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Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 1: A good second-half beginning

It might not mean anything long-term, but the Cubs played solid ball Friday evening.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

While the folks in the Cubs baseball executive suite make plans to perhaps trade several players within the next two weeks, many of said players got on with the business of winning a baseball game Friday night in Phoenix. After all, that’s what they’re getting paid to do, right?

The Cubs got yet another solid outing from Kyle Hendricks and smashed three home runs — just the second time they’d done the latter since June 22 — and defeated the Diamondbacks 5-1 in the first game of the second half of 2021.

The Cubs began the scoring with some small ball. Javier Báez led off the second inning with a single, then stole second and went to third on a throwing error. Jake Marisnick then plated him with a sacrifice fly [VIDEO].

Incidentally, for Javy that was his 11th steal of the year. He’s got a chance to match his career high of 21, set in 2018.

The D-backs tied the game in the third, but after that Hendricks settled down and was his usual self. He ended up throwing six innings, allowing six hits and three walks, but just the single run. Kyle picked up the win, tying him with Julio Urias for the National League lead, and he now has a 2.65 ERA and 1.132 WHIP in 14 starts since his horrific April. In that span he has walked just 15 hitters in 88 innings.

With the game tied 1-1, the Cubs turned on the long ball bats, seemingly absent for a long time.

Anthony Rizzo gave the Cubs the lead in the fourth [VIDEO].

For Rizzo it was his first home run since June 26, and that one went a long way:

Rizzo went 2-for-3 and was hit by a pitch. I have been waiting all year for him to go on one of his usual hot streaks. Perhaps this game will start one. He’s also been crushing lefties this year: .351/.430/.527 (26-for-74) with three home runs.

The Cubs broke the game open in the seventh. With one out, Patrick Wisdom went deep [VIDEO].

That was Wisdom’s 13th, still leading all NL rookies. Another note about Wisdom’s homer:

Nico Hoerner followed with a walk, but he was out when Ian Happ’s grounder hit him. Happ, by rule, gets a single for that and Jason Heyward came up to bat for Hendricks [VIDEO].

Heyward has actually been a pretty good pinch-hitter over the course of his career, now hitting .293/.420/.439 (12-for-41 with eight walks), but that was his first career pinch-homer. He’s also now batting .358/.443/.528 (19-for-59) with three doubles and two home runs over his last 19 games, and perhaps he can make something out of this season after all.

After that the game was sent to the Cubs relief triumvirate of Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel (the latter finishing things off even though it was not a save situation). Will all three of these players still be Cubs two weeks from now? No one knows, yet, but in this game they combined for three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out six. Here’s the final out, with many Cubs fans standing and cheering [VIDEO].

Best of all, this was the final late-night (Central time) game of 2021 for the Chicago Cubs, a boon to those of us watching back in the Chicago area, the midwest, or in Eastern time. Thus the complaint department door is closed and locked up tight, for now, anyway. The Cubs have won three of five since the 11-game losing streak. Not much, but it’s better than losing, in my view.

The Cubs will go for two in a row over the D-backs Saturday afternoon at Chase Field. Adbert Alzolay will start for the Cubs and Zac Gallen is the scheduled starter for Arizona. Game time is 3:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage is again via Marquee Sports Network.