Schwarber hits key HR as Cubs take 5-game series from Cards

 
 
Updated 7/22/2018 6:26 PM
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  • Chicago Cubs' Kyle Schwarber rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Sunday, July 22, 2018, in Chicago.

    Chicago Cubs' Kyle Schwarber rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Sunday, July 22, 2018, in Chicago. Associated Press

  • Chicago Cubs' Willson Contreras, right, celebrates with first base coach Will Venable after hitting a one-run single during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Sunday, July 22, 2018, in Chicago.

    Chicago Cubs' Willson Contreras, right, celebrates with first base coach Will Venable after hitting a one-run single during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Sunday, July 22, 2018, in Chicago. Associated Press

Kyle Schwarber hit a clutch sixth-inning home run and Jose Quintana threw a team-high 121 pitches as the Cubs pulled off their 32nd comeback victory of the year with a 7-2 win over St. Louis at Wrigley Field on Sunday.

But the biggest take-away after this five-game series -- witnessed by 204,468 fans and won by the Cubs three games to two -- is simple: Holy cow is Anthony Rizzo on fire.

Rizzo's on-base percentage was .739 against the Cardinals over the weekend and he became the first Cubs leadoff hitter to reach four times in three straight games since Brian McRae in August 1996.

"It seemed like he was out there all the time," said manager Joe Maddon. "He's just been working great at-bats, using the whole field. He's not trying to force the issue with pitchers throwing pitches in different areas.

"He's getting back to normal."

Which is great news for the Cubs, who are 15-5 in their last 20 games and now lead Milwaukee by 3½ games in the Central Division.

Rizzo was in an 0-for-19 slump and hitting just .236 when Maddon decided to move his slugger to the leadoff spot at San Diego on July 13. In the eight games since, Rizzo has gone 15-for-27 with 8 walks and 2 hit-batsmen.

"I'm having fun with it," said Rizzo, who is now hitting .262.

Said Schwarber, whose 19th HR snapped a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning: "Rizz did a heckuva job this series. … I know that he's pumped about it.

"We weren't worried about him when his struggles were happening. We know he's going to be right where he needs to be at the end of the year. It's starting to kick in now, which is awesome."

Also awesome was Quintana (9-6). The lefty gave up single runs in the first and fourth innings, then settled down to retire 10 of the last 13 batters he faced.

Maddon even put Quintana back on the mound in the seventh despite the fact he'd thrown 111 pitches.

"We needed that today," Maddon said. "I saw him as getting better (every) hitter."

Said Quintana through an interpreter: "I felt really strong the whole time. I went out there and tried to pitch with as much heart as I could."

After Schwarber made it 3-2 with his homer, the Cubs went up 4-2 on an RBI single by Kris Bryant in the seventh, and they put the game away with a 3-run eighth.

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