Moncada homers as White Sox win 9-5; Cubs clinch NL Central
CHICAGO (AP) — The White Sox picked up a victory they sorely needed and the Cubs clinched a division championship. Consider it a win-win for Chicago.
Yoan Moncada homered, José Abreu hit a three-run double and the playoff-bound White Sox beat the NL Central champion Cubs 9-5 at Guaranteed Rate Field to snap a season-high six-game losing streak Saturday.
The Cubs clinched their third division title in five years when St. Louis lost 3-0 to Milwaukee. They traded high-fives and fist bumps in the dugout after that game ended.
Chicago will be home for a best-of-three series at Wrigley Field beginning Wednesday against an opponent still to be determined.
The White Sox were on their way by the time the Cardinals lost to the Brewers, and remained a game behind AL Central leader Minnesota, with the Twins beating Cincinnati. Chicago also took sole possession of second place, with Cleveland losing to Pittsburgh.
The White Sox need another victory Sunday over the Cubs and a Minnesota loss at home to Cincinnati to win the division title by virtue of the tiebreaker Chicago holds over the Twins. That would be another big mark for a team headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
“It would mean a lot for all of us that have been here for the last couple of years,” Moncada said through a translator. “It would be a really good starting point for us for the next season because we would have that foundation there.”
The Cubs won division championships in 2016 and 2017. But they missed the playoffs last season after four straight appearances, and this year hasn’t exactly been smooth. They won 13 of their first 16 games, only to go 20-23 since then.
“A lot of hard work from those guys, a lot of overcoming a lot this year,” said manager David Ross, who replaced Joe Maddon after last season. “Really a unique season and I couldn’t be prouder of what these guys mean to me and this organization, and how they carried themselves.”
Anthony Rizzo called winning the division a “big exhale” for the Cubs.
“Not making the playoffs last year, losing the wild-card game the year before that, this one feels good,” he said. “With the 60-game season and just everything that has gone on, it just feels good to win the division and be able to play at home and take our playoff experience to whoever we’re going to play.”
WHITE SOX RALLY
Kris Bryant propelled the Cubs to a 5-2 lead, hitting a single and scoring in the second inning and launching his fifth career grand slam in the third — a long drive down the left-field line against rookie Dane Dunning.
But the South Siders took advantage of some shaky defense while chasing Jon Lester (3-3) in a five-run fourth. Abreu made it 7-5 when he greeted Ryan Tepera with a three-run double to left.
Moncada bumped the lead to four with his two-run drive against Jason Adam in the sixth — his first homer since Aug. 17. James McCann hit a solo homer in a two-run second, and five relievers combined to hold the Cubs to two hits after Dunning lasted just three innings.
The 25-year-old right-hander gave up five runs — four earned — and three hits. He walked three and hit a batter with a pitch.
Matt Foster (6-1) worked a perfect fourth and got the win.
Lester got tagged for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings and gave up six hits in another rough outing against the White Sox. The five-time All-Star gave up a season-high eight runs against them in a 10-1 loss at Wrigley Field on Aug. 21. And with his six-year, $155 million contract expiring, this could be his final regular-season start with the Cubs.
CORDERO, RENTERIA SUSPENDED
Major League Baseball suspended White Sox reliever Jimmy Cordero for three games Saturday and fined him an undisclosed amount for hitting the Cubs’ Willson Contreras with a pitch the previous day.
Manager Rick Renteria was suspended for one game, and he and pitching coach Don Cooper were also fined. Renteria, who served his suspension on Saturday, expected Cordero to appeal his punishment.
Cubs: Bryant (lower right oblique tightness) was back in the lineup after missing four games.
White Sox: OF Eloy Jiménez (sprained right foot) is “progressing positively” and the White Sox “remain optimistic” he will be ready for the start of the playoffs, Renteria said. Jiménez, batting .296 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs, was out of the lineup for the second straight game after he was hurt sliding across home plate at Cleveland on Thursday.
The two teams close out the regular season, with RHP Adbert Alzolay (0-1, 3.31 ERA) starting for the Cubs and RHP Reynaldo Lopez (1-2, 4.68) for the White Sox. Alzolay has 21 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings over five appearances — three starts. Lopez has a 2.35 ERA in his past three starts.
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