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Cubs see things starting to come together after sweep of Reds

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Cubs see things starting to come together after sweep of Reds

CINCINNATI — The Cubs can keep dancing all the way home.

The music was blasting in the clubhouse again Sunday afternoon after the Cubs' 5-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds to complete a rain-shortened, two-game sweep.

That finished up a 4-2 road trip with a stop in Pittsburgh for four games before Cincinnati.

"I love it," manager Joe Maddon said. "In the division, on the road, two tough venues, two tough teams and to come back with a 4-2 record is not a bad thing."

The 2015 Cubs have had plenty of reasons to dance and celebrate, as the good vibes keep rolling in. Maddon's squad is now 10-7 overall, including a 6-3 record on the road.

"We've done a nice job [on the road]," Maddon said. "I'm telling you, the energy pregame in the dugout is outstanding. The guys are definitely on top of things. They're ready to play. And as a manager, that's all you can ask for."

[MORE: Jake Arrieta refuses to cave in, sets tone for Cubs]

With a roster packed with young, inexperienced talent, it's been a different guy stepping up each game. Friday night, it was Jonathan Herrera in extra innings.

Sunday, it was rookie Addison Russell, who came up with the big hit — a two-out, three-run double in the fourth inning in what ended up as the game-winner.

It was only the third hit of Russell's career, overshadowing a tough stretch that saw him go 0-for-6 with five strikeouts to start off the series against the Reds.

This weekend, it was Herrera and Russell, but rookies Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant have been impressive as well while Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro have provided a steadying presence both in the field and at the plate.

Even the veteran catchers — Miguel Montero and David Ross — got in on the action this weekend, combining for four RBI against the Reds.

[RELATED: Maddon: Castro creating 'good baseball karma' for himself]

And that's not even touching on the pitching, as the bullpen combined for eight shutout innings behind starters Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta.

"It's just kind of a testament to the guys we have here, the young players — they're a little more advanced than most," Arrieta said. "And that kinda helps bridge the gap of the experience. They're going to take their lumps, just like we all will from time to time, but they're ahead of the curve.

"Soler, Bryant, Russell, these guys are polished. Polished to an extent that they can come here and contribute right away. And that's what each and every one of them have been able to do throughout their short time here. We all know it's just going to continue.

"The guys we have around the young players who know how to get the job done, regardless of the jam or whatever happens throughout the game. ... Rizzo's made huge strides, as a leader, as a player. Castro's come a long way.

"If everyone continues to take that step, we can win at a high clip on the road and at home. I think it's all starting to come together for us."

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The season is only three weeks old, but the Cubs are gaining some swagger and starting to gel as a team, holding their celebrations/dance parties in the clubhouse after the game.

"It's good. It's loose," Lester said. "It's fun. It makes you forget about the grind and all that. It makes you have fun and smile and enjoy it. Sometimes people don't understand how hard it is to win a game in the big leagues.

"For us to come in here and celebrate each one of them like it's our last, it's a good feeling when we come in here and win. Even when we lose, guys are upbeat about it, like 'hey, we had our chances, but we didn't come through.'

"It's a good feeling to have when guys play loose, when guys enjoy it, when guys have fun. That gets everybody a chance to kind of relax and just play the game. At the end of the day, if we win, great, if we don't, hey we'll be back tomorrow and do it again."

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Jon Lester returns to the Cubs in typical Lester fashion

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Jon Lester returns to the Cubs in typical Lester fashion

David Haugh, Matt Zahn, Jim Litke and Steve Wilkos join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Steve talks about the new season of "The Steve Wilkos Show". Plus, he talks about being a Chicago sports fan in the Northeast and his love for the Cubs and Bears.

9:30- The Cubs fall to the Dodgers but Jon Lester pitches well in his return.

14:00- Addison Russell begins his minor league assignment. When should the Cubs bring him back up to the majors?

20:30- JJ Stankevitz joins Kap from Halas Hall to discuss the Bears' plans for the draft.

23:00- Robbie Gould wants out of San Francisco. Could he be dealt this weekend during the draft?

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

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Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Jon Lester returns and Addison Russell's future with the Cubs

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Jon Lester returns and Addison Russell's future with the Cubs

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki discuss Lester's return, the upcoming road trip, plus Addison Russell talks about his suspension.

01:00 Lester looked good in his return to the rotation

03:30 Bullpen getting help from unexpected sources

05:00 Was Almora's hair the reason he wasn't hitting homers?

06:45 Kris Byrant looking better at the plate

09:30 Cubs get ready for game at Arizona and Seattle

10:30 Addison Russell's future with the Cubs

18:30 Will Russell be with the Cubs on May 3rd when eligible?

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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