HR in 9th saves Cubs after blowing 8-run lead

The Associated Press

Chicago Cubs reliever Koji Uehara fires a pitch in the eighth inning against the Orioles on Friday in Baltimore.

The Associated Press BALTIMORE (AP) — Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon said his team is going to lean heavily on its offense to make a strong push for the playoffs.

His players responded to that challenge.

Addison Russell hit a solo home run in the ninth inning and the Cubs beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-8 after squandering an eight-run lead on Friday night.

“Under the circumstances of how that game was played tonight, it was really good to finish it off,” Maddon said. “We hit the ball all over the place. I thought we did a nice job of spreading it around. I thought we did a better job of putting the ball in play. Our approach was pretty good.”

Mark Trumbo tied the game 8-8 with a two-run homer off Koji Uehara (3-4) in the eighth. Russell responded when he hit a first-pitch, 154 kph fastball off Brad Brach (2-2) over the left field fence.

“It feels good to come out with that win,” Russell said. “It’s huge. I feel like, as a team, we know the type of goals that we have to hit. We’re trying to be at the top.”

Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber hit back-to-back homers in a four-run first inning for Chicago. Ben Zobrist also homered onto the flag court behind the right field scoreboard and Jason Heyward reached Eutaw Street with another towering shot.

Chicago improved to 3-6 in interleague play after going 15-5 against the American League last season.

Welington Castillo’s ninth home run was a solo shot in the third for Baltimore, which left 10 runners on base. Trumbo went 2 for 3 with three RBIs.

“We need to play good baseball, obviously win, but show some of the signs of life that we did tonight,” Trumbo said. “We did everything we could for it to go our way, but they just did a little bit better.”

Contreras provided a 3-0 lead with a homer into the Cubs’ bullpen. Schwarber hammered Kevin Gausman’s next pitch to almost the exact spot.

“It’s frustrating,” Gausman said. “Obviously, I wanted to come out here and hit the ground running going into this second half. It was just bad.”

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