CHICAGO (AP) — Kyle Schwarber homered and drove in two runs, and the Chicago Cubs beat the crosstown White Sox 6-1 on Sunday to lower their magic number for clinching the NL Central title to five.
Ben Zobrist had three hits and Kyle Hendricks dazzled again as the Cubs took the rubber game of the weekend series.
They also stayed 2½ games ahead of second-place Milwaukee, which cruised to a 13-6 victory at Pittsburgh.
Playing the field for the first time since being sidelined with a back injury, Schwarber led off the second with a long drive off Carlos Rodon (6-7) for his first homer against a left-hander this season and his 26th overall.
He also doubled home Albert Almora Jr. in the third, giving the Cubs a 5-0 lead.
Rodon’s rough September continued as the White Sox lost for the fifth time in seven games.
He was tagged for six runs and nine hits in 2 1/3 innings while dropping to 0-4 with a 6.84 ERA in five starts this month.
The South Siders finished with just four hits, scoring their only run on Tim Anderson’s ground-rule double in the fifth.
Moments after rapper Kanye West and his son Saint surprised the sellout crowd of 39,449 with ceremonial first pitches, the Cubs got right to work.
Daniel Murphy and Zobrist opened the game with consecutive singles.
After Javier Baez struck out swinging, Anthony Rizzo hit an RBI double, Almora drove in Zobrist with a grounder to third and David Bote added a run-scoring single on a bouncer down the third-base line.
It was more than enough for Hendricks (13-11), who is on quite a roll heading into the final days of the regular season. The right-hander struck out five and walked none in 7 2/3 innings.
Hendricks pitched 8 2/3 innings of one-run ball in a 5-1 victory at Arizona last Monday. He is 4-1 with a 1.37 ERA in his last six starts.
HAWK’S LAST DAY
Longtime White Sox broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson worked his final game, closing out a colorful TV career after three-plus decades in the booth.
He wiped away a few tears as the crowd cheered when he was shown on the video board in center before the bottom of the ninth.
Cubs: 3B Kris Bryant was held out because of fatigue in his left shoulder. The 2016 NL MVP was on the disabled list from July 26 to Sept. 1 with left shoulder inflammation. He missed time earlier in the season with the same issue. Manager Joe Maddon said Bryant’s shoulder is “a little bit fatigued, not hurting, just fatigued.”
Cubs: LHP Cole Hamels (9-10, 3.90 ERA) starts Monday night against Pittsburgh in the opener of a seven-game homestand that wraps up the regular season. Jameson Taillon (13-9, 3.24) pitches for the Pirates.
White Sox: RHP Dylan Covey (5-13, 5.33) gets the ball for the opener of a three-game series against AL Central champion Cleveland. Corey Kluber (19-7, 2.93) pitches for the visiting Indians on Monday night.
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