Cubs top D-backs for first win in NL West park

Cubs top D-backs for first win in NL West park

Cubs top D-backs for first win in NL West park
PHOENIX -- The Cubs finally figured out how to win out west.

Bryan LaHair hit a two-run single to highlight a four-run sixth inning and lift the Cubs to a 7-2 victory over the mistake-prone D-backs, snapping their losing streak at seven games. With the win, Chicago also avoided its 100th loss of the year, something done only twice in franchise history.

The Cubs were eliminated from the postseason long ago, but they do have something to play for.

"I think for the guys out there [Monday], it could be our little playoff atmosphere to stay away from that number," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said, not even wanting to whisper 100. "I think there will be a little enthusiasm in the dugout [Monday] to try to take care of business and, obviously, win the last [three]. It'll be fun, as much fun as we can have in this season, to try to avoid it."

Anthony Rizzo had three hits, including an RBI double, as the Cubs won for the first time on the road in a National League West ballpark. No team has ever gone winless on the road against one division, and the Cubs finished 1-18 out west: San Francisco (0-4), Arizona (1-5), Los Angeles (0-3), San Diego (0-3) and Colorado (0-3). The 2002 Brewers went 1-14 on the road against the NL East.

They may still want new suitcases for next year. The Cubs ended the road schedule with a franchise-record 58 losses, topping the old mark of 56 set in 1956.

The Cubs close with three games at Wrigley Field against the Astros, who will be playing their final series as a National League team. A Chicago sweep, and the Cubs would avoid becoming the first team to lose 100 games since the 1966 ballclub went 59-103.

"It's been on our minds for the entire month," Rizzo said of the possibility of losing 100 games. "We've got to play these next three games as hard as we can and come up with 'W's' any way we can."

Rookie Chris Rusin (2-3) picked up the win in his final start, giving up one earned run on three hits over five innings. He also gave the Cubs' front office something to think about. The lefty, who spent most of the season at Triple-A Iowa, finished with 173 innings combined, 34 more than he totaled in 2011. He's learned a lot.

"It's tough, because everything is thrown at you," Rusin said of his first big league stint. "You really want to do well, because you feel this is your only opportunity to make a good first impression. I try not to worry about that. Today was my last outing, and I wanted to give it my all and whatever happened, happened, and just have a good time out there."

David DeJesus doubled to lead off against Josh Collmenter and scored one out later on Rizzo's double. But the D-backs erased that in their half. Arizona had the bases loaded with two outs when Cody Ransom hit a weak grounder toward third, which Luis Valbuena overran. A run scored on the hit, and Rusin retrieved the ball and threw home, but Anthony Recker couldn't get his glove on it, and a run scored on the catcher's error.

The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, and one out later, pinch-hitter Dave Sappelt hit a run-scoring infield single. Recker was hit by a pitch to force in another run, and LaHair then lined a two-run single to right. But the inning ended as LaHair was caught between first and second on the play.

That was one of two baserunning gaffes. In the third, Rizzo doubled, and was picked off when he was walking off the base. He thought Alfonso Soriano had struck out, but instead it was only the second strike of the at-bat.

"It's like a vitamin. One a day," Sveum said of the strange baserunning mistakes. "It's stuff you don't teach it and don't see it. It's strange stuff, it's unbelievable."

What happened?

"Rizzo thought there were two strikes and two outs and thought Soriano struck out, and started walking off," Sveum said. "LaHair got caught -- [first base coach Dave] McKay was telling him to go and draw the throw and we could score the run on the backside. It's one of those plays, you've got the outfielder where you want him. You can go, and if he throws to first, you walk into second. If he throws to second, you score the back-end run."

The Cubs did work on that in Spring Training.

"It's something that comes up rarely during the season," Sveum said of Rizzo's mistake. "Two strikes, two outs, you're not teaching that. We've got some pretty big scoreboards out here to let you know [the count]. You have no explanation for those."

Rizzo took the blame.

"I just thought there were two strikes, two outs and I did the right thing if there were two strikes, two outs, but there wasn't," he said. "It is embarrassing, because I know Dale has to answer those questions. ... I'm happy we came up with a win."

So were his teammates. There was postgame music in the clubhousefor the first time in what seemed like forever, and the flight to Chicago won't seem as long.

"I guess if you're going to win one, it might as well be the last one on the West Coast," Sveum said. "It's nice we got some breaks and a key hit from LaHair and add on with the home run [by DeJesus in the ninth]. Before that, it wasn't the prettiest thing, either."

It's a win.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.