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Cubs 6, Athletics 5: Can’t anyone here get anybody out?

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All’s well that ends well, but sheesh.

Finally, the Cubs found a reliever who could. (Barely.)
Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

After the Cubs put together their big seventh-inning, four-run rally, I turned to Mike Bojanowski and asked, “Is there anyone on this team that can get six outs without giving up four runs?”

Frighteningly, the answer to that question was almost “No,” but the Cubs hung on — barely — and defeated the Athletics 6-5 Monday evening for their fourth straight win.

More on the bullpens — for both teams — later.

Nicholas Castellanos gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the first inning [VIDEO].

That was his first home run as a Cub, and first overall since July 21, a span of 12 games played.

Kyle Hendricks looked sharp in the first two innings, getting strikeouts on changeups and outs on weak contact. Then he walked Jurickson Profar leading off the third inning. This was notable for two reaons: First, because Profar entered the game with a .269 on-base percentage, and second, it broke a streak of six consecutive games in which a Cubs starting pitcher had not allowed a walk, a franchise first since at least 1905.

Two batters later, the A’s had the lead on a two-run homer by Marcus Semien.

The Cubs had their chances to get back in the game. They had the bases loaded with one out in the second, but Hendricks and Jason Heyward struck out. Castellanos led off the third with a single, but was erased on a double play. After that the Cubs got two more runners on in the inning, but Kyle Schwarber popped up to end that threat.

Hendricks, meanwhile, retired nine straight after the home run before hitting a batter with two out in the sixth. He got out of that inning with a ground out.

And then Javier Baez hit a baseball a very, very long way [VIDEO].

That ball was crushed!

Hendricks was lifted with one out in the seventh after issuing his second walk. He departed having allowed one hit — the home run — and two walks and two runs, with five strikeouts. Rowan Wick, who has been outstanding lately, got out of the inning with a double-play ball.

And then the Cubs offense got to work.

Ian Happ led off the seventh, batting for Wick, and immediately gave the Cubs the lead [VIDEO].

Holy...

The 474-foot homer was the Cubs’ longest of the season. For Happ, it was his first of 2019 and his fourth career pinch-hit homer.

The Cubs were not done. They’d scored all their runs to this point on solo homers. Heyward followed Happ’s blast with a single, and then Castellanos made it 4-2. [VIDEO]

Two outs followed that RBI double, and then Javy did some more Javy [VIDEO].

Javy’s first nearly left the yard near the video board. That one barely qualified, landing in the basket, but they both count as homers. Baez now has 28 on the season.

The four-run inning gave the Cubs a 6-2 lead and prompted my comment.

My worries were justified. Steve Cishek entered and promptly got hit very hard. A double and a pinch-hit home run sandwiched around a strikeout made it 6-4.

The home run hit there was notable. It was hit by Nick Martini, a native of northwest suburban Crystal Lake. His entire family was sitting a few rows in front of me:

Al Yellon

Give Martini credit — he worked an 11-pitch at-bat off Cishek, fouling off six pitches before the homer.

Semien didn’t wait that long. Cishek’s next offering after Martini’s homer was deposited into the bleachers by Semien, his second of the game, to make it 6-5.

Yikes. That was it for Cishek, after this:

Cishek has a 7.00 ERA over his last 11 appearances, with four home runs in nine innings. Yikes.

Brandon Kintzler entered and finished off the inning, but not before an infield hit put the tying run on base. Oh, and then there’s this about Kintzler:

Jesse Rogers sums it up. The Cubs need the relievers they have to stay healthy. Hopefully there’s nothing serious about this “discomfort” from Kintzler. He’s been outstanding all year.

So that didn’t leave too many choices for Joe Maddon in the ninth with a one-run lead. Kyle Ryan was the first entrant, and he got the first two outs on just eight pitches. Looks good, right?

Nothing ever seems easy for this Cubs team. Ryan walked pinch-hitter Khris Davis and another pinch-hitter, Chad Pinder, singled. That put the tying run in scoring position and brought David Phelps into the game.

Phelps ran a 1-2 count on Semien and then this happened [VIDEO].

That ball was caught by Happ just feet from the left-field wall to end the game. You can’t see it in the video, but as Albert Almora Jr. ran over from center field to back up the play, he put his hands on his head after the catch was made as if to say, “I could use a little less excitement, please.” (Meanwhile, watch the video all the way through to see the dejected looks of the A’s when they see the ball is going to be caught.)

We all could, but we will take the win nevertheless. It was the fifth career save for Phelps and his first since 2016, when he was a member of the Marlins.

Overall Monday evening:

Starting pitchers for both teams: 12⅓ innings, nine hits, four runs, three home runs, 10 strikeouts
Relief pitchers for both teams: 4⅔ innings, nine hits, seven runs, four home runs, four strikeouts

The Cubs’ win, combined with the Cardinals’ 8-0 loss to the Dodgers Monday evening, gave the Cubs a 2½-game lead in the N.L. Central. The Brewers won Monday and remain four games behind.

The Cubs will go for their fifth straight victory Tuesday evening against the A’s. Jon Lester will start for the Cubs and Brett Anderson for Oakland. Game time again is 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via NBC Sports Chicago (with the game also on MLB Network outside the Cubs and A’s market territories).