Cubs' 2-1 wins on a 2-run homer

A previous post revealed that the Cubs' loss at Philadelphia on Sunday was only their second by 1-2 in which the opposing team's runs came on a 2-run homer by a pinch hitter.

The only earlier such loss had been at St. Louis, on July 16, 1960.

How many games have the Cubs won, 2-1, on a 2-run homer?

That would be . . . 1.

Sept. 5 will be the 30th anniversary of the one-of-a-kind homer, which came at Wrigley Field, in front of a Sunday afternoon crowd of 38,691.



The Cubs had begun a 4-game series against the Mets with a record of 64-69, good for fourth place in the 7-team East Division. They led the fifth-place Pirates by 1 game and trailed the first-place Phillies by 19.

The visiting Mets were 46-87 and firmly entrenched in last place, 37 games in back of the Phillies and 9.5 behind the sixth-place, first-year Marlins.

The Mets opened a 7-0 lead in the fifth inning on Thursday night and coasted to an 8-3 victory.

On Friday afternoon, the Cubs took a 4-0 lead into the ninth. Greg Hibbard gave up a 3-run homer with nobody out, then gave way to Randy Myers, who retired 3 straight batters to preserve the win.

Saturday was a see-saw battle. The Cubs fell behind, 0-2; led, 3-2, 4-3 and 7-4; but trailed again, 7-8, as they came to bat in the eighth.

Ryne Sandberg drew a leadoff walk, went to second on a groundout and scored the tying run on a pinch-hit double by Shawon Dunston. Sammy Sosa promptly singled home Dunston, putting the Cubs in front, 9-8.

Myers gave up a leadoff walk, but coaxed a double play moments later, then struck out the next batter to end the game.



Mike Morgan was the starting pitcher for the Cubs in the series finale.

The 33-year-old right hander had allowed at least 4 runs in 9 of his 26 starts, but no more than 1 in 5 others, including a 5-hit, complete-game shutout against the Rockies at home in mid-July.

In his previous start, on Aug. 31, he gave up 3 runs on 9 hits and 3 walks in 7 innings of a loss at home to the Phillies.

His record stood at 8-13; his ERA, at 3.96.


The Mets' starter was Anthony Young, a 27-year-old righty in his second full season.

Young had begun 1992 by throwing a 6-hitter in a start, then getting a win in a relief appearance. After that, he suffered 14 straight losses, to end the year 2-14.

He had lost 13 more in a row in 1993: 5 in relief through the end of May, 7 as a starter between June 8 and July 7, then another in relief on July 24.

His 27-game losing streak had come to an end on July 28, when he gave up a tying run in the top of the ninth, but the Mets scored twice in the bottom to beat the Marlins, 5-4.

After that, Young had relieved 6 times. In the first 4, he earned 2 saves. But he had surrendered leads in the next 2, after which the Mets demoted him to their Norfolk, Va., farm team.

In 3 starts for Norfolk, Young had fashioned a 1.12 ERA, and on Friday he had been recalled by the Mets, to face the Cubs on Sunday.



Young gave up 2-out singles to Sandberg in the first and to Steve Buechele in the second. Each time, he retired the next batter.

In the third, Dwight Smith and Jose Vizcaino singled with 1 out, but Sandberg hit into a 6-4-3 double play.

Morgan meanwhile set down the first 9 hitters he faced. He issued a walk to start the fourth, then picked the runner off first before throwing another pitch. A pair of groundouts followed.


After getting a groundout to start the fifth, Morgan walked Jeromy Burnitz on a full count. He struck out Jeff Kent, but then walked Jeff McKnight on 5 pitches.

His first pitch to the Ryan Thompson was wild, advancing the runners to second and third, so Thompson was walked intentionally, bringing up Young. Morgan got ahead, 1-2, then got Young to fly out to center.

The Cubs quickly went 3 up, 3 down in their half.


Todd Hundley's infield single with 1 out in the sixth ended Morgan's bid for a no-hitter. A fly out and a called third strike kept the game scoreless.

A leadoff walk and a 2-out single by Mark Grace put Cubs on the corners, but Sosa fouled out.


Morgan walked Burnitz on 4 pitches to start the seventh. With the count 1-1 on Kent, Burnitz tried to steal and was thrown out. Morgan then dispatched of Kent and McKnight.

Young had no trouble with the Cubs: popup, strikeout looking, strikeout swinging.

Through 7 innings, the Cubs had 5 hits and the Mets, 1.



Thompson ended the stalemate leading off the eighth, smacking a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left center.

Morgan regrouped and retired the next 3 batters.

Dunston pinch hit for Morgan to begin the Cubs' half. He took a ball, then singled. He reached second on a passed ball.

After Smith was called out on a 3-2 pitch, Vizcaino fell behind, 0-2, then grounded back to Young.

Dunston had headed for third on contact. Young fielded the ball and threw to the shortstop, covering the base, who tagged out Dunston.

Sandberg then flied out, leaving the Cubs still down by a run.

Jose Bautista, Morgan's replacement on the mound, yielded a leadoff single on an 0-2 pitch. A double play and a strikeout ended the inning.



Lefty John Franco, 32, had suffered the loss on Saturday. Now he returned to the mound trying again for the 236th save of his 10-year career.

Grace battled Franco to a 3-2 count, then took ball 4.

Sosa struck out on a 2-2 delivery.

Rick Wilkins, 0 for 3 with a strikeout against Young, was due up next.

Manager Jim Lefebvre sent up Glenallen Hill instead.


The Cubs had acquired Hill, a 28-year-old outfielder, from Cleveland 16 days earlier, on Aug. 19, in exchange for outfielder Candy Maldonado.

Maldonado, signed as a free agent in the off season, had batted only .186/.260/.286 in 154 plate appearances over 70 games. he had hit just 13 home runs.

Hill had struggled with Cleveland, slashing .224/.268/.374, with 5 homers in 191 PA over 66 games.

But he had found new life with the Cubs. In 29 PA over 12 games, his line was .308/.379/.808. In just 29 PA, he already had hit 4 homers, including 2-run shots on Friday and Saturday, when he had started both games in left field.


Now, Hill swung at Franco's 2-2 pitch, whacking the ball into into the left field bleachers to win the game, 2-1.



Hill's was the Cubs' 121st walk-off homer since 1876, first season of the National League. They have hit 70 more, for a total of 191.

Only 13 of the game-ending homers have been by pinch hitters, 4 of them since Hill did it:

Sept. 12, 1998: Orlando Merced, 3-run, 9th inning, to beat Brewers, 14-12

June 20, 2011: Geovany Soto, 3-run, 13th inning, to beat Giants, 5-2

Sept. 28, 2015: Chris Denorfia, solo, 11th inning, to beat Royals, 1-0

Aug. 12, 2018: David Bote, grand slam, 9th inning, to beat Nationals, 4-3



Only 1 Cub other than Hill has turned an 0-1 deficit into a 2-1 win with a walk-off homer.

Dave Kingman did it against the Reds, on July 23, 1979.

Cincinnati had scored in the fifth inning on a leadoff walk, a steal and a pair of fly balls that sent the runner to third, then home.

The Cubs had managed only 4 hits off Tom Hume until he gave up a single to Larry Biittner to start the ninth.

Pinch runner Miguel Dilone stole second, then trotted home Kingman's blast to left-center.



The Cubs have won 33 games by 2-1, with both runs coming on a home run.

That is 6 more games than they have lost in a similar fashion.

The first of their wins was on May 9, 1915, at home against the Cardinals. Vice Saier homered in the fifth, erasing an 0-1 deficit.

20 of the 33 homers came with the Cubs behind and 13 with no score.

23 have come at home and 10 on the road.

The Cubs turned the trick twice in 4 seasons: 1937, 1963, 1964 and 2014.



In 3 of the wins, a Cub homered with a man on in a 0-1 game in the top of the ninth inning. In another, the homer came in the 10th.

The ninth-inning homers were by Billy Cowan, at Pittsburgh, in 1963; Johnny Callison, at Montreal, in 1970; and Anthony Rizzo, at Los Angeles against the Dodgers, in 2019.

Cowan and Callison homered with 2 out; Rizzo, with none.

Javier Baez slammed the 10th-inning homer, at St. Louis, on May 23, 2021, with 1 out, a runner on third and no score.


The Cubs also have won 3 games by 2-1 on 2-run homers in the bottom of the eighth, all while behind by a run.

Ken Hubbs did it against the Reds in 1963; Sammy Sosa, against the Dodgers, in 1997; and Willson Contreras, against the Marlins, on Aug. 5 of last season.



In all, 28 different Cubs have provided all the runs in a 2-1 win.

Billy Williams did it 3 times: in 1964 at San Francisco, and in 1965 and 1973, at home vs. the Dodgers.

3 others did it twice: Dunston, in 1988 vs. the Phillies and 1991 vs. the Dodgers; Rizzo, in 2014 vs. the Giants and 2019 at Los Angeles; and Sosa, in 1997 vs. the Dodgers and 2003 vs. the Diamondbacks.


The 24 who did it once include many of the Cubs' greatest stars:

Javier Baez, Ernie Banks, Kris Bryant, Johnny Callison, Jose Cardenal, Starlin Castro, Willson Contreras, Billy Cowan, Andre Dawson, Charlie Deal, Frank Demaree, Larry Doyle, Gabby Hartnett, Glenallen Hill, Ken Hubbs, Jacque Jones, Dave Kingman, Bill Nicholson, Ron Santo, Vic Sauer, Hank Sauer, Nate Schierholtz, Kyle Schwarber and Hack Wilson.

Of the 11 players who hit the most home runs as a Cub, only Aramis Ramirez, seventh with 239, never hit a 2-run homer in a 2-1 win.

Neither did No. 12 Alfonso Soriano (181) or No. 13 Derrek Lee (179).

Dawson and Bryant, the only other Cubs to hit at least 150 homers, make the total 12 of the top 15.



In addition to their 33 wins thanks to a 2-run homer, the Cubs have won 96 games by 2-1 in which they hit 1 solo homer and 11 games in which they hit 2.

They did not win, 2-1, with 2 homers until May 30, 1953, at Cincinnati.

Their first such win at home was on Aug. 25, 1960, vs. the Pirates.

They won in the same fashion at home vs. the Astros in 1964 and the Dodgers in 1975, then did not do it again until 1999, at Houston.

Their first 2 wins of the kind this century were at Wrigley Field, in 2002 vs. the Cardinals and 2005 vs. the Phillies.

All 4 since have been on the road: in 2008, at St. Louis; 2013 at San Francisco; 2019, at Houston; and April 12 of last year, at Pittsburgh.


The Cubs have won 285 games by 2-1 without a home run, for a total of 435 wins by that score.

They have lost 487 times by 1-2.

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