Anthony Rizzo really does love batting leadoff: Smacks another homer as part of three-hit day in Cubs' win

Anthony Rizzo really does love batting leadoff: Smacks another homer as part of three-hit day in Cubs' win

It's true what they say: Anthony does love batting leadoff.

Anthony Rizzo kept the leadoff magic going Sunday, getting three hits, scoring three runs and driving in two with a seventh-inning home run that broke the game open and allowed the Cubs to cruise to a 7-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Rizzo has absolutely mashed in five games as the team's leadoff hitter, 9-for-22 with two doubles, three homers, eight RBIs and six runs scored.

Sunday he got things started again, doubling on the game's first pitch — he's got a single, a double, a walk and two homers in five plate appearances to leadoff games — and scored two batters later on Willson Contreras' double.

[CUBS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Contreras drove in two more with another double in the third inning to make it 3-0, and Javy Baez scored on a Jon Jay base hit in the fourth to make it 4-0. Rizzo's two-run shot in the seventh took a tight 4-1 affair to a five-run ballgame, and Ian Happ extended that lead with a solo homer in the ninth, his third homer in his last five games.

John Lackey picked up the win, throwing well in a bounce-back performance. He allowed just one run on just two hits in his six innings of work. This follows back-to-back losses against the Miami Marlins and New York Mets in which he surrendered a combined nine runs in 11 innings.

The Cubs returned to .500 with the win, bringing their record to 34-34. They come back to Wrigley Field for a three-game set with the San Diego Padres before hitting the road again.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998


Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

An off-day did nothing to slow down the 1998 National League MVP as Sosa collected his second straight 2-homer game May 27 of that season.

He went deep in the eighth and ninth innings of a Cubs' 10-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, driving in 3 runs. 

The first homer - off Darrin Winston - was an absolute blast, traveling an estimated 460 feet. The second shot was tame in comparison with only 400 feet as a recorded distance.

In a matter of two games, Sosa raised his season OPS from .930 to .988 and his slugging percentage from .521 to .577 thanks to a pair of 2-homer contests.

Fun fact: Doug Glanville - former Cubs outfielder and current NBC Sports Chicago analyst - was the Phillies leadoff hitter that day in 1998, collecting three hits and scoring a pair of runs.

Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis


Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis

Yu Darvish now has more trips to the disabled list in a Cubs uniform than wins.

The Cubs place their 31-year-old right-handed pitcher on the DL Saturday evening with right triceps tendinitis. The move is retroactive to May 23, so he may only have to miss one turn through the rotation.

In a corresponding move, Randy Rosario was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to provide Joe Maddon with another arm in the bullpen. Tyler Chatwood will start Sunday in Darvish's place.

Thanks to two off-days on the schedule last week, the Cubs should be fine with their rotation for a little while. Jon Lester could go on regular rest Monday, but the Cubs would need to make a decision for Tuesday given Kyle Hendricks just threw Friday afternoon.

That decision could mean Mike Montgomery moving from the bullpen to the rotation for a spot start, or it could be the promotion of top prospect Adbert Alzolay from Triple-A Iowa.

Either way, this is more bad news for Darvish, who has had a rough go of it since he signed a six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs in February.

Between issues with the weather, the concern of arm cramps in his debut in Miami, leg cramps in Atlanta, a trip to the disabled list for the flu, trouble making it out of the fifth inning and now triceps tendinitis, it's been a forgettable two months for Darvish.

He is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 40 innings with the Cubs.

Over the course of 139 career starts, Darvish is 57-45 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and has averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings.