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Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Cubs 9, Diamondbacks 2

By Jesse Rogers


CHICAGO -– The Chicago Cubs beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-2 on Tuesday night to take the first two games of the series. Here’s a quick look:

How it happened: Mike Olt broke open a close contest with a three-run home run in the fifth inning while Jason Hammel threw seven solid innings as the Cubs handed the Diamondbacks their 18th loss of the month. Nate Schierholtz drove in the first two runs of the game with an RBI single in the third inning and a sacrifice fly in the fourth before Olt hit his fourth home run of the year. Hammel stymied the Diamondbacks just as Travis Wood did the night before. His lone mistake came with the Cubs up 5-0 as Tuffy Gosewisch went deep in the sixth. The Cubs added four more in the eighth on a Luis Valbunea bases-loaded walk, followed by a Justin Ruggiano base hit. Hammel won his third game; the Cubs have won seven all month.

What it means: Hammel is starting to rack up the solid starts, which is going to make him attractive to other teams. It’s doubtful the Cubs would extend a long-term contract for the 31-year-old, but he should bring back a nice haul of prospects if he keeps pitching as he is. Meanwhile, Olt took over the team lead in home runs and is tied with Starlin Castro for most RBI (nine). All this in limited starts this year. His power is real as he went out to right field on a tough hitting night with the wind blowing in and temperatures near freezing.

Castro’s night: He was 2-for-4 at the plate and made several nice plays in the field, including back-to-back in the top of the eighth inning. First he made the right decision on a backhand play and threw out speedy Chris Owings, then went diving up the middle to get Gosewisch. Castro has had a great first month of the season after coming back from a hamstring injury suffered during spring training.

What’s next: The Cubs will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first-ever game at Wrigley Field on Wednesday afternoon. Former Cubs players and baseball dignitaries will be on hand, including commissioner Bud Selig. Jeff Samardzija (0-2, 1.29 ERA) faces Wade Miley (2-2, 4.35 ERA) as the Cubs look for their first series win of the year.