CHICAGO — Cubs reliever James Russell had a rough seventh inning. It was the eighth that caught his manager’s attention.
Russell allowed two inherited runners to score in the seventh but he shut down the Arizona Diamondbacks in the eighth inning to help Chicago beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-5 Tuesday.
“You can’t leave here without talking about Russ,” Quade said. “We were in a bit of a mess pitchingwise and he picked us up. I absolutely needed him. Him giving us the eighth, the finishing up the way he did was fantastic.”
Russell (1-0) worked 1 2-3 innings and gave up two hits while Sean Marshall closed out the ninth for his first save.
Russell entered in the seventh and struck out pinch-hitter Russell Branyan. He then gave up a single to Diamondbacks leadoff batter Willie Bloomquist that scored two and tied the game at 4.
After the Cubs went ahead 6-4 in the bottom half, Russell shut down the Diamondbacks in the eighth, coaxing Miguel Montero into a double play and ended the inning by striking out Chris Young.
“That was following the one mistake I thought he made — he gave up the base hit and gives up the lead then came right back and rebounded,” Quade said.
Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson was disappointed his team couldn’t get more.
“It was great to see us fight back, but we’re here to fight back and win,” Gibson said. “There’s no consolation. I don’t expect us to ever lay down, we haven’t yet. The object is to win the game, we have to execute better in those situations.”
The Cubs also had a solid outing from starter Andrew Cashner, a 2010 reliever making his first career start. Cashner worked 5 1-3 innings before leaving with one out in the sixth with stiffness in his right shoulder.
“He was great all game and threw the ball extremely well,” Quade said. “The last few pitches before we got him out of there he felt a little tightness and that’s all I needed to hear. Up to that point, it was a real impressive outing.”
Cashner, who is likely to have an MRI, shut down 11 of the first 12 batters he faced and gave up just one run on two hits — including a third inning lead off homer to Ryan Roberts.
Cubs centerfielder Marlon Byrd went 3 for 4 and drove in pinch-hitter Jeff Baker with a one-out double to left off Sam Demel (1-1) for a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh.
Diamondbacks reliever Joe Paterson came in and walked Tyler Colvin with the bases loaded to force in another run.
The Cubs got key hits from Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, who doubled home a run in the second, and Colvin. He broke out of a 1-for-9 slump with a two-run homer in the third.
The Diamondbacks, losers of three straight, erased a 4-1 deficit in the top of the seventh as Bloomquist drove in a pair of runs with a two-out single.
diamondbacks starter Barry Enright pitched six innings. He gave up four runs and seven hits, struck out three and walked three.
“I fell behind in the third inning, gave up the home run to Colvin,” he said. “Second inning, two outs with Castro. I felt I threw him a pretty good pitch down and in but he just got to it. It’s frustrating but I think they had a pretty good game plan, they knew I was going to come in on them.”
The win, before a crowd of 27,039, was the Cubs seventh straight over Arizona dating back to last April 30. NOTES: It’s not quite a Wrigley Field version of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic “The Birds,” but the flock of seagulls swooping through the park on Monday definitely had manager Mike Quade concerned. “What triggers it?,” he said prior to Tuesday’s game. “They were here in the thir d inning yesterday. And then you think, ‘OK, it’s all the food laying around.’ Maybe if I get my (Rottweiler) here, maybe we can clean it up a little.” … Colvin started at first base and batted fifth in place of Carlos Pena, who is day to day with a sprained right thumb. … Cubs relievers Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood had the day off after making three straight appearances. …. Following Wednesday’s series finale, the Diamondbacks return to Phoenix for Friday’s home season opener against the Reds at Chase Field.