Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Chicago Cubs second baseman Luis Valbuena watches his throw to first base after forcing out Arizona Diamondbacks' Chris Owings (16), at second base during the third inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty) (AP)

Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Tuffy Gosewisch right, waits for the throw while Chicago Cubs' Luis Valbuena left, slides safely into home plate on a Nate Schierholtz sacrifice fly during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty) (AP)

Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro stops a grounder hit by Arizona Diamondbacks' Chris Owings (16), during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty) (AP)

Chicago Cubs second baseman Luis Valbuena throws to first base after forcing out Arizona Diamondbacks' Chris Owings (16), at second base during the third inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty) (AP)

Chicago Cubs starter Jason Hammel delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Chicago, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty) (AP)

Arizona Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs in Chicago, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty) (AP)

Chicago Cubs' Junior Lake right, celebrates with teammate Mike Olt (30), after Olt hit a three-run home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Chicago, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty) (AP)
Hammel, Olt lead Cubs past D-backs
Hammel tosses 7 strong innings, Olt homers to lead Cubs over Diamondbacks 9-2

Posted on April 22, 2014 at 11:32 p.m.

CHICAGO (AP) — Jason Hammel is certain the Cubs are better than their record so far.

Hammel pitched seven strong innings, Mike Olt hit a three-run home run and Nate Schierholtz drove in a pair of early runs to lead the Cubs to a 9-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“With a doubt,” he said. “We’ve played a lot of close ballgames where we could have come out on the other end. We’re a young team and we’ll figure out how to win those ball games pretty soon.”

Hammel (3-1) allowed just one run and four hits without walking a batter in seven innings to lower his ERA to 2.60.

“Very nice job,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “He got some groundball double plays when he needed to. Made some pitches when he needed to. It was pretty efficient.”

Olt still is hitting below .200 for the season (.195), but has four homers and nine runs batted in despite not playing every day.

The Cubs, who’ve won three of four to improve to 7-12, have won back-to-back games for the first time this season. They last won consecutive games on Sept. 9 and 10 of last season against the Cincinnati Reds. Their last consecutive home wins came on Sept. 4 and 6 against Miami and Milwaukee.

Brandon McCarthy (0-4) lowered his ERA from 7.11 to 6.23 because only one of five runs allowed was earned. He yielded seven hits in five innings.

Arizona has dropped four straight and has the worst record in the majors at 5-18.

“It was a carbon copy of the game (Monday),” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. “We made an error there, gave them life and then Brandon got behind in the count 3-1 and Olt hit a ball down over the plate, a pretty big pop into that wind.

“We didn’t mount any pressure again offensively so I don’t know what to tell ya,” he said.

In the third inning, Luis Valbuena stroked a one-out double to left-center field and then scored two batters later on a two-out single by Schierholtz.

In the fifth, Schierholtz drove in Valbuena again, this time on a sacrifice fly to right field, for a 2-0 lead.

Valbuena led off the inning with a single, went to second on a groundout and then reached third as Arizona second baseman Martin Prado dropped Anthony Rizzo’s grounder for an error.

The Cubs took advantage. Given the extra out, Starlin Castro singled to put two runners on and Olt followed with a homer into the right field bleachers for a 5-0 lead.

“I think it probably helped me,” Olt said of the wind. “I wasn’t trying to hit a home run. I was just trying to put the ball in play and hit it hard.”

Arizona finally got on the board against Hammel in the sixth when Tuffy Gosewisch led off with a homer.

The Cubs then broke things open with four runs in the bottom of the eighth, while the Diamondbacks got one back in the ninth.

NOTES: Wednesday is the 100th anniversary of the first game at Wrigley Field, which then was known as Weeghman Park, between the Chicago Federals and Kansas City Packers of the Federal League. The Cubs will wear replica Federal uniforms for the game, while Arizona will wear Packers uniforms. . Diamondbacks OF Mark Trumbo didn’t start because of soreness in his left foot. The injury occurred late in Monday’s game. . Now that RHP Jose Veres no longer is closing games, Renteria will hunt for opportunities to get Veres on the mound so he can work out his problems. “It could be at any moment,” Renteria said. “We could be up by 10 (or) down by 10. He needs to pitch. He’s talked about he wants to get back on the mound and throw.” . LHP Wade Miley (2-2) is scheduled to face Chicago RHP Jeff Samardzija (0-2) on Wednesday.