Contreras HR, 3 RBIs lead Cubs past Tigers for 6th straight
By MATT CARLSON
CHICAGO (AP) — Javier Baez flashed a little baserunning moxie. It paid off and Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon loved it.
Baez stole home and the Willson Contreras hit a tie-breaking homer to lead the Cubs past the Detroit Tigers 5-2 on Wednesday for their sixth straight victory.
“Who’s more exciting to watch than he,” Maddon said of Baez. “He is, I’d say, in that top-10 kind of part of the Rat Pack from back in the day. He’s one of those guys.”
“He sashayed in with Sinatra. That’s how he plays baseball.”
Baez capped an eventful trip around the bases by stealing home in the fourth to tie it at 2. He singled to lead off the inning, then Detroit starter Francisco Liriano picked him off first base. But first baseman John Hicks’ throw to second sailed into left field and Baez advanced to third.
Baez sprinted home when Liriano tried pick off Addison Russell at first. Hicks’ throw to catcher James McCann was quick and accurate, but Baez slid head-first and touched the plate before McCann could tag him.
“As soon as I got to third, I was just ready from the first pitch,” Baez said. “I just went for it.
“I used to slide head-first (as a kid) and get stuck and not go through the bag or whatever,” Baez added. “I was kind of worried about it because I didn’t want to do the scorpion.”
But instead of ending up with his tail in the air, Baez slid just outside of the plate and reached in.
“It was a close play, obviously,” McCann said. “He put a swim move on me”
Conditions at Wrigley Field favored the longball, with a game-time temperature of 92 degrees, a heat index of 102 and the wind blowing out. Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire left the dugout midway through the game with what bench coach Steve Liddle called “being overheated.”
David Bote hit his first homer while Detroit got solo shots from Nick Castellanos and Hicks, but was swept by the Cubs in the two-game interleague set and has dropped 13 of 15.
Bote, playing third in place of injured Kris Bryant, smacked his drive into the batter’s eye shrubs in straight-away center on the first pitch he faced in the second to tie it at 1 in the second.
Contreras homered in the sixth to put the Cubs ahead 3-2 and then added a two-run double in the seventh.
Chicago starter Jose Quintana (7-6) allowed two runs on five hits through six innings to win for the first time since May 31. Liriano (3-5) permitted three runs on five hits and five walks in his third outing –and third loss — since returning from the disabled list.
“We’ve got to keep playing, keep grinding, and hopefully things are going to turn around for us,” Liriano said.
Brandon Morrow pitched the ninth for his 19th save in 20 chances.
Castellanos hit his 14th homer, and third in five games, to left in the first to put Detroit ahead 1-0. In each game of the Cubs’ winning streak, the opponent has scored first.
Hicks’ shot in the third landed halfway up the left-center bleachers and put the Tigers back in front, 2-1.
Bote played his 15th game in the majors and entered hitting .241. The 25-year-old was recalled from Triple-A Iowa for the third time this season on June 26.
The Cubs recalled C/INF Victor Caratini from Triple-A Iowa and designated C Chris Gimenez for assignment. Caratini started at first base on Wednesday as Anthony Rizzo didn’t enter the game until he pinch hit in the sixth.
Caratini was on the Cubs’ opening day roster, then was sent to the minors on May 25 for more playing time. With Iowa, the 24-year-old batted .313 with four home runs and 22 RBIs in 32 games. He’s a switch-hitter who can play the infield and catch.
Cubs: Although he was eligible to come off the disabled list on Tuesday, the earliest INF/OF Bryant (left shoulder inflammation) will return is Friday. Maddon said Bryant was still feeling some soreness. . Maddon said RHP Yu Darvish (right triceps inflammation, right elbow impingement/inflammation) is feeling better, but there’s no timetable for him to resume throwing. Darvish got a fresh opinion and a cortisone shot from Dr. Keith Meister last Friday in Texas after suffering pain in a bullpen session in Los Angeles on Thursday. “We want to develop a plan to get him back out there as soon as possible,” Maddon said.
Tigers: LHP Matthew Boyd (4-6, 4.18) faces the Rangers RHP Yovani Gallardo (2-0, 9.00) on Thursday as Detroit opens a four-game home series versus Texas.
Cubs: Following a day off on Thursday, Chicago sends LHP Mike Montgomery (3-2, 3.55) to the mound against RHP Tyler Mahle (6-6, 3.83) to open a three-game set against the Reds at Wrigley Field.