Cubs storm back for hard-fought 6-5 win over Red Sox
Four- and five-run deficits are awfully tough to come back from in the major leagues.
Sure, the Dodgers, Mets, Yankees and Astros will pull them off now and again. But bottom-tier teams are normally dead and buried when facing such a hole.
That hasn't been the case with the Cubs, however, as manager David Ross' squad has pulled off two impressive comebacks in less than a week.
The first came Sunday at St. Louis as the Cubs overcame a 5-0 deficit to prevail 6-5 in 10 innings.
The second came Friday at Wrigley Field after Boston opened up a 4-0 lead in the second inning. The Cubs stayed patient, took advantage of 7 walks and a hit batsman in the fifth and sixth innings, and rallied to claim a 6-5 victory in front of 34,931.
Nelson Velazquez's RBI triple in the fifth got the Cubs on the board, but it was Christopher Morel's towering 2-run homer to left field in the sixth that truly turned the tide.
"It was a really nice job of keeping our composure," Ross said. "They kind of punched us in the face early on."
Catcher Willson Contreras, who walked in the third, fifth and sixth innings agreed.
"We're not giving up even though we're down four, five, six runs. We're doing our best to keep the game (close). It really shows that we're gonna be a really good team offensively, defensively."
The bullpen deserves major kudos as well as Brandon Hughes (1-0), Scott Effross, Chris Martin and David Robertson combined to throw 3⅔ innings of 3-hit relief after Adrian Sampson gave up 5 runs (4 earned) in 5⅓ innings.
Martin struck out the side in the eighth after yielding a leadoff single, and Robertson notched his 10th save in his 700th career appearance.
"(The hitters are) seeing the ball really well and they're taking a good approach to the plate," Robertson said. "I can't say enough about those guys; they did an excellent job today."
The Cubs (31-46) have won six of nine and are averaging 7.2 runs over that stretch. They're also on a three-game winning streak for the first time in a month.
This is the third time the Cubs and Red Sox have played at Wrigley Field in the regular season, and things got off to an interesting start when Boston's Jarren Duran belted a home run on Sampson's first pitch of the game.
The roar from the crowd was so loud that one almost had to wonder if the game was at Fenway Park.
"A lot of Red Sox fans out there," Ross said. "Nice to feel that a little bit."
While Sampson didn't have the greatest stat line, he did work out of a big jam in the first inning by inducing a double-play grounder and also sailed through the third, fourth and fifth after Boston made it 4-0 in the second.
"Credit to Adrian locking in there, changing up his game plan really fast," Ross said. "They were all over the heater those first two innings. ... Gave us a chance to claw back. ... Nice team win. A lot of guys contributed."
Rich Hill, who went 18-17 for the Cubs from 2005-08, kept his former team in check for 4 innings, but he allowed 2 hits, 2 walks and hit a batter in what turned out to be a 3-run fifth. Hill departed in the fifth with a left knee strain.
Morel then hit his eighth homer of the year in the sixth to make it 5-5, and Contreras scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-5.
Ian Happ went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles. He has reached in 10 of his last 14 plate appearances and is now hitting .286.