Hammel allows 1 hit thru 7, gets key hit, Cubs top D-backs
CHICAGO (AP) Jason Hammel was dominant on the mound and a bit lucky at the plate, a combination the Chicago Cubs are perfecting.
Hammel allowed one hit over seven innings and snapped a tie with a two-run single to lead the sizzling Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday.
Dexter Fowler added his 17th career leadoff home run, Anthony Rizzo hit his 13th homer and Hector Rondon pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 10th save for the Cubs, who have won four straight and 10 of 11.
At 39-15, the Cubs are one-third of the way through the season and on pace to win 117 games.
''What can I say, man?'' manager Joe Maddon said. ''Nothing to complain about.''
Arizona went up 2-0 on Jake Lamb's 10th homer in the first following a walk. But Hammel (7-1) allowed only one more walk, retiring his last 13 batters amid intermittent rain.
''Just tried to stay with it and try to command the ball in the strike zone and hope the rain would calm down,'' Hammel said. ''I found a pretty good rhythm.''
The D-backs walked David Ross intentionally to load the bases in the fourth. Hammel responded with a grounder up the middle that got by Edwin Escobar (0-2), hit the second-base bag and darted into right field to cap a three-run inning.
''I'm glad second base is where second base is,'' Hammel said. ''I don't know if (second baseman Jean) Segura makes that play up the middle, but it helped us out.''
Maddon was making no apologies for the good fortune.
''Our guys come ready to play every day,'' he said. ''I think the residue of that is things like that occur.''
The Cubs are 8-1 on a homestand that ends Sunday and are 5-1 against Arizona (24-34) which fell a season-worst 10 games under .500.
Escobar gave up four runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings in his second career start before the Cubs bullpen created some drama.
Yasmany Tomas homered to lead off the eighth against Pedro Strop to get Arizona within 4-3. Strop allowed two more hits before Trevor Cahill replaced him and walked Paul Goldschmidt to load the bases with two out.
Lefty Travis Wood then entered, Rickie Weeks Jr. pinch hit for the lefty Lamb and lined to second.
''I hit it pretty good, but I saw (Ben) Zobrist over there,'' Weeks said.
Rizzo homered to right off Daniel Hudson in the bottom of the inning in Arizona's ninth loss in 12 games.
''We have to clean up the defense,'' manager Chip Hale said.
Hammel had to leave with hamstring cramping after just two innings in his last start. He lowered his ERA to 2.14.
Diamondbacks: RHP Shelby Miller (finger) was to start a game in extended spring training Saturday.
Cubs: It was Rondon's first appearance since he was sidelined briefly with a sore back.
Hale has intentionally walked three hitters in the series. The two on Friday scored in a five-run eighth inning. Hammel's hit after Ross' walk gave him seven RBIs, one behind St. Louis' Adam Wainwright for most among major league pitchers.
Hale pinch-hit for Lamb in the eighth despite his earlier homer because he's hitting .118 against lefties.
''I've told him over and over as his career goes on he won't be pinch-hit for, he'll handle lefties,'' Hale said. ''But at that point Rickie was the matchup.''
The Cubs held a moment of silence before the game for Muhammad Ali, who died Friday.
''If you're of the age, then a part of your childhood is gone,'' Maddon said.
Maddon wore a blue Cubs jump suit before the game with ''Joey'' on the back. Jackets hung in lockers with nicknames ranging from ''Reaper'' for Justin Grimm to ''J-Hey'' for Jason Heyward.
''It's our Jon Lester tribute to the NBA Finals road trip,'' Maddon said.
The jump suit will be required attire on the upcoming Philadelphia trip.
Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta (9-0, 1.56 ERA) seeks to win his 21st straight decision and move closer to Carl Hubbell's record of 24 in the series finale Sunday. LHP Patrick Corbin (2-5, 4.96) starts for the D-backs.