For the first time since rattling off five straight wins against the Padres and Cardinals from June 8-13, the Cubs have a winning streak of at least four games.
Three-hit games from Michael Hermosillo, Ian Happ and Frank Schwindel — his included a go-ahead home run in the sixth inning — helped secure a 6-5 win over the Pirates on Friday.
“Those guys are really hungry, they show up early to work every single day,” interim manager Andy Green said. “They’ve been really, really good at doing everything that’s been asked of them. It’s exciting to see guys hungry, and fighting to win games, win jobs, win spots on the team for the future.”
Hermosillo hit his first home run at Wrigley Field and was a triple shy of the cycle.
“He’s had some big hits for us since he’s been here, but he strung a number of really good at-bats together today,” Green said.
Alec Mills cruised through four innings, giving up three hits while striking out four, but things got bumpy in the fifth. Anthony Alford and Hoy Park hit back-to-back home runs before Mills got through the rest of the inning.
A pair of errors in the sixth cut the Cubs’ lead to two runs. Colin Moran reached on a fielding error by Patrick Wisdom and scored later in the inning on a bad throw by Sergio Alcantara. Mills’ day was done after giving up a game-tying home run to Alford later in the sixth.
The Cubs’ pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts and no walks, and the bullpen has a 0.42 ERA during the team’s four-game winning streak. On Friday, Trevor Megill, Codi Heuer, and Rowan Wick combined for 3 1/3 hitless and scoreless innings.
“Those guys have been great,” Green said. “Hopefully this bullpen has come together for us [and] as we move forward, we’re going to look to guys like that to continue to emerge, and they’ll have stuff to prove. They’re pitching like that right now, and it’s fun to see.”
Happ stays hot
Ian Happ singled twice and doubled, giving him multihit games in consecutive days. Happ homered and singled in the series opener Thursday night. His home run was part of the Cubs’ five-run seventh inning.
“He’s really got it going right now,” Green said. “It feels like more early count aggression, from my vantage point, like he’s getting in the box with the intent to swing, intent to do damage, intent to impact the baseball quickly.”
After hitting well under .200 in June and July, Happ started heating up in mid-August. Entering the game, he had a .352 average over his last 15 games. He has homered in four of his last eight games. Friday marked Happ’s second three-hit game since Aug. 23 against the Rockies.
“I think sometimes he’s got such a good eye and takes his walks so well, those types of hitters occasionally work themselves into seeing a ton of pitches and maybe not bringing their aggression to the dish, but he looks locked in,” Green said.
Manager David Ross said Thursday that things were “status quo” for David Bote, but Bote took batting practice and ran on the field before the game Friday. He has been out since Aug. 27 with a sprained ankle.