Russell rescues Cubs after blowing big lead vs. O's
BALTIMORE -- The Chicago Cubs banged out four homers in the first three innings on Friday night to go ahead 8-0. Then they lost the lead and needed some late help from Addison Russell to pull out a dramatic win to properly start the second half.
Russell hit a tiebreaking solo homer off Brad Brach in the top of the ninth inning as the Cubs shook off blowing an eight-run lead in a 9-8 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
Russell lined a homer to left on the first pitch from Brach (2-2) with one out in the ninth. It was Chicago's fifth homer of the game.
The shortstop's eighth homer this season occurred after Baltimore's Mark Trumbo hit a two-run homer to left against Koji Uehara (3-4) in the eighth that tied the score at 8.
"It feels good to come out with that win," Russell said. "(I was) just looking for a ball in the zone. The biggest thing for me is just making sure I see the pitch, track it, and put a good swing on it."
Russell entered the game stuck in an 0-for-10 skid but went 2-for-4 and raised his average to .230.
Cubs closer Wade Davis pitched the ninth for his 17th save.
The Orioles (42-47) scored eight straight runs after the Cubs took the big early lead. That's a reason why Chicago manager Joe Maddon thought this victory was so important.
"It was really important under the circumstances," Maddon said. "We had such a big lead and then forfeited that lead. That's the part that would've made it even more difficult. Under the circumstances of how that game was played tonight, it was really good to finish it off."
Willson Contreras (three-run) and Kyle Schwarber (solo) both homered as the Cubs (44-45) scored four in the first. Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward added two-run homers in the second and third, respectively, and Chicago took the early eight-run lead.
The Cubs pounded Orioles starter Kevin Gausman for eight runs and seven hits in the three innings. Gausman saw his ERA jump to 6.39, and while he avoided the loss, the right-hander was not happy.
"Yeah, it's frustrating," Gausman said. "Obviously, I wanted to come out here and hit the ground running going into this second half. It was just bad."
The bullpen kept the Orioles in the game after Gausman's rocky start.
Five pitchers combined to allow that one run and three hits in six innings. They struck out six and walked only one.
"It was great," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "That's as good as you could ask, especially with that much time off. We're lucky because with that much time off, we had everybody available."
The Cubs answered a 49-minute rain delay by starting quickly in the first, when Zobrist led off with a double and went to third on a one-out single from Anthony Rizzo. Both came around to score as Contreras crushed a three-run homer to left-center field.
Schwarber added a solo shot on the next pitch, which made it 4-0 against Gausman.
The right-hander found more trouble in the second as Zobrist lined a two-run homer to right.
Heyward added a two-run homer to deep right that made it 8-0 in the third, again off Gausman.
The Orioles answered with a Welington Castillo solo homer in the third and a Chris Davis RBI double off starter Mike Montgomery in the fourth.
The Orioles then put runners at second and third with one out in the fifth, ending Montgomery's night. Justin Grimm entered and allowed RBI singles to Trumbo and Trey Mancini and a Joey Rickard two-run single that sliced the lead to 8-6 before Ruben Tejada flied out, ending the inning.
NOTES: To open a roster spot for 1B Chris Davis, the Orioles outrighted OF Craig Gentry to Triple-A Norfolk. Davis has been on the disabled list since June 14 (retroactive to the previous day) with a right oblique strain. ...The back-to-back homers from C Willson Contreras and DH Kyle Schwarber in the first inning is the fourth time the Cubs have done that this season. ... RHP Kyle Hendricks (hand inflammation, disabled list since June 8) will make a rehab start at Double-A Tennessee. The Cubs are hoping to get him back soon.