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Cubs look to beat Diamondbacks, win second straight series

Sportsnaut
May 8, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Justin Steele (35) delivers against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs will try to win back-to-back series for the first time this season when they face the Arizona Diamondbacks in the rubber-game of their three-game set on Sunday in Phoenix.

It’s the final game of a six-game western road trip that started with Chicago winning two of three games in San Diego. The Cubs then bounced back from a 4-3 loss to Arizona in Friday night’s series opener to pull out a 4-2 victory on Saturday night.

Left-hander Justin Steele (1-4, 5.32 ERA) will start for the Cubs. He pitched five shutout innings in a 9-0 win over Milwaukee in his first start of the season on April 9 but hasn’t won in five starts since.

Right-hander Humberto Castellanos (2-1, 4.32) will get the nod for Arizona, which will attempt to win its fourth consecutive series.

Steele, coming off a 7-1 loss to Walker Buehler and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday when he allowed two runs on three hits over four innings, has never faced the Diamondbacks.

Castellanos will face the Cubs for the first time in his career and received a no-decision in his most recent start, a 4-3 victory over Miami on Monday when he allowed three runs on four hits over 5 1/3 innings.

Chicago scored three runs in the ninth inning against Arizona closer Mark Melancon on Saturday night to pull out a 4-2 victory.

Catcher Yan Gomes led the way with a home run and also drove in Willson Contreras with the go-ahead run in the ninth.

Contreras began the three-run ninth with an eight-pitch walk against Melancon, took second on a single by Seiya Suzuki, and went to third on a walk to Ian Happ that loaded the bases. Gomes then lined a single to center to drive in Contreras.

J.B. Wendelken walked Rafael Ortega to force in another run, and Jason Heyward made it 4-1 with an RBI groundout.

“Just try and simplify,” Gomes said when asked about his mindset going into the bases-loaded at-bat. “Just trying to put the ball in play, try to drive something into the outfield. Not trying to overdo it. Sometimes in those big moments you can try and overswing it. … Melancon is one of the best closers in the game. You’re just trying to see a good pitch from him.”

Before the three-run ninth, Chicago had just three base runners and a 402-foot solo homer by Gomes off hot Arizona starter Zac Gallen. It was the first homer allowed this season by Gallen, who entered the contest with an ERA of 0.95.

“I don’t think that guy needs to worry too much,” Gomes said. “He’s a tremendous pitcher.”

Cubs manager David Ross wasn’t surprised by Gomes’ big game.

“I put him up there at the top of the order (fourth) because he’s such a quality at-bat,” Ross said. “Doesn’t matter who he’s facing. Doesn’t matter righty, lefty. A really good approach. … He knows the routine, and he knows how to have a quality at-bat.”

Melancon, who leads the team with seven saves, dropped to 0-5 with the loss.

“There’s some things inside the game I felt we could have done better,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “Moving runners over, just having good, heady at-bats at the right time I thought could have made a total difference in this game.”

–Field Level Media