Cubs bash three homers in come-from-behind win over Red Sox

Cubs bash three homers in come-from-behind win over Red Sox

BOSTON — The Chicago Cubs adjusted quickly to Steven Wright's knuckleball.

Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run homer, and Miguel Montero had a solo shot off Wright, helping the Cubs rebound from a series-opening loss with a 7-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday.

"I thought we did a nice job. It's just awkward hitting against the knuckleball," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "There is no real training ground for it. You don't necessarily get a guy out there throwing a knuckleball in BP."

All the Cubs faced Wright for the first time.

After collecting just one single in the first three innings, Rizzo's homer started Chicago's comeback from a 3-0 deficit. Montero's shot tied it in the seventh.

"It's just hard. You really don't know what to look for," Montero said before joking "I told the umpire I'm going to close my eyes and swing hard in case I hit it."

Ben Zobrist added a solo homer, and Kris Bryant had two hits and scored twice for Chicago, backing a decent start by former Red Sox righty John Lackey.

Lackey (2-3) gave up four runs in six innings, snapping his string of losses in three straight starts. He was part of Boston's 2013 World Series title team.

Lackey said he texted former teammate Dustin Pedroia on the way to the ballpark.

Hanley Ramirez and Andrew Benintendi had solo homers for the Red Sox, who have the majors' fewest homers. Boston's streak of nine straight interleague wins in Fenway Park was snapped.

Wright (1-3) gave up five runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings.

"I think with the exception of the 0-2 slow knuckleball that Steven threw to Rizzo, this was his best knuckleball that he's had to date," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

Wright has given up nine homers after allowing only 12 last season.

"I felt a lot better today overall," he said. "The one pitch I wish I could get back was that 0-2 pitch to Rizzo. I was trying to get it a little bit more in front of the plate and it kind of stood up a little bit and he made me pay."

Wade Davis pitched the ninth for his sixth save.

With summer-like temperatures for the second straight day and a marquee matchup with the defending champs, there was added buzz around the ballpark hours before the game.

Mixed in the fans flocking around Fenway were numerous Cubs fans wearing jerseys - many with "Sandberg," ''Bryant" or "Rizzo" on the back. There was a loud "Let's Go Cubbies!" in the ninth, and that was followed by some large "W'' flags after the Cubs won - a staple in Wrigley Field.

The Cubs overcame a 4-2 deficit with a run in the sixth inning and three in a seventh that was highlighted by two errors on one play.

Zobrist's run-scoring grounder sliced it to 4-3. Montero homered leading off the seventh against Wright before Kyle Schwarber's RBI single pushed them ahead.

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts threw the ball away for an error on Rizzo's fielder's choice, allowing Schwarber to score. First baseman Mitch Moreland retrieved and fired it into left field.

Jackie Bradley Jr.'s RBI single made it 1-0 in the second.

Benintendi had a sacrifice fly and Ramirez belted his homer over the Green Monster seats completely out of Fenway, a shot estimated at 469 feet, in the third.

Bryant opened the fourth with a hard single and Rizzo followed with his drive to the back of Chicago's bullpen.

Benintendi hit his homer over Boston's bullpen.

Cubs' Anthony Rizzo misses workout, intrasquad game due to lower back tightness

Cubs' Anthony Rizzo misses workout, intrasquad game due to lower back tightness

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, perhaps the only 30-year-old in spring training or Summer Camp history to be able to claim he showed up in the best shape of his life, took Tuesday’s workout and scrimmage off because of lower back tightness.

Rizzo has typically dealt with back tightness annually for a few games each season.

The difference this time is that the three-time All-Star worked out with a personal trainer during baseball’s shutdown and lost 25 pounds in the past three months, dropping a uniform size and drawing raves from teammates and team officials.

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His status is to be evaluated again Wednesday morning.

During Tuesday's three-inning sim game, Willson Contreras homered off Craig Kimbrel in the first inning as the Cubs defeated the Cubs by what is believed to be a 2-0 score.


Cubs players and coaches test negative for COVID-19

Cubs players and coaches test negative for COVID-19

The Cubs’ COVID-19 test results arrived later in the day than they’d hoped. But when general manager Jed Hoyer finally had the list of names in hand Tuesday, his eyes scanned through over 80 negatives. All players and coaches were clear.

Those encouraging results came from Sunday’s testing, making the Cubs the only team in the National League that hasn’t yet had a player test positive.

“Do I think we’ve done everything we can to safeguard thing and put restrictions in?” Hoyer said. “Of course. I don’t think we’re doing a lot of things other teams are doing as well. I think every team is working hard to do this. And there has to be a certain amount of luck in that, let’s be honest.”

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The Cubs have several other factors working in their favor: a veteran group and the guidance of pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, whose harrowing battle with COVID-19 lasted 30 days.

But Hottovy’s story also suggests that luck must be involved.

“He didn’t go much of anywhere,” Bryant said. “I think he went to the field and went to get food at the grocery store, and he got it. So, that’s the scary park. We have to do everything we can to limit that exposure, but the fact is you might be doing everything right and you still might be able to get it.”

The Cubs’ internal messaging has been consistent: everyone needs to take the virus seriously for the sake of the whole club.

Hoyer hopes the Cubs can keep their players from contracting COVID-19 all season, but the team has also heard from medical experts and seen the spread across the country.

“We’re going to face our challenges with that as some point,” Hoyer said. “I think that’s inevitable.

“Do I want to get a negative sheet back every time with 80-something negatives? Of course. I don’t know if we can do that for the whole year, I don’t know if that’s realistic. But I think that has to be the goal for us. It has to be the goal for every team: do everything you can to avoid an outbreak. Be as mindful of every situation as you can. Hopefully we can continue that. But I don’t think we’re doing anything different than other teams. Everyone’s working hard at this.”

Tier 1 individuals, including Cubs players, also were tested on Tuesday, in line with the every-other-day schedule laid out in the 2020 Operations Manual. Hoyer said he believes the delay in results Tuesday was a lingering result of the testing backup over the weekend as the league transitioned from intake testing to a more regular schedule over the Fourth of July.

“I feel like now we’re in that routine,” Hoyer said. “It doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods, but I do think that transition was the challenge and now that we’re past that, I think things will run really well.”

Kyle Ryan remains delayed in reporting to camp for what manager David Ross called “protocol technicalities,” but the Cubs hope he will report by the end of the week.