Cubs hold off Mariners for 7-6 win
On the kind of day that Ernie Banks would have liked to have played two, the Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners didn't have any more innings left in them Sunday afternoon.
After playing extra-inning games on Friday and Saturday, the Cubs and Mariners took another game down to the final at-bat before Chicago held on for a 7-6 victory in the rubber match of the three-game series.
Chicago (35-45) built a six-run lead after four innings and held on despite three Seattle home runs in the seventh and eighth innings, during which the Mariners (35-47) scored four runs to pull within 7-6.
Cubs reliever Kevin Gregg pitched a perfect ninth inning, including a game-ending strikeout of Seattle's Kendrys Morales with the bases empty, to hold off the Mariners while earning his 13th save of the season.
After splitting a pair of extra-inning games, the two teams took the field under sunny skies and temperatures in the upper-80s Sunday afternoon.
The Cubs had six doubles over the first four innings, during which they built a 7-1 lead. Anthony Rizzo drove in runs during the three-run second inning and the four-run fourth to help end a streak of four consecutive solid starts for Seattle's Jeremy Bonderman.
Bonderman (1-2) didn't make it out of the fourth inning, having allowed six runs -- four of them were earned -- off six hits while walking two and hitting a batter.
The early lead appeared to be enough for Chicago starter Edwin Jackson (4-10), who snapped a personal two-game losing streak with a six-inning, three-run performance Sunday, but the Cubs didn't make it easy on themselves.
After the sixth inning, Seattle hit three home runs, including Raul Ibanez's 19th of the season on a solo shot in the eighth. Ibanez closed out the month of June with 10 homers, becoming the first Mariner since Edgar Martinez in May 2003 to hit 10 in a single month. Ibanez has hit 17 home runs over his past 42 games.
Ibanez got another chance to play the hero in the bottom of the ninth, when he came to the plate with one out and no one on base, but Gregg got him to ground out to second base before striking out Morales swinging on a 3-2 pitch to finish off a seven-pitch at-bat.
Jason Bay's leadoff homer in the bottom of the seventh pulled Seattle to within 7-3, and Jackson lasted only one more batter before Shawn Camp came on in relief. Camp got Jackson and the Cubs out of a jam with three consecutive outs to end the seventh, but he gave up three straight hits to open the eighth, including home runs by Ibanez and Kyle Seager. The latter home run, which ended an 0-for-19 slump for Seager, was a two-run shot that cut the Chicago lead to 7-6 with no one out.
Four of the first five Chicago batters in the top of the second inning doubled off Bonderman, accounting for three runs as the Cubs jumped out to a 3-0 lead. That matched the total of runs Bonderman had allowed over the 19 1/3 innings of his previous three starts combined.
After Seattle got one run back on a Nick Franklin RBI in the bottom of the third, Chicago's Darwin Barney started up the doubles parade again by leading off the fourth with a double down the left-field line. He came around to score on the next at-bat, this time a two-bagger of the other variety when Mariners third baseman Seager let a Welington Castillo ground ball get through his legs to bring home Barney for a 4-1 Cubs lead.
Two batters later, Starlin Castro drove Castillo home with a single to give Chicago a 5-1 lead and end Bonderman's outing after just 3 1/3 innings.
Alfonso Soriano and Anthony Rizzo had RBI hits off reliever Blake Beavan as Chicago took a 7-1 lead into the bottom of the fourth.
Beavan went 4 2/3 innings, his longest stint as a reliever, and allowed just one run while giving the Mariners a chance to get back in the game.
Seattle rookie Nick Franklin followed teammate Brad Miller's first Major League hit with a two-out, RBI single off Jackson in the fifth.
The Mariners chased Jackson in the seventh, when Bay led off with a solo homer and Miller doubled before reliever Camp retired three consecutive batters to maintain Chicago's 7-3 lead.
Jackson gave up seven hits, his highest total since June 2, but earned his first win since beating the Mets on June 14.
After going 1-7 with a 6.11 ERA in April and May, Jackson went 3-4 with a 5.19 ERA in June.
Notes: Chicago scored seven runs over the first four innings, despite having only two singles and no home runs. During the stretch, the Cubs drove in one run at a time, with RBIs on six different at-bats and a seventh run scored on Seager's error. ... Seager booted another grounder in the sixth, but batter Nate Schierholtz was credited with an infield single because of a bad hop that tricked Seager while he was the only Seattle infielder on the left side of second base on a shifted infield. ... Cubs starter Jackson had six strikeouts Sunday, but his catcher had trouble finishing off half of them. Castillo failed to come up with the ball on three of Jackson's third strikes and had to throw the batter out at first base. ... Seattle's Bay hit his second home run of the series, and his 10th of the season, Sunday. All 10 of his homers this year have been solo shots. ... Mariners OF Dustin Ackley (thumb) sat out Sunday's game but could be available as soon as Tuesday, manager Eric Wedge said before the game. ... Before Sunday's game, the Mariners traded OF Eric Thames to Baltimore for IF Ty Kelly. The 26-year-old Thames was hitting .297 in 57 games at Triple-A Tacoma but lost his spot on the 40-man roster when Seattle activated OF Franklin Gutierrez from the 60-day disabled list on June 22.
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