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Settling the Score: Saturday’s results

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Jon Lester allowed nine hits but yielded only one earned run Saturday at Wrigley Field as the Cubs defeated the visiting Pirates by a score of 4-1.

That’s now six straight victories for Chicago — the longest current winning streak in the major leagues.

Lester was a little shaky in his four starts with the Cubs, but the $155 million left-hander has found a groove as the weather has begun to warm. Since the first of May, Lester owns a 1.67 ERA in 27 innings.

Anthony Rizzo, meanwhile, continues to emerge as one of the very best hitters in baseball. He went 2-for-3 with a stolen base and an RBI on Saturday afternoon, and the 25-year-old first baseman is now batting .349/.469/.612 over 161 plate appearances.

With the Cardinals losing Saturday to the Tigers, the Cubs are only three games back of first place.

Your box scores and recaps from Saturday …

Braves 5, Marlins 3

Rays 4, Twins 6

Tigers 4, Cardinals 3 (10 innings)

Pirates 1, Cubs 4

Angels 6, Orioles 1

Diamondbacks 5, Phillies 7

Yankees 5, Royals 1

Giants 11, Reds 2

Blue Jays 5, Astros 6

Brewers 1, Mets 14

Indians 10, Rangers 8

Nationals 4, Padres 1

White Sox 4, Athletics 3

Red Sox 4, Mariners 2

Rockies 7, Dodgers 1

Travis Wood will stay in the Cubs’ bullpen

Travis Wood
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Travis Wood earned his first career save on Saturday, closing out the Cubs’ 4-1 win against the Pirates. Bruce Miles of the Chicago Daily Herald reports that the Cubs intend to keep Wood, who has struggled as a starter, in the bullpen. The Cubs will discuss their plans for the rotation on Sunday. Miles suggests Tsuyoshi Wada will most likely take Wood’s rotation spot.

Wada has been pitching at Triple-A Iowa, where he has compiled a 2.86 ERA with a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 34 2/3 innings. He made 13 starts at the big league level last year, finishing with a 3.25 ERA and a 57/19 K/BB ratio in 69 1/3 innings.

Video: Pirates lose in the 12th after Gregory Polanco stumbles in the outfield

Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco, Staring Marte
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The Pirates found one of the more embarrassing ways to lose on Friday afternoon against the Cubs. After falling behind 7-1 after five innings, the Pirates rallied for four runs in each of the sixth and eight innings before tying the game at 10-10 in the ninth inning. A win after all of that work sure would have felt nice for the Buccos.

Reliever Radhames Liz started the 12th inning and quickly got the first out with a strikeout of Kris Bryant. But he walked Starlin Castro, then allowed a single to Miguel Montero, which sent Castro to third base. Liz intentionally loaded the bases by intentionally walking Jorge Soler to bring up Matt Szczur. Szczur sent a fly ball to Gregory Polanco in shallow right field. Polanco, coming in, stumbled and slipped, allowing the fly ball to drop and send the winning run home for an 11-10 Cubs victory.

It was, uh, not pretty. Sadly, it erases the great play Polanco made to save the Pirates’ bacon in the 10th inning when he made a catch in shallow right field then threw out Castro at the plate for an inning-ending double play.

And That Happened: Thursdays’s scores and highlights

Carlos Gonzalez
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Rockies 5, Dodgers 4: The Rockies’ nightmarish 11-game losing streak is over, thanks to Carlos Gonzalez’ three-run homer with two outs in the ninth. There was an 85-minute rain delay during the sixth inning. In Los Angeles. Everything Albert Hammond ever told me was a lie. Wait, maybe not everything. He also had a song called “I Don’t Wanna Die in an Air Disaster,” and I’ll take him at his word for that.

Cubs, 6, Mets 5: Dexter Fowler homered and scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball in the seventh as the Cubs complete a four game sweep of the Mets. This after New York took a 5-1 lead in the fifth. Anthony Recker had a pair of solo home runs but, you know, also allowed that passed ball. After that play, every Mets fan I know on Twitter reverted to classic “everything is awful and we are doomed” mode. Which is to say, everything is normal again.

Padres 8, Nationals 3: Cory Spangenberg hit two homers. He also has a name that really belongs on a tight end in the NFL circa 1979 or so. Derek Norris homered, tripled and drove in five runs. His name is pretty standard-issue 2000-teens baseball.

Astros 6, Blue Jays 4: Astros batters were struck out 13 times by Jays pitchers. Jays batters were only struck out once by Astros pitchers. If you didn’t know the score and you were wagering I’d imagine you’d put a ton of money on the proposition that the Jays won this game, but such is life with the hacktastic Astros. Preston Tucker had three hits and an RBI and the Astros rallied for four runs in the seventh for the come-from-behind victory. They’ve won ten come-from-behind games already this year.

Cardinals 2, Indians 1: After being dominated by Corey Kluber on Wednesday, Trevor Bauer shut the Cardinals down again on Thursday, striking out ten and not allowing any runs while pitching into the eighth. Then, with his 110th pitch Bauer gave up a walk. Terry Francona took that as a sign that he was losing it and replaced him with Marc Rzepczynski, who promptly have up a two-run homer to Matt Carpenter and that’s all that ended up mattering. Baseball, man.

Phillies 4, Pirates 2: Aaron Harang tossed eight shutout innings as he continues to audition to be traded to a contender at some point this summer. He’s now 4-3 with a 2.03 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. Ryan Howard hit a homer which I guess still happens sometimes.

Tigers 13, Twins 1: Miguel Cabrera had two homers and five RBI as the Tigers’ offensive attack was ridiculous. But what makes the Tigers better this year than last may not be the offense but this sort of thing:

 

Royals 6, Rangers 3: I guess the Royals are the opposite. Known for their defense and stuff, what makes them better this year is that they’re beating the hell out of the ball. Tops in batting average in all of baseball, third in runs per game. Alcides Escobar drove in three on three hits and scored twice. Eric Hosmer hit a two-run homer. He’s got an 11-game hitting streak working.

Reds 4, Giants 3: Tim Lincecum had thrown 15 scoreless innings heading into the game but was a mess in this one, walking five, hitting a batter, throwing a wild pitch and allowing three runs in four and two-thirds. He also did this:

 

He plants his foot way farther ahead than a lot of guys do, so you have to assume there were some issues with the mound. Either way, not his best night. Marlon Byrd, in contrast, had a good night: He hit a two-run single and a tiebreaking solo homer.

Rays 6, Yankees 1: Erasmo Ramirez and Matt Andriese combined on a five-hitter to stifle the Bombers. The only misstep was a solo homer given up to A-Rod, but that was in the ninth inning and there was nothing doing for the Yankees otherwise. Rene Rivera provided all the pop the Rays needed and then some, hitting a three-run homer in the second and an RBI single in the fourth.

Red Sox 2, Mariners 1: Two good starting pitching performances in a row for Boston. What is this world coming to? Here it was Joe Kelly, allowing one run in six and a third. He got a no-decision, though, as it was tied into the ninth until Brock Holt doubled and scored the go-ahead run on a Rickie Weeks error. Big game for Shane Victorino who hit a solo homer in the fourth and made this gem of a play in the seventh, ranging to the track for the catch and doubling off the runner at first:

Cubs rally to complete four-game sweep of Mets

Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Hector Rondon (56) and catcher Miguel Montero (47) react after defeating the New York Mets 6-5 in a baseball game Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)
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Thanks to a little help from the Mets, the Cubs rallied for a 6-5 win this afternoon at Wrigley Field to finish off a four-game sweep.

The Mets got out to an early 5-1 lead behind two home runs from Anthony Recker, a solo shot from Wilmer Flores, and a two-run single from John Mayberry, Jr., which chased Travis Wood from the ballgame. However, the Cubs tied things up against Jon Niese by batting around in the bottom of the fifth inning. A throwing error from Wilmer Flores helped open the door for more damage, but Niese gave up four hits and a walk in the frame.

Niese stuck around until the seventh inning when he gave up a one-out single to Dexter Fowler before hitting Anthony Rizzo with a pitch. He was relieved by Hansel Robles, who got Kris Bryant to fly out to right field, but Fowler moved over to third base on the play and eventually came around to score the go-ahead run when Recker was charged with a passed ball during Starlin Castro’s at-bat. Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon followed with scoreless innings to finish off the victory for Chicago.

This was the Cubs’ first four-game sweep at Wrigley Field since May 29-June 1, 2008 against the Rockies and their first four-game sweep against the Mets since August 6-9, 1992.

The Mets are 7-12 since their 11-game winning streak and now sit at 20-15 on the year, just one game ahead of the Nationals in the National League East. As for the Cubs, they improved to 19-15 on the year with the sweep and find themselves five games behind the first-place Cardinals in the National League Central.