Sweeney's 6 RBIs propel Cubs over Astros
The Chicago Cubs jumped to an early lead for the second straight day and made it stick this time as they beat the Houston Astros 14-6 on Sunday in the finale of a three-game series.
On Saturday, Chicago led 3-0 after five innings but went on to lost 4-3.
Less than 24 hours later the Cubs scored early and often. Ryan Sweeney went 3-for-5 with a career-high six RBIs to lead the way while Anthony Rizzo was 3-for-4 with a homer, four RBIs and four runs scored.
Nate Schierholtz, Alfonso Soriano and Darwin Barney also had multiple-hit days as the Cubs pounded out 16 hits in their second win over the Astros in three tries.
Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija (5-7) shook off one rocky inning as he worked seven while giving up three earned runs and nine hits while striking out five.
Astros right hander Jordan Lyles (4-2) departed after five innings after allowing eight runs -- five earned -- on 10 hits while walking one and striking out three.
The Cubs opened a 1-0 second inning lead after Rizzo doubled to lead off and reached third on Marc Krauss' throwing error. Sweeney grounded to second to drive Rizzo home.
Chicago scored four runs and batted around in the third. The Cubs quickly loading the bases in the third after Samardzija led off with a single and advanced to third when Luis Valbuena reached on an error.
Schierholtz' single up the middle scored Samardzija and Valbuena for a 3-0 lead and deposited Starlin Castro -- who had walked -- on third.
Rizzo's sacrifice fly to center drove in Castro for the game's fourth run. Sweeney made it 5-0 with a two-out double to left that scored Schierholtz.
Houston replied with three runs and sent eight batters to the plate in the fourth.
Jose Altuve singled and Jason Castro doubled down the right field line to open the inning. J.D. Martinez grounded to second to score Altuve and Chris Carter followed with an RBI double to the center field ivy to drive in Castro.
Matt Dominguez' routine grounder to short turned into another run as Starlin Castro's throwing error brought home Carter.
Chicago added three runs in the fifth as Soriano jumped-started the inning with a triple to right and scored on Rizzo's single. Rizzo, in turn, came home on a Sweeney double and later crossed home plate on Barney's base hit to center.
Dominguez singled home Carter in the sixth to cut the Cubs lead to 8-4.
Sweeney clubbed a three-run homer in the seventh off reliever Wade LeBlanc as Chicago's lead grew to 11-4. Valbuena followed with a triple that drove home pinch hitter Scott Hairston to make it 12-4.
Cubs reliever James Russell gave up a run on three hits in the eighth while Carlos Villanueva got out of the inning by striking out pinch-hitter Ronny Cedeno.
Rizzo's two-run home run in the eighth was his 12th of the season and gave Chicago a 14-5 lead.
Hector Rodriguez, the last of four Cubs pitchers, faced bases loaded in the ninth with no outs. Martinez drove in one run when he grounded into a double play. Carter grounded to short to end the game.
Carter led Houston with a 4-for-4 day with two runs scored and a pair of RBIs.
The Cubs have Monday off before opening a three-game series at Milwaukee. Right hander Edwin Jackson (3-9) goes against the Brewers' Kyle Lohse (2-6).
The Astros also resume Tuesday as left-hander Erik Bedard (2-3) duels St. Louis righty Jake Westbrook (3-2) at Minute Maid Park in the opener of a nine-game home stand.
NOTES: The Astros may be struggling in the cellar in their inaugural American League season, but Houston's minor league teams have a collective 183-139 (.568) record through Saturday, second best among all major league organizations. Texas is tops at 187-140 (.572). ... Cedeno was hitting a club-best .325 (13-for-40) in day games this season entering Sunday's series finale. LHP Wesley Wright has not allowed a run in eight day game appearances (8 1/3 innings). ... The Cubs have hit 51 home runs at Wrigley Field through Sunday. Colorado also had 51 at Coors Field entering Sunday. Chicago has also hit 27 home runs on the road, fourth-fewest in the majors. ... RHP Scott Feldman, scheduled to pitch Wednesday in Milwaukee, needs three strikeouts to hit the 500 milestone. ... The Cubs are 8-3 against the American League with nine inter-league games yet to play. ... Soriano remains two homers shy of tying Albert Belle for 63rd on baseball's all-time homer list with 381.
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