CHICAGO -- Jason Hammel paved the way for the Cubs on a rainy Saturday at Wrigley Field, giving up two runs and only one hit over seven innings in a 5-3 win over the D-backs. Hammel also had a two-out, two-run single in the fourth inning that put the Cubs ahead on the way to their 10th win in 11 games.
"Give Jason credit," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He pitched really well under an awkward circumstance with the weather, gives up an early home run and settles in -- not unlike what Jon Lester did the other day. Outstanding. Plus, he gets another big hit on top of it. Another good day for Jason."
Hammel overcame an early mistake after Jake Lamb deposited a 1-0 fastball into the right-field seats for a two-run homer in the first inning. Despite allowing Dexter Fowler's leadoff homer, Arizona starter Edwin Escobar held the Cubs to one run through the first three innings. But things unraveled for him in the fourth inning of his second Major League start. Escobar left after 3 2/3 frames, surrendering four earned runs on five hits and two walks.
As good as Hammel was, Travis Wood got the game's most important out in the eighth, when Rickie Weeks Jr. lined out on a full count with the bases loaded to end the inning and preserve the Cubs' lead. Anthony Rizzo tacked on a home run for good measure in the Cubs' half of the eighth, and the D-backs lost for the fifth time in six games. The Cubs improved to 39-15, adding to the second-best start in franchise history and moving to a season-high 24 games over .500.
"Right now, we're playing hard," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "We just have to clean up the defense a little bit. We're giving them too many outs. Against a good team -- especially the Cubs right now and the way they're playing -- you cannot give those extra outs."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED He keeps going: For the third time this season, Fowler got the Cubs' lineup off to the best start possible, hitting a leadoff home run to left field on a 3-2 count for his seventh home run this season. It was the 17th leadoff shot of his career.
Who's got it? The Cubs' three-run fourth inning could have had quite a different look had Rizzo's pop to left-center been caught. Left fielder Yasmany Tomas, center fielder Chris Owings and Lamb all converged but could not come up with the ball. Had they caught it, the Cubs may have only gotten one run that inning. Lamb was shifted over up the middle, and his inexperience going back on balls hurt him in this instance.
"You're putting Jake in a tough spot, because he's going out almost like a shortstop or second baseman -- and that's why the shifting is difficult," said Hale.
"I have to go to that ball like it's my ball, and if I get called off, I get called off," said Lamb. "I'm taking responsibility for that one. At the end of the day, I've got to go after it until I hear something."
One way or another:Jorge Soler appeared to have tied the game in the fourth, when he doubled to the left-field gap with Rizzo and Ben Zobrist on base. But Soler's ball ended up stuck in the Wrigley Field ivy. Tomas raised his arms near the wall and the play was ruled a ground-rule double, meaning Zobrist returned to third instead of scoring from first. After striking out Addison Russell, Arizona intentionally walked David Ross to bring up Hammel, who delivered with a ground ball up the middle that bounced off second base for a two-run single.
"I'm glad second base is where second base is, because it helped, obviously," Hammel said. "I don't know if [Jean] Segura makes that play up the middle." More >
Left 'em loaded: After Tomas homered to lead off the eighth, the D-backs managed to load the bases with two outs. Maddon brought in Wood to face the lefty-swinging Lamb, who was batting .118 on the year against southpaws. Hale countered with the righty-hitting Weeks and he worked an eight-pitch at-bat before lining out to second base.
"I've faced him plenty of times in the past," Weeks said. "Trying to find a strike over the plate and he gave me two that I fouled straight back. I made some good contact there, but just lined out to second base." More >
"I did not want to face Lamb. I did not. I thought they might pinch-hit. I had not seen enough of Weeks to know where he's at physically. ... I thought that was the better matchup, so we got lucky. Weeks worked a great at-bat. But also give Travis credit for throwing that strike right there." -- Maddon, on the eighth inning
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Cubs are 5-1 against the D-backs this season, only the third time they have won at least five games in a season against Arizona. They went 7-5 against the D-backs in 1998 and 6-1 in 2010.
WHAT'S NEXT D-backs:Patrick Corbin gets the start in the series finale with the Cubs on Sunday afternoon at 11:20 a.m. MST. Corbin suffered through his worst start of the season last time out, when he allowed seven runs over 3 1/3 innings to the Astros.
Cubs:Jake Arrieta starts in the series finale against the D-backs on Sunday at 1:20 p.m. CT. Arrieta threw seven scoreless innings in his latest start against the Dodgers, but took a no-decision in a 5-0 Cubs loss. It snapped a streak of 23 consecutive team wins in Arrieta's starts.