CHICAGO -- Cubs starter John Lackey combined with three relievers to stymie the D-backs, 6-0, on a beautiful Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field. The victory was the third in a row for the Cubs, who have won nine of their last 10.
The Cubs improved to 38-15 overall -- their second-best start in franchise history -- and 21-7 at home this season. That includes 7-1 on their current homestand.
"Once you've won this much, kind of regardless of what the score is, you expect something good to happen," Lackey said. "You expect something positive and to find a way to win."
Anthony Rizzo's sixth-inning double to center was the first positive step, offensively, for them in this game. It scored Jason Heyward, and that looked like it might be the game's only run, but the Cubs broke things wide open with a five-run eighth inning. Pinch-hitter Addison Russell and Javier Baez each hit a two-run double in the inning, which was marred by sloppy defensive play by the D-backs.
Lackey (6-2) kept the D-backs off balance in scattering five hits while striking out nine over 6 2/3 innings. Adam Warren, Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm closed things out for the Cubs.
D-backs right-hander Archie Bradley (2-1) nearly matched Lackey pitch for pitch aside from the 1-2 curve that Rizzo smacked over Chris Owings' head in center in the sixth inning. Owings, an infielder by trade, seemed to misread the ball initially off the bat and also slipped while trying to chase it down.
"It was a great game up until the eighth," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "In the eighth inning, we just didn't get it done."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Lackey gets locked in: After needing a double play to get out of the fourth, Lackey breezed through the next 2 2/3 innings. He retired eight in a row, recording five of his nine strikeouts, before leaving with two outs, two on and a 1-0 lead in the seventh. The veteran right-hander struck out four in a row at one point, fanning the final two hitters in the fifth and the first two in the sixth.
"You've got to mix it up," Lackey said. "They've got a pretty good offensive lineup there, so I was locating the fastball pretty good. I established it early on and was throwing some breaking stuff off that. We turned a nice double play there, so two-for-one is always a good thing." More >
10 K's in Archie: Bradley's 10 strikeouts were the most by a D-backs rookie pitcher since Wade Miley on Oct. 1, 2012. The right-hander, who has struck out 19 over his past two starts while allowing four runs in 13 1/3 innings, seems to be able to command all three of his pitches.
"Archie was fantastic," Hale said. "Just a great game. Just can't say enough things [about him]. This team has been rolling and he was able to shut them down, so that was very impressive." More >
Double trouble: The doubles by Russell and Baez broke the game open in the eighth, turning a nail-biting 1-0 lead into a comfortable 6-0 margin that nixed any need for closer Hector Rondon in the ninth. Russell, who entered the game as a defensive replacement, smacked a two-run double down the line in left. Then, after an intentional walk to Miguel Montero, Baez drilled a deep shot off the wall in center to drive in two more before scoring on an errant throw by Owings, who had moved to shortstop. It was Baez's only hit after striking out his first three trips to the plate.
"[Russell] coming off the bench was really huge, getting a good [at-bat]," Baez said. "He came up with the big hit. With the day I had today, I was struggling a little bit at the plate. Obviously, they [preferred] to pitch to me instead of [Montero]. I don't care how many times I strike out. I'm just going to keep trying."
Ugly eighth: The eighth inning was a sloppy one defensively for the D-backs, as they committed a pair of errors that helped open the door to the five-run Cubs rally. Owings threw the ball in the stands on a relay throw for a two-base error and right fielder Chris Herrmann dropped a fly ball. Owings also threw a ball past Paul Goldschmidt at first, but was not charged with an error because the runner did not advance.
"It's just not like us to be throwing the ball around," Hale said. "The defense in the eighth inning was alarming. That's frustrating. We'll address that tomorrow."
"It's not fun to lose. We're here to win and I know it's not fun for our people at home to watch us lose. So guess what? We're just going to have to start winning games."-- Hale
"Good thing it was 'Weli.' It was a friendly shove, of course. I almost gave him a hug after it, but that was bizarre." -- Rizzo, on kiddingly shoving D-backs catcher and former teammate Welington Castillo after being struck in the helmet with Castillo's throw back to the pitcher in the first inningMore >
With one out and Kris Bryant at first in the bottom of the eighth, Rizzo hit a liner to right for a single. Bryant advanced to third, and when Rizzo tried to stretch it into a double, he was called out at second base. Cubs manager Joe Maddon challenged the call, which stood, meaning there was not enough replay evidence to overturn the decision.
WHAT'S NEXT D-backs: Edwin Escobar will make his second start of his Major League career Saturday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field at 11:20 a.m. MST. Escobar was roughed up in his first start last Monday against the Astros, allowing eight runs (seven earned) over 3 1/3 innings. It was his third big league appearance.
Cubs:Jason Hammel will get back on the mound after leaving his last start Monday against the Dodgers early with a cramp in his right hamstring. Hammel, who threw two scoreless innings in the Cubs' 2-0 win, said he's ready to pitch and there are no lingering effects. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT.