double to left with the bases loaded in the second drew rousing cheers from the bevy of Cubs fans visiting Milwaukee.
Jason Hammel (9-5) allowed four hits and two runs over five-plus innings for his second victory since the All-Star break for NL Central-leading Chicago. He never trailed after Fowler slugged a 3-1 pitch from Jimmy Nelson (6-8) over the center-field wall to lead off the game.
"I was just happy to be back around the boys," Fowler said.
Nathan gets win in return to majors; Cubs beat Brewers 6-5
Entering his first big league game in 16 months, Joe Nathan felt his heart racing while doing a full sprint to the mound.
Nathan has 377 career saves, and yet Sunday still felt like opening day all over again for the 41-year-old reliever.
Anthony Rizzo's three-run double in the seventh inning helped the Chicago Cubs overcome a four-run deficit and made a winner of Nathan in a 6-5 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
"It was opening day for me today, and the adrenaline was ... through the roof. It was almost too much," Nathan said. "I almost needed a defibrillator for the run into the mound."
Baez homers, Russell adds slam, Chapman debuts as Cubs rout White Sox
The Chicago Cubs saved their scoring and drama until the later innings. Aroldis Chapman then capped it in his Cubs' debut, even in a non-save situation.
Javier Baez hit a tiebreaking two-run homer deep into Wrigley Field's left bleachers in the seventh, Addison Russell added a grand slam in a five-run eighth and the Cubs beat the White Sox 8-1 on Wednesday night.
Jason Hammel (10-5) allowed one run and five hits while striking out seven in seven innings. Hector Rondon pitched a perfect eighth, and Chapman pitched a 1-2-3 ninth - striking out Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia - while hitting speeds of 103 mph.
The sellout crowd of 41,116 buzzed when the hard-throwing lefty entered the game. Afterward, Chapman's teammates were talking as much about him as the late homers.
"I thought we were getting a guy who threw 105. We only got 103," Hammel joked. "That's impressive, jaw-dropping to see."
Chapman had 20 saves in 21 chances this season with the Yankees before the Cubs acquired the hard-throwing lefty on Monday for a package of prospects.
Chapman saves Cubs' 3-1 win as Sale loses in White Sox return
The Cubs did just enough against the White Sox ace in his six innings and rode their own pitching to a 3-1 victory Thursday night in Chicago's rivalry series.
Chapman earned his first save for the Cubs since being acquired from the Yankees, leaving the crowd buzzing by consistently throwing 102 mph.
"It was fun to be in the dugout and check that out," Lackey said of Chapman's sizzling fastballs. "It's definitely something you want to tune in to see for sure."
Lester recovers from rut of bad starts, Cubs rout Mariners
Jon Lester felt better Friday, after some rough outings. He knows he wasn't perfect in six shutout innings. A pair of "pointless, useless walks," as he put it, still bothered him afterward.
Not that they mattered, in the end.
The Cubs posted their highest-scoring game at home this season, routing the Seattle Mariners 12-1 Friday for their third straight win.
"The guys swung the bats really well," Lester said. "I try to always tell them, 12 runs and an air-tight defense makes a pitcher's job a lot easier, so that was good today."
Lester (11-4) gave up four hits and struck out seven.
Lester squeezes in deciding run, Cubs beat Mariners in 12
Manager Joe Maddon went deep into his bag of tricks to steal one from the Seattle Mariners.
Lester drove in Jason Heyward with a two-strike squeeze bunt in the 12th inning, and the Cubs overcame a six-run deficit on the way to a wild 7-6 victory over the Mariners on Sunday night.
"I just kept telling myself `Don't be late to square around,'" Lester said. "That's one thing over the last year that I've kind of picked up on on bunting, and it's helped me just be a little more consistent."
Heyward sparked the winning rally with a leadoff double against Cody Martin (1-1). He advanced on Willson Contreras' fly ball to center before Lester, hitting for Hector Rondon (2-2), managed to get a safety squeeze down right in front of the plate.
Hendricks pitches 7-hitter as Cubs beat Marlins 5-0
"I did get a base knock," Hendricks reminded his teammate.
Hendricks did it all just when the Cubs needed him most, pitching a seven-hitter for his second career shutout and providing the Chicago's bullpen a needed breather in a 5-0 victory over the Miami Marlins on Monday night.
"He's a great team player and he's just a joy to be around," manager Joe Maddon said. "Then he goes and does that."
After a wild, 12-inning win a night earlier in which Maddon used 22 players, Hendricks (10-7) threw a career-high 123 pitches and lowered his ERA to 2.22, third-best in the majors. He allowed three walks and struck out five.
No bad for a guy pegged to be the No. 5 starter this season who reached double-digit wins for the first time in his career.
"This is definitely the best I've ever pitched, the most confident I've ever been, I think," Hendricks said. "It's just been a development all year long, using my other pitches. I used my curveball a lot today, especially toward the end of the game."
Hammel, Chapman pitch Cubs past Fernandez, Marlins 3-2
Cubs manager Joe Maddon's decision to lift a dominant Jason Hammel for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning looked dubious when Miguel Montero struck out and Pedro Strop got into trouble in the seventh.
All it took was a big play in the outfield and some 104 mph heat from Aroldis Chapman to give Maddon and the Cubs another win.
"Today I was a one-pitch pitcher," said Hammel, who allowed four hits and set a career high for wins in a season. "I didn't really have a feel for any of the breaking pitches, curveball and the slider, and I didn't throw any changeups. The fastball played well today."
Hammel (11-5) extended Chicago's scoreless streak to 24 innings before Strop's shaky seventh. Aroldis Chapman hit 104.4 mph on the radar gun in a perfect ninth as the Cubs won for the sixth time in seven games and opened a nine-game lead over St. Louis in the NL Central.
Cubs rally for 3 in 9th to complete sweep of Marlins, 5-4
The winning rally lacked a signature hit, and that was just fine with the Chicago Cubs. To them, Wednesday's comeback was a testament to the team's collective resolve.
Chicago tied it when Ramos (1-1) walked Ben Zobrist with the bases loaded and two outs.
"I think we've got a good group," Cubs starter John Lackey said. "A group that keeps fighting."
Chicago manager Joe Maddon also credited those among the Wrigley Field crowd of 41,147 who stayed until the end.
"They had so much energy," Maddon said. "It was a long day and it was hot out there and we have to get on the road. All those different mental factors, and our fans picked us up."
Soler homers in return to help Lester, Cubs beat A's 7-2
Cubs manager Joe Maddon thought Jorge Soler might get a jolt out of returning to the majors after spending two months recovering from a nagging hamstring injury, including a two-week stint in the minors.
Boy, was Maddon right.
Soler hit a three-run home run in his first at-bat after being activated off the disabled list, Jon Lester pitched seven strong innings, and Chicago beat the Oakland Athletics 7-2 on Friday night.
"Sometimes a guy just needs to show up and then he gets the adrenaline going on, and that was a big hit," Maddon said. "I didn't think it was high enough to go out. It was out so quickly."
Lester (12-4) pitched for the A's over the final two months of the 2014 season after getting traded from Boston. He returned to the Coliseum for the first time since then and faced a distinctly different Oakland team than the one he left.
Arrieta goes 8 innings, Cubs beat A's 4-0; Gray injured
NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta isn't quite satisfied he's recovered his dominant stuff after a pedestrian July.
He didn't look far off Saturday. Arrieta pitched eight innings of three-hit ball to get his first victory in over a month and the Chicago Cubs beat the Oakland Athletics 4-0.
"Really close," Arrieta said when asked if he's back to full strength.
Arrieta (13-5) was 0-3 in his previous five starts and 1-4 since ending a 20-decision winning streak on June 22. He struck out four and walked one on 108 pitches.
"Emphasis (is) on sinking the ball down, middle down in the strike zone and forcing action early on," Arrieta said. "Not worrying about strikeouts. Those will come in big situations. Maybe guy on third, a guy on second base, no outs, less than two, punchouts are more important. I'm trying to get through the middle innings."
The NL Central-leading Cubs have won five straight and 16 of 22, and they moved a season-best 27 games over .500 for a second time this season.
Hendricks' latest gem helps Cubs complete sweep
Kyle Hendricks is almost certain to be a big part of that as well, especially if he keeps pitching like he has the past three months.
Hendricks added to his already impressive season with another strong outing, pitching into the eighth inning for his fifth win since June to help the Cubs beat the Oakland Athletics 3-1 Sunday and complete a three-game sweep.
"I think he can be effective any time," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. "The gun doesn't say a big number but after those changeups and the curve ... if he elevates at 90, I promise you, and you can see the reaction of the hitters, that 90 is a lot quicker than it reads on a scoreboard."
Bryant, Lackey lead Cubs over Angels 5-1 for 8th straight
John Lackey was ornery and fired up, just what the Cubs needed from their veteran right-hander to keep rolling.
Kole Calhoun homered on Lackey's third pitch, but the former Angels right-hander later retired 12 straight. Lackey (9-7) allowed three hits over eight innings, and all six of his strikeouts were looking.
"He's not going to be out there smiling all the time and he's going to be upset with umpires and he's going to be upset with his manager," said Cubs skipper Joe Maddon, who was with the Angels when Lackey started his career in 2002. "He's going to be upset with teammates on occasion. But that's just who he is, and when you know that, it's OK. Because you love having him on your team."
Hammel dominates as Cubs win 9th straight, 3-1 over Angels
The Chicago Cubs are dominating on the mound, making sparkling plays in the field and coming through with big hits at the plate.
There is not much to criticize when a team is rolling along like this.
Jason Hammel won his career-best fifth straight start, pitching four-hit ball over seven scoreless innings, and Chicago beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-1 on Wednesday night for their season-high ninth straight win.
The major league-leading Cubs matched their longest streak since Aug. 6-15 of last year and moved a season-best 30 games over .500 (71-41). They come into a four-game set against St. Louis at Wrigley Field with three straight series sweeps after consecutive victories over the Angels.
Hammel (12-5) struck out six, walked two and helped himself at the plate when he singled and scored in the fifth againstRicky Nolasco to make it 2-0.
Rizzo draws bases-loaded walk in 11th, Cubs beat Cards 4-3
Anthony Rizzo finished celebrating, retreated to the clubhouse and reminded his Chicago Cubs teammates that they've now won games in their last at-bat on a wild pitch, a squeeze bunt and a bases-loaded walk.
It's been that kind of season.
Rizzo drew a walk from Zach Duke with two outs in the 11th inning and the Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 on Thursday night for their 10th consecutive win.
"It's one of those things where it's going our way," Rizzo said. "We just want it to keep going our way."
Not only did the Cubs open a 13-game lead over the second-place Cardinals in the NL Central, St. Louis lost slugger Matt Holliday to a broken right thumb after he was hit by a pitch in the 10th inning.
Cubs win 11th straight, Szczur hits 2 HRs to rout Cardinals
The Chicago Cubs are on a roll, and even their depth players are going deep to keep them streaking.
The Cubs' winning streak is their longest since a 12-game run in 2001. They pulled 14 games ahead of scuffling St. Louis in the NL Central and improved the best record in the majors to 73-41.
Manager Joe Maddon gave outfielders Dexter Fowler and Jason Heyward a day off following a 4-3, 11-inning win over the Cardinals on Thursday. From left to right, Contreras, Szczur and Soler started in the outfield instead and came through on a muggy afternoon.
Cahill, bullpen combine on 3-hitter, Cubs beat Brewers 4-0
Cahill came off the disabled list to throw five innings of two-hit ball in his first start in nearly 16 months, and the Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 Tuesday in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.
"He gave us something to talk about," manager Joe Maddon said.
Lackey is nursing an injury that forced him to leave Sunday's start and will be pushed back until at least Saturday.
Mike Montgomery followed Cahill and pitched two innings, Hector Rondon worked the eighth and Joe Smith walked two in the ninth before Aroldis Chapman got two outs to close a three-hitter.
Pitching, Rizzo's dazzling catch help Cubs sweep Brewers
Anthony Rizzo has been watching a lot of the "Final Five" gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics team. So when he jumped onto a wall to make a remarkable catch of a foul ball before sticking the landing, he had one thought.
"Maybe Final Six?" Rizzo said, grinning.
Jason Hammel threw seven innings of two-hit ball, Rizzo drew "MVP" chants after his circus catch, and the Chicago Cubs beat the banged-up Milwaukee Brewers 4-1 on Tuesday night to sweep a day-night doubleheader.
Javier Baez hit a two-run homer while Hammel (13-5) struck out seven to extend his scoreless streak to 22 innings.
But Hammel was more interested in talking about Rizzo. The first baseman jumped on the wall with both feet, leaned into the crowd and made a one-handed grab of Keon Broxton's popup in the fifth. He then snapped back and landed on his feet on the field.
Soler powers Cubs to 6-1 win over Brewers
Jorge Soler has made the Chicago Cubs' lineup deeper by going deep.
Soler, who hit a three-run home run to lead Chicago to a 6-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night, has hit seven home runs in seven starts since coming off the disabled list in early August. He's hitting .379 in 10 games over that stretch.
"When Jorge is in there it makes a deep, long lineup," said Cubs catcher David Ross, who hit a solo home run as the Cubs won their third straight and 17th in 20 games.
"When he was out ... the lineup was shortened, you know, once you get past a certain guy, it's a little easier to navigate the lineup," Ross said.
Hitting in the sixth spot, Soler sent Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson's 2-2 pitch far over the wall in left-center field, depositing it just under the videoboard atop the stands.
Bryant homers twice, has 5 hits as Cubs sweep Brewers 9-6
Kris Bryant came to the plate in the eighth inning a triple shy of the cycle. The Cubs slugger was trying for a little more.
"My last at-bat I was thinking home run," Bryant said. "There aren't too many games you can hit three home runs."
Bryant settled for an RBI single to cap a 5 for 5 day with two homers, a double and five RBIs. He helped Chicago overcome a career-high seven walks by Jake Arrieta to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 9-6 Thursday for a four-game sweep.
"I don't feel like this too often," Bryant said, "This was just one of those days when I was really locked in."
Bryant tied Colorado's Nolan Arenado for the NL lead with 30 home runs.
And as the Cubs won for the 18th time in 21 games and improved the best record in the majors to 77-43, the only controversy in their jovial clubhouse is whether Bryant or teammate Anthony Rizzo is the better NL MVP candidate.
Two days after a circus catch of a foul ball, Rizzo doubled twice off Zach Davies (9-6). Rizzo has driven in 86 runs and Bryant 78.
Bryant homers, drives in 4 as Cubs beat Rockies, 9-2
Mike Montgomery was on a strict pitch count but did all he could to stretch it in his starting debut for the Chicago Cubs.
Montgomery pitched four hitless inning before the low pitch count and a mistake ended his day two outs too soon, as the Cubs cruised to a 9-2 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.
Montgomery was solid in his first start since coming over in a trade with Seattle on July 20 but didn't stick around long enough to earn the decision. Manager Joe Maddon was cautious with the young left-hander and took him out after giving up a one-out homer in the fourth, the first and only hit he allowed.
Montgomery threw just 60 pitches but had not started since July 17 with the Mariners. His first seven appearances with Chicago were out of the bullpen, so Maddon kept him on a strict pitch count.
Cubs hit 3 HRs to back Lester in 5-1 win over Padres
Jon Lester had another strong outing and his teammates powered their way to another win.
Lester (14-4) limited the Padres to a run and five hits in six innings. He struck out eight and walked two in winning for the 10th time in his last 11 decisions. The left-hander improved to 5-0 with six quality starts out of seven since the All-Star break.
"Game after game after game you kind of know what to expect from him right now," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He had really good stuff tonight."
Lester was making his first regular-season appearance at Petco Park, the last active ballpark where he hadn't yet started.
Arrieta dominates for 8 innings, Cubs beat Padres 5-3
Jake Arrieta might be starting a late-season push for an NL Cy Young Award. He's done it before.
Arrieta threw eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball to become the NL's first 16-game winner and Kris Bryant and Addison Russell homered, lifting the Chicago Cubs over the San Diego Padres 5-3 on Tuesday night.
"The story line is Jake," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He hardly ever lost the plate and his fastball command kept getting better as the game progressed. That was really reminiscent of last year."
Arrieta (16-5) allowed a single to Alex Dickerson in the second and Christian Bethancourt's double in the eighth. The defending NL Cy Young winner has two no-hitters in the past year, including one while he went 11-0 with an 0.41 ERA over his final 12 starts last season.
"It's hard to replicate what he did last year," Maddon said. "He just nailed it. So if he gets hot over these last couple of weeks you could see more of what you just saw tonight."
Major league ERA leader Hendricks pitches Cubs past Padres
Kyle Hendricks has another weapon, although it's not a pitch.
It was on display when the Chicago Cubs beat the San Diego Padres 6-3 to complete a three-game sweep on Wednesday.
"It's confidence," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "The biggest thing from last year to this year is the confidence thing. I think he believes he is one of the best right now."
Hendricks, the major league ERA leader, pitched six effective innings to pace the Cubs.
"Maybe he wasn't as sharp as usual, but he was really good," Maddon said.
Hendricks (12-7) gave up two runs and four hits, striking out eight and leaving with a 2.19 ERA. He has allowed no more than three earned runs in 17 straight starts.
Over that span, Hendricks has pitched to a 1.70 ERA.
Bryant's 2-run homer rallies Cubs past Dodgers 6-4 in 10
Kris Bryant heard the "MVP" chants from the contingent of Chicago fans at Dodger Stadium. Inside the clubhouse, his teammates showered him with more of the same.
Bryant hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the 10th inning to go with an earlier solo shot, lifting the Cubs over the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 on Friday night in the series opener between NL division leaders.
"It's humbling and just keeps me going and keeps me determined to do all I can," Bryant said. "It's pretty cool to hear."
Bryant's NL-leading 35th homer capped a comeback from an earlier two-run deficit and extended the Cubs' winning streak to four games. Bryant heard the crowd's chants as he scored behind Dexter Fowler, who singled leading off.
Bryant went 2 for 4 and scored three runs to increase his major league-leading total to 107.
"His swing has gotten shorter," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It's more contact oriented, he is not chasing as much. He is able to put the ball in play with two strikes. That for me is the biggest difference over last year."
Cubs rally for 8-7 win against Pirates in 13 innings
Miguel Montero waited for five hours before he got a chance to play. And then he had to face a crafty left-hander with the bases loaded.
One soft liner made it all worth it.
Montero hit a game-ending RBI single in the 13th inning, and the Chicago Cubs rallied for a wild 8-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night.
"It's a winning team, winning attitude," Montero said. "That's (what) it's all about. We never quit. We know we can come back anytime. We've done it all season long, and we did it again today."
Dexter Fowler, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo set the stage for Montero's clutch swing with consecutive singles against Jeff Locke (9-8), plating the tying run. After Ben Zobrist was walked intentionally, Montero dumped a 1-2 pitch into left for a big pinch-hit single.
Hendricks lowers ERA to 2.09 as Cubs top Pirates 3-0
Kyle Hendricks began the season as the Cubs' No. 5 starter. He's on pace to finish it as the major league's ERA leader and - if manager Joe Maddon has his way - potentially with an even bigger trophy.
Hendricks threw seven dominant innings to lower the majors' best ERA to 2.09 and Anthony Rizzo homered to lead the Cubs past the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-0 on Tuesday night for Chicago's 21st victory in August.
"He has to be in Cy Young contention," Maddon said. "Put the radar gun in your back pocket and look at what he's doing. There has to be strong consideration, not just consideration."
Hendricks (13-7) allowed three hits and has given up three or fewer runs in 18 straight starts. He didn't allow a hit untilGregory Polanco's bloop to left-center in the fifth and faced the minimum 17 batters until John Jaso's two-out double in the sixth.
Not bad for a guy who doesn't often hit 90 mph with his fastball.
Cubs sweep Pirates with 6-5 victory
On most days, Kris Bryant's three solid plays at third base would have covered the defensive highlights for the Chicago Cubs.
This time, Bryant had to settle for a perfect view of Addison Russell's sliding grab in the seventh inning.
"I had a front-row seat and that was one of the best catches I've seen," Bryant said.
Bryant hit his 36th homer and Russell drove in two runs to help the Cubs to a 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night, completing a series sweep. But it was the defense by the left side of Chicago's All-Star infield that stole the show.
Russell sprinted over from shortstop and made a terrific catch near the home bullpen, drawing a huge ovation from the crowd of 38,137 at Wrigley Field and several swear words from his incredulous teammates.
Russell's 2-run single in 7th lifts Cubs over Giants 5-4
There it was, another big at-bat staring at Addison Russell. And once again, the young star delivered.
Russell hit a two-run single with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, and three relievers combined for five perfect innings to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 5-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night.
"He's growing up," manager Joe Maddon said. "As a major league baseball player, his confidence could not be higher."
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.
Lester takes no-hitter into 7th, hot Cubs top Giants 2-1
When Anthony Rizzo found out the eight-year anniversary of him being declared cancer-free fell on the same day fellow cancer survivor Jon Lester was pitching, he told Lester he was going to throw a no-hitter.
He came close.
Lester pitched 6 2/3 innings of no-hit ball and settled for his second complete game of the season, helping the Chicago Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 2-1 on Friday to move a season-high 40 games over .500.
It coincided with a Major League Baseball initiative that had players and umpires wearing gold sweatbands to raise awareness for childhood cancer.
"It's a little more special for me and Rizz, just with our foundations and what we've been through," said Lester, who overcame lymphoma a decade ago. "He did say the other day I was going to throw a no-hitter on the kids' strike out cancer day. It would have been pretty cool, but glad we got the win instead."
Heyward delivers in 9th, 13th to lead Cubs over Giants 3-2
The Cubs have soared to the top of the major leagues with little help from Jason Heyward in his first season in Chicago.
If their $184 million man can start delivering like he did Sunday, look out.
Heyward tied it with a single in the ninth inning and his liner to left-center in the 13th won it as the Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 3-2 on Sunday to take three of four games in a possible playoff preview.
"It's huge because we have a good team," Heyward said of his recent uptick, "and when you add that to it, it just makes us that much better."
Anthony Rizzo led off the 13th with a single off Matt Reynolds (0-1) and went to second on Ben Zobrist's groundout.Addison Russell, who had three hits, was walked intentionally before Heyward drove in his third run of the game.
Hendricks, late hits lift Cubs over Brewers 7-2
With a short turnaround after an extra-inning game, the Chicago Cubs needed major league ERA leaderKyle Hendricks to provide a strong start Monday afternoon.
Hendricks delivered six strong innings and the Cubs broke away late to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-2.
"After like really awkward games, he has really picked us up," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That's just who he is. He normally gets you deeply into the game."
"That's who he is, man. You pretty much have an idea what you're going to get when he goes out there," he said.
Pinch hitter Chris Coghlan came through with a go-ahead single in a two-run seventh. He stayed in the game and got a two-run single in a four-run eighth for the NL Central leaders.
Hendricks (14-7) gave up one run - on Chris Carter's 33rd homer - and five hits in six innings, and left with a 2.07 ERA. He is 5-0 with a 1.30 ERA over his last seven starts.
Bryant, Lester help Cubs over Astros 2-0
Kris Bryant gave the Houston Astros an up-close look at what could have been.
It was Bryant's first career game against the team that passed on him with the first pick in the 2013 draft to take starter Mark Appel, who was traded to Philadelphia this offseason before ever playing in the majors. Before the game Chicago manager Joe Maddon had a simple answer when he was asked about Houston's decision not to draft Bryant.
"Thank you," Maddon said with a smile.
Bryant seemed to have grown weary of all the rehashing of that draft in the last few days, but seemed amused when he was asked if he likes hitting in Houston.
"Yeah, (batting practice) was fun for sure," he said. "Just don't hit it to center."
Russell, Soler homer lead Cubs in 9-5 win over Astros
On a night when Jake Arrieta did not have his best stuff, the Chicago Cubs' offense offered more than enough support.
Soler hit a solo home run as part of Chicago's four-run third, and Russell hit a two-run shot - his 20th of the season - in the fourth as the Cubs built a 9-0 lead.
"We came out ready to play," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. "We always do, but there was a little bit of juice about the whole game. Everybody was really raring to go and I thought we did a wonderful job of getting on top like we did."
Chicago extended its lead in the NL Central to 16 games over St. Louis.
Hendricks loses no-hit bid in 9th, Cubs beat Cardinals 4-1
Kyle Hendricks was so good Monday night he even surprised himself.
The right-hander took a no-hitter into the ninth inning before giving up Jeremy Hazelbaker's leadoff home run, and the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 to close in on the NL Central crown.
"I never thought I'd get that close to one," Hendricks said. "A guy who throws to contact and doesn't throw hard, you don't think about it. You can run into one of those special days and you think, why not?
"My pregame bullpen was probably the worst I've had all year. Hopefully it clicks once the game starts, and it did."
All the way until the ninth inning.
Hazelbaker drove an 0-2 pitch into the right-field stands for his 12th homer before Hendricks (15-7), the major league ERA leader at 2.03, was relieved by Aroldis Chapman.
"If you're going to give it up, at least it's that way and not a cheap hit," Hendricks said. "I just left the ball up and he got it. It was just a changeup and I wanted to throw it in the dirt and get him to chase."
Rizzo's 2 HRs help Cubs beat Cardinals, clinch playoff spot
Jon Lester gave the Chicago Cubs a much-needed boost.
Anthony Rizzo hit a pair of home runs and Lester pitched eight dominant innings as the Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-0 on Wednesday to clinch a playoff berth.
The Cubs improved their major league-best record to 93-52, and their magic number is one to clinch their first NL Central title since 2008. They can wrap up the division crown Thursday night with a win at home over Milwaukee or a St. Louis loss in San Francisco.
Chicago secured at least a wild card because the four-game series between the Cardinals and Giants makes it impossible for both to catch the Cubs in the standings.
"I'll tell you, if you were in that dugout at the beginning of the game, the guys were dead on their feet," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. "To play the kind of game we did today - really hot, last game of a long road trip - I give them a ton of credit. (Lester) really played into all that."
Montero homers as Cubs rally for 5-4 win over Brewers
Miguel Montero and the Chicago Cubs were going to celebrate no matter what happened in Friday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
One sweet swing by the veteran catcher turned it into one raucous party.
Montero homered in the 10th inning, and the Cubs celebrated the NL Central title with a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Brewers.
"It all worked out pretty good," a champagne-soaked Montero cracked.
The Cubs became the first major league team to clinch their division when St. Louis lost at San Francisco late Thursday night. They had a chance to wrap it up in front of their delirious fans at Wrigley Field earlier Thursday, but Scooter Gennett's tiebreaking two-run double in the seventh lifted Milwaukee to a 5-4 win.
A day later, they put a stylish finish on their summer-long dominance of the Central.
Hammel, Fowler help Cubs rally for 5-2 win over Reds
The loaded Chicago Cubs are going to have to make some difficult decisions when they set their postseason roster.
From pitcher Jason Hammel's perspective, it's a matter of making it as tough on them as possible.
Hammel tossed seven solid innings and Dexter Fowler hit a tiebreaking single during Chicago's three-run seventh, leading the Cubs to a 5-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.
"This team continues to prove as long as you hang around for a little while they're going to put up something," Hammel said. "They'll make it exciting, so kudos to those guys (for) putting some good at-bats together late."
Hammel (15-9) allowed two runs and four hits during his best outing in a month, improving to 7-0 with 0.98 ERA in his last seven home starts. The right-hander had been struggling of late, going 1-4 with an 8.61 ERA in his previous five starts overall.
Lester wins 18th, Rizzo drives in 104th as Cubs top Reds 6-1
Joe Maddon rushed to the mound, uncertain where the ball had hit his star pitcher. But Lester got up and wanted nothing of the visit, brushing off his manager just as he waved off curious reporters after the game.
"It's my right hand," Lester said. "I don't need it."
Lester overcame the injury scare to throw seven strong innings, Anthony Rizzo drove in three runs and the Chicago Cubs moved closer to securing the NL's best record with a 6-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
Lester (18-4) extended his scoreless streak to 21 innings before Jose Peraza's RBI triple in the fifth. He allowed six hits, struck out five, walked none and added an RBI double. Lester improved to 9-0 since the All-Star break despite the welt on his right wrist.
"It could have been a lot worse," Maddon said.
Cubs sweep Reds with 9-2 victory
John Lackey was cruising along when Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon hit for the right-hander in the eighth inning.
Finding some work for his bullpen is Maddon's biggest problem these days.
Lackey got his first win in six weeks and Miguel Montero drove in three runs, helping the Cubs sweep the Cincinnati Reds with a 9-2 victory on Wednesday night.
"I definitely felt like I got better as the game went along," Lackey said.
Kris Bryant hit his 38th homer and Dexter Fowler also connected as major league-leading Chicago moved a season-high 42 games over .500. The Cubs (97-55) also matched their win total from a year ago and lowered their magic number for clinching home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs to two over Washington.
Cubs beat Cardinals 5-0 for 98th win, most since 1945
Jake Arrieta almost certainly won't win a second straight NL Cy Young Award. He likely won't be the No. 1 or 2 postseason pitcher for the loaded Chicago Cubs, either.
Arrieta showed Friday he can still dominate. And he figures it's because he's stopped trying so hard.
Arrieta struck out 10 in seven innings and the Cubs beat the sloppy St. Louis Cardinals 5-0 for their 98th victory, the most since they last played in the World Series in 1945. Chicago clinched home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.
"A lot of the time more effort creates some inconsistencies in my delivery," Arrieta said. "Trying to do more than I have to. I had several outs today where I took my foot off the gas and I was at 60-70 percent and got nice, easy groundballs to second base or shortstop."
Manager Joe Maddon said Arrieta looked "familiar" when he struck out the side on 11 pitches in the first inning, a reference to his 22-win 2015 season that included a 1.77 ERA. Arrieta said "competitiveness and stubbornness" have been the reasons his walks, hits and runs are up from a year ago.
Ross helps Cubs edge Cardinals 3-1
Maddon and Lester had a different plan.
"Joe looked at him and said `Have you ever been a part of where the catcher gets taken out of the game before the pitcher?'" Lester said, describing the scene with a big grin. "You can just see him, it's like the kid at the candy store when you tell him he can pick out whatever he wants.
"It was just like the disbelief in his face and slams his mask back over his face and all he can say is `I love you guys. I love you guys. I love you guys.'"
Ross then walked off to another standing ovation from a raucous crowd of 40,859 at Wrigley Field, part of a heartwarming Sunday night for the backup catcher in his last season. He also hit his 10th homer and teamed with Lester for another scoreless performance, helping the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
"It was an amazing night," Ross said.
Cubs rout Pirates 12-2 for 100th win behind Baez's six RBIs
Joe Maddon was proud that his Chicago Cubs reached 100 wins for the first time in 81 years.
Javier Baez hit a grand slam and drove in a career-high six runs while major league ERA leader Kyle Hendricks pitched six scoreless innings as the Cubs got win No. 100 by routing the Pittsburgh Pirates 12-2 on Monday night.
"The hundred is very significant," Maddon said. "It might not mean anything, but I've been on teams that have lost 100 games, so it's kind of nice to be on the other end of the stick. What it means is that we've played consistently all year. It means we come to play every day."
Baez helped the National League Central-champion Cubs reach triple digits in victories for the first time since 1935. He hit his second career grand slam in the fourth inning to extend Chicago's lead to 5-0 and his two-run single capped a six-run sixth that made it 11-0.
Hendricks (16-8) dropped his ERA to 1.99 by scattering seven hits, striking out five and walking none. He has not allowed more than three runs in 22 consecutive starts.
Cubs continue dominance of Pirates in 6-4 win
John Lackey fielded phone calls from plenty of interested teams in the offseason. Yet the veteran pitcher opted for the Chicago Cubs.
Sure, the money was good. The opportunity was even better.
"I had some pretty good offers from other people and I chose this one for a reason," Lackey said. "It's all here."
Looks like it.
Lackey worked through five innings, Chris Coghlan hit a three-run triple and the Cubs held off the staggering Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4 on Tuesday night. Coghlan's second-inning drive off the wall in right-center against Ryan Vogelsong (3-7) gave the NL Central champions all the offense they would need to win for the seventh time in their last eight games. Chicago improved to 101-56, the club's highest victory total since it won 104 games in 1910.
Pittsburgh was eliminated from postseason contention when San Francisco won later Tuesday, ending a run of three-straight playoff appearances.
Zobrist powers Cubs to 7-3 win over Reds
It looks as if Ben Zobrist might be rounding into postseason form, just in time for the Chicago Cubs.
Zobrist homered twice and drove in three runs, helping Chicago beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-3 on Friday night.
"I'm feeling a lot better than I felt in June, July and August," said Zobrist, who helped Kansas City win the World Series last year. "Hopefully, that translates into October."
The Cubs have the majors' best record and clinched the NL Central title with plenty of time to spare, giving Joe Maddon the luxury of resting his regulars. The 35-year-old Zobrist didn't play on Monday or Thursday, and he is 11 for 22 with two homers and eight RBIs in his last seven games.
"He's rested," Maddon said. "With guys like that, that's why you want time off, and (Friday) is what it can look like."
After being down to final out, Cubs rally for 7-4 win at Reds
It looked like the season finale would be a loss for the Cubs until a rally came out of nowhere.
After Kyle Hendricks gave up three runs in the first inning, the Cubs trailed all the way until two outs in the ninth inning. The Reds were up 4-3 and the first two Cubs batters went down to start the inning.
Then an Albert Almora Jr. walk, a Munenori Kawasaki single and a Matt Szczur double gave the Cubs a 5-4 lead. Miguel Montero provided some insurance with a two-run home run. The Cubs picked up a comeback 7-4 win to finish the regular season 103-58, but all eyes were on what was still ahead.
“This is the day we’ve been waiting for,” Hendricks said. “Now that we’re here, none of that means anything. The playoffs is what it’s all about. If you go out first round – that’s all that matters – you’re done.”