Spotting opponents an early lead hasn’t been a problem lately for Anthony Rizzo and the Chicago Cubs.
Rizzo drove in his second run of the game in the seventh inning to snap a tie Jeremy Kerley Jersey , Kyle Schwarber followed with a solo homer in the eighth and the Cubs rebounded from an early three-run deficit to edge the Detroit Tigers 5-3 on Tuesday for their fifth straight win.
The other team has scored first in each of Chicago’s recent victories, but the Cubs have kept chipping away.
”We know we’re a good team,” Rizzo said. ”We just have to string together good at-bats.”
The Cubs did just that again on Tuesday.
With one out in the seventh, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist singled off Tigers reliever Daniel Stumpf (1-4). Rizzo’s slow bouncer up the middle resulted in a force of Zobrist at second, but Jose Iglesias’ throw to first was too late to double up Rizzo and Heyward scored from third to put Chicago ahead for the first time, 4-3.
Schwarber hit his team-leading 17th homer to right against a steady wind off Lake Michigan in the eighth.
Trailing 3-0, Albert Almora, Jr. and Heyward each drove in a run with a double, then Rizzo followed with an RBI single in Chicago’s three-run fifth.
Rizzo has just one homer in his past 20 games – and 12 this season – after launching at least 31 in each of the past four seasons. But the Cubs slugger says the longball isn’t always the best approach.
”You get down and start battling (at) two strikes, it’s not about hitting a homer,” Rizzo said. ”It’s just about putting the ball in play and we’re doing a good job at that.”
Justin Wilson (3-2), the second of Chicago’s four relievers, pitched a scoreless seventh to earn the win. Pedro Strop pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save in four chances.
The Cubs’ bullpen allowed just one hit after starter Kyle Hendricks labored through five innings, allowing three runs and seven hits in a no-decision. In his past six starts, the right-hander is 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA.
”They didn’t beat him up by any means today,” manager Joe Maddon said. ”It’s just that it wasn’t a typical surgeon-like procedure from Kyle. He looks good, he’s just not executing.”
Detroit leadoff hitter Mikie Mahtook had three singles and scored a run. Niko Goodrum drove in a run with a double, and Jeimer Candelario and James McCann each had an RBI as the Tigers lost their 12th game in their past 14.
Tigers starter Michael Fulmer went six innings and allowed three runs – all in the fifth – and seven hits.
”He had really good stuff,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. ”He got a couple of pitches up a bit, but they kind of put them in the right place.
”It wasn’t like they were lashing them, but they put them on the outfield grass, kind of like what we did to them early.”
The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first. After Mahtook and Nick Castellanos led off with singles, Candelario drove in a run with a groundout. Goodrum’s double to the right-field corner scored the second run.
The Tigers added a run in the fourth on McCann’s RBI single.
The Cubs tied it 3-all in the fifth. Pinch-hitter Tommy LaStella Micah Hyde Jersey , Almora and Heyward led off with consecutive doubles to cut it to 3-2, then Rizzo’s hit with one out tied it.
WINDY CITY TIGER
INF/OF Jim Adduci, called up from Triple-A Toledo on Sunday, was in Detroit’s lineup at first base and singled and scored in his first game this season. The 33-year-old attended Evergreen Park High School in Chicago’s south suburbs and grew up a fan of both the Cubs and White Sox. Adduci’s father, also named Jim, played a total of 70 games with three major league teams in the 1980s and was at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.
Cubs: INF/OF Kris Bryant (left shoulder inflammation) probably will return Wednesday or Friday, Maddon said after the game. The Cubs star has been sidelined since June 22. … RHP Yu Darvish (right triceps inflammation, right elbow impingement/inflammation) rejoined the Cubs after seeing Dr. Keith Meister in Texas on Friday and getting a cortisone shot. Maddon said he still hadn’t yet talked to the right-hander about his progress following the injection.
Tigers LHP Francisco Liriano (3-4. 3.99) takes the mound against Cubs LHP Jose Quintana (6-6. 4.31) on Wednesday afternoon in the finale of the two-game interleague set. Liriano has lost both of his starts since coming off the disabled list (right hamstring strain) on June 23. Quintana has two losses and three no-decisions in his past five starts and hasn’t won since May 31.
The Jacksonville Jaguars heard the chatter, read the tweets and Instagram posts. And they got a little confused.
Why were the Pittsburgh Steelers talking about the New England Patriots? Didn’t they have to face the Jaguars first before reaching a rematch with the Super Bowl champions?
”I don’t know if they misread the schedule or didn’t play us this week, but they didn’t acknowledge us at all,” Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack said. ”And we didn’t take that too kindly.”
Not at all. That shouldn’t be a problem going forward.
The Jaguars, yes the Jaguars, have the NFL’s full attention now. A trip to Foxborough on the horizon, too.
Dominant at the start and resilient at the finish, Jacksonville stunned the Steelers 45-42 on Sunday to advance to the AFC title game for the third time in franchise history and maybe, finally, earn a bit of respect.
Leonard Fournette ran for 109 yards and three scores . Embattled quarterback Blake Bortles added 214 yards passing and a pivotal fourth-quarter touchdown as the third-seeded Jaguars (12-6) beat the second-seeded Steelers (13-4) at Heinz Field for the second time in three months.
The victory in October served notice Jacksonville was ready to put a decade of losing firmly behind. This one sent an even bigger message: overlook the Jaguars at your own peril, something Pittsburgh appeared to do in the run-up. Coach Mike Tomlin hinted at facing the Patriots twice back in December. Running back Le’Veon Bell posted on Twitter about the pair of “round 2s” the Steelers will face in coming weeks.
Turns out, one rematch is all the Steelers will get.
”We knew we had this team’s number,” Jacksonville safety Barry Church said. ”All we did was feed on the fuel that everybody was providing, the media, everybody was talking about how they’re going to run through us, it’s not going to be like last (time). Blake Bortles this. Blake Bortles that. all he did was dominate their defense.”
A week removed from an ugly performance in a wild-card round win over Buffalo in which he passed for 87 yards and struggled with the easiest of throws Nick O'Leary Jersey , Bortles went 14 of 26 for a touchdown without an interception. He ran for 35 more and wasn’t sacked by a defense that led the NFL and set a franchise record with 55 during the season. Jacksonville’s 45 points tied the most ever allowed by the Steelers in the playoffs.
Not bad for an offense that at times simply appeared along for the ride as the NFL’s top defense carried the load.
”Blake Bortles has always been criticized,” Fournette said. ”It is different now. He has guys that have his back, especially me.”
Certainly looked it as Fournette scored two first-quarter touchdowns. The Jaguars built a 21-point lead and responded whenever the Steelers rallied to get within one score.
”The guys played with confidence all day long,” Bortles said. ”Obviously, what they have on their side of the ball, it’s a good team. We know they got a good offense. We knew we were going to have to be efficient, hold on to the ball for a little bit, so we did it.”
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 469 yards and set a franchise record with five touchdown passes, but was also intercepted once and had a fumble returned for a score. All-Pro Antonio Brown caught seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in his return from a left calf injury. Bell had 155 yards of total offense and two scores.
But Pittsburgh’s vaunted ”Killer Bs” couldn’t keep pace with Jacksonville, one of four NFL franchises to never make the Super Bowl.
”It’s disheartening,” Brown said. ”I thought we had the right group of guys.”
The Jaguars dominated the Steelers on Oct. 8, winning by three touchdowns in a performance so overwhelming Roethlisberger only half-jokingly wondered aloud whether he still had ”it’ after throwing a career-high five picks.
Roethlisberger and his teammates left little doubt they hoped for a rematch, though Jacksonville cornerback A.J. Bouye cautioned Pittsburgh to be careful what it wished for. The Jaguars hardly appeared intimidated by the 18-degree chill or trying to earn their first road playoff win in a decade.
”I’m sure there will still be tons of people that are going to disapprove and talk negative or hate or do whatever they want,” Bortles said. ”But we get to keep playing and we get an opportunity to play in Foxborough next week for another week. Just honored to be able to do this especially with this group of guys.”
”It’s been an awesome year. Just want to keep it going.”
FOURTH AND WOE
Pittsburgh rolled up 545 yards of offense, but it’s 2 yards the Steelers didn’t get that helped send them into an offseason filled with questions.
Twice Pittsburgh had fourth-and-1 in Jacksonville territory. Twice the Steelers did something other than have the 6-foot-5 Roethlisberger sneak. Pittsburgh ran wide in the first quarter and Bell was stuffed for a 4-yard loss. The Jaguars responded immediately by going 75 yards in 11 plays, the final one a 4-yard sprint by T.J. Yeldon that put them up 21-0.
The Steelers were down a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and had fourth-and-inches at the Jacksonville 39. Roethlisberger checked at the line of scrimmage, faked a handoff to Bell and instead threw incomplete to diving rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster .
”It’s been a while since I’ve run a quarterback sneak, I’m for it,” said Roethlisberger, who added he wi