7th-inning rally propels Cubs to win over Boston

 
 
Updated 4/29/2017 11:06 PM
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  • Chicago Cubs' Anthony Rizzo (44) celebrates his two-run home run that also drove in Kris Bryant, left, behind Boston Red Sox's Christian Vazquez, right, during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Saturday in Boston.

    Chicago Cubs' Anthony Rizzo (44) celebrates his two-run home run that also drove in Kris Bryant, left, behind Boston Red Sox's Christian Vazquez, right, during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Saturday in Boston. Associated Press

BOSTON -- It seemed quite proper for Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon to do a little October/November dreaming Saturday.

After all, his defending champions are taking on another talented young team, the Boston Red Sox, in what many prognosticators say could be a Fall Classic matchup.

"I've been a fan of their group for a while," Maddon said before the Cubs beat the Red Sox 7-4 at Fenway Park. "They're just a really, really good group. They've got a great tradition, vibe going on. They're going to be good for many years, also.

"I thought (Friday) night was a really nice first matchup among the youth on both sides. It would be nice to eventually end up in the last seven games of the year between these two teams."

Whether anybody's heart can take another seven-game World Series is a matter we'll get to later.

But Saturday's game featured Fenway in all its glory on a summerlike late afternoon. Young players from both sides figured into the action.

Andrew Benitendi hit a home run off Cubs starting pitcher John Lackey. Cubs young stars Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber got into the action with Schwarber dunking a single into center field to break a 4-4 tie in the seventh inning to highlight a 3-run rally that brought the Cubs back from being down 4-2 in the sixth. Rizzo hit 1 of 3 Cubs homers, and Bryant had a pair of doubles.

It's been a rough go for Schwarber lately. He went 1-for-5 with 4 strikeouts in Friday night's 5-4 loss. He flailed away against knuckleballer Steven Wright Saturday, going 0-for-3 with 2 strikeouts before he singled against left-handed reliever Robby Scott, brought in specficially to face Schwarber.

"Little bit of relief," Schwarber said.

No matter what happens in Sunday night's finale, Schwarber is loving Fenway.

"Oh, it's beautiful," he said. "That's kind of that bucket-list stadium you want to cross off and play at. So whenever you get to come here and play, it's really cool."

Schwarber will trek to the top of the Green Monster in left field sometime Sunday, but he did go inside and sign his name on the inside of the wall.

Lackey, the Cubs' sometimes irascible warhorse, managed to gut out 6 innings to get the win even though he allowed 8 hits and 4 runs. He also exchanged greetings with home-plate umpire Bill Welke over a couple of close calls that didn't go Lackey's way early.

"Just keep fighting," he said. "Until they take the ball from me, keep fighting, keep competing. Try to give your team a chance to win."

The Red Sox did commit 4 errors, but the game was supremely entertaining for the 36,776 in attendance, many of whom were wearing Cubs blue and making their voices heard.

"Two in a row, and I think the fans have been entertained," Maddon said. "When I see this, I just think it's good for the game. It's good for the industry when people can watch a game like this and see young players on both sides the fans can identify with play baseball so well. Of course, you want to win. But beyond all that, the larger picture is two really good teams playing the game properly and hard. Now it's 1 and 1. Let's go for the rubber match tomorrow."

Even after living through the stress of the Cubs' seven-game World Series victory last fall, Maddon says doing it again beats the alternative.

"Doing a steak, having a nice glass of wine, cooking a steak in the backyard, who wants to do that?" he said. "I'd rather be sweating it out in the corner of a dugout. Absolutely."

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