Cubs hammer Red Sox to cap three-game sweep

Chicago Cubs' Welington Castillo (5) is congratulated at home plate by  third baseman Luis Valbuena (24) after hitting a two-run home run against the Boston Red Sox in the fifth inning at Fenway Park in Boston Wednesday night.
David Butler II | USA Today Sports
Chicago Cubs' Welington Castillo (5) is congratulated at home plate by third baseman Luis Valbuena (24) after hitting a two-run home run against the Boston Red Sox in the fifth inning at Fenway Park in Boston Wednesday night.
Posted July 03, 2014, at 1:21 a.m.

BOSTON — No one had to tell the last place Chicago Cubs what it meant to sweep a three-game series from the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

“The Red Sox obviously were world champs last year. We knew what we were coming into,” third baseman Mike Olt said after hitting one of his team’s four home runs in a 16-9 victory Wednesday night that capped the sweep. “It’s nice to come in here and sweep the series.

“For us, I think it gives us confidence going into the All-Star break.”

After winning low-scoring games Monday and Tuesday nights and managing only six runs in their previous four games, the Cubs (37-46) broke loose Wednesday, collecting 19 hits in improving to 24-19 over the past 43 games.

The sweep was the Cubs’ first three-gamer in interleague play since 2009 and their first on the road since 2007. The series win at Fenway, secured when Tuesday’s 2-1 decision followed Monday’s 2-0 win, was their first since 1915.

“It’s fun to take this series the way we did,” said second baseman Darwin Barney, who began Wednesday’s game batting .196 but stroked four hits, scored twice and drove in a run on what he called a memorable personal night.

“Obviously our pitching has been good. If we give them a little more run support, they’ll be a lot better.”

Center fielder Justin Ruggiano, catcher Welington Castillo and right fielder Nate Schierholtz also homered for the Cubs.

Ruggiano, who came in with 10 RBIs for the season, drove in five and had three hits in the onslaught that was capped by a six-run ninth inning.

The Red Sox, matching their low point by falling nine games below .500 (38-47), had not allowed more than three runs in any of their previous 14 home games. The sweep came after the optimism of winning the last two games of a weekend series against the Yankees in New York.

Two of the homers came off Boston starter Brandon Workman (1-2), who gave up three runs before getting an out and six over four innings in the marathon game that ran 4 hours, 19 minutes.

“It was a rough night from the mound,” said Boston manager John Farrell, who continues to have faith in his players and knows the American League East looks like a scramble. “Starting off, Brandon had a difficult time getting the ball down in the strike zone.”

Said Workman: “I just wasn’t sharp enough tonight.”

Everyone in the Chicago lineup had at least one hit and one run. Olt, Schierholtz, designated hitter Luis Valbuena, shortstop Starlin Castro and first baseman Anthony Rizzo collected two hits apiece. Castillo, Schierholtz, Olt and left fielder Chris Coghlan each drove in two runs.

Right-hander Carlos Villanueva (4-5) worked two innings in relief of starter Travis Wood for the win. Wood lasted just 3 2/3 innings.

Boston rookie outfielder Mookie Betts, playing in his fourth big league game, hit his first major league homer, a two-run shot.

The Red Sox stranded nine runners in the first four innings (14 for the game).

Designated hitter David Ortiz had two ground-rule doubles and a sacrifice fly, second baseman Dustin Pedroia and right fielder Brock Holt both stroked three hits, and first baseman Mike Napoli had two hits, two walks and an RBI for Boston.

Left fielder Jonny Gomes drove in two runs, and pinch hitter Daniel Nava came through with a two-run single in the three-run ninth.

Boston finished with 16 hits.

NOTES: The 16 runs and 19 hits were not season highs for the Cubs, who had 17 runs and 20 hits May 12 at St. Louis. … Boston DH David Ortiz had two ground-rule doubles, the first making him the 36th player with 1,000 career extra base hits. … Redsox.com reported the team signed two international pitching prospects — 16-year-old Christopher Acosta and Anderson Espinoza. … RHP Jason Hammel opens the Cubs’ three-game series against the Nationals in Washington on Friday. Hammel is 7-0 with a 3.12 ERA lifetime against the Nats. … Weather threatens the Red Sox’s matinee against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday. LHP Jon Lester will be looking for his 10th win of the season. … Red Sox RF Shane Victorino shagged flies before the game and will do it again Friday. He has been out since May 24 with hamstring and back problems.

 

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