Varsho HRs in 3rd straight, D-backs beat reeling Cubs 7-3

July 25, 2021 GMT
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Chicago Cubs' Willson Contreras, right, celebrates with Jason Heyward after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Chicago, Saturday, July 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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Chicago Cubs' Willson Contreras, right, celebrates with Jason Heyward after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Chicago, Saturday, July 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

CHICAGO (AP) — Big changes could be coming and there’s no telling what the Chicago Cubs’ roster will look like in a week. For now, there’s just uncertainty.

Daulton Varsho homered in his third straight game and hit a tiebreaking single in a three-run seventh inning, leading the Arizona Diamondbacks over the struggling Cubs 7-3 on Saturday.

The teams waited out a 1-hour, 39-minute rain delay after the top of the ninth on a mostly sunny and steamy afternoon. By then, the Cubs were well on their way to their 18th loss in 24 games, a startling freefall that began with them tied with Milwaukee for the NL Central lead.

They came into this one nine back of the first-place Brewers and facing huge questions about the direction of the club as the non-waiver deadline approaches on Friday. Stars Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Báez have expiring contracts, and closer Craig Kimbrel could be attractive for a contender.


“We can’t control those things,” manager David Ross said. “I would say, come to the field and enjoy an amazing atmosphere, guys that have done a lot of winning around here. I think there’s a lot of wait-and-see. I don’t think any of that’s in our control.”

Chicago grabbed the lead when pitcher Alec Mills doubled and scored on a double play in the third. Willson Contreras made it 2-0 with an opposite-field shot to right leading off the fourth against Merrill Kelly. But things fizzled for the Cubs after that.


Varsho tied it with a two-run drive against Mills in the fifth, his fourth homer. He singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh after former Diamondbacks reliever Andrew Chafin (0-2) walked the first two batters, and Asdrúbal Cabrera drove in two more with a double, making it 5-2.

“It’s just the consistent, balanced approached and (Varsho is) using the entire diamond and barreling up everything that he’s seeing and supposed to hit hard,” manager Torey Lovullo said.

Pinch hitter Andrew Young added a two-run homer in the ninth. Fans were urged to seek shelter and players left the field prior to the bottom half because of storms in the area as the grounds crew raced to get the tarp on the field.

Once the game resumed, Rizzo doubled off the center-field wall against Brett de Geus. He moved up on a fly and scored on a wild pitch before pinch hitter Jake Marisnick struck out.

Contreras then charged out of the dugout after Jason Heyward took a strike and was ejected by plate umpire Pat Hoberg. Heyward singled, and Nico Hoerner struck out to end the game.



Kelly (7-7), who is 5-0 in his past seven starts, allowed two runs and five hits in six innings after beating Chicago on Sunday. He struck out six and walked one, helping the Diamondbacks win for the fifth time in six games.

The 32-year-old right-hander spent part of his childhood living in suburban Lake Forest. His father, Tom, was general manager of the Ritz-Carlton Chicago.

Kelly golfed at Lake Shore Country Club in Glencoe about 15 minutes from his old house and had “a good amount of” childhood friends at the game.

“Those are all guys that I played baseball with, Little League, growing up,” he said. “To see how excited they are to see a guy that they grew up with pitching at Wrigley Field, especially when they’re huge Cubs fans and the feedback I get from them, it definitely is special.”

Mills went five innings for Chicago, allowing two runs and three hits.


“He’s a passionate player, I love his passion. I’ve got thrown out of games, too. I think that’s just part of the game when you’re upset. He probably has as good a feel as anybody when you’re catching about where the strike zone’s been all day.” — Ross on Contreras.


Diamondbacks: Placed INF/OF Josh Rojas (dislocated left pinkie) on the 10-day injured list and reinstated INF Cabrera (strained right hamstring). Manager Torey Lovullo said the joint on Rojas’ finger “was not comprised” and is “very stable.” He thinks Rojas could return within two weeks. Cabrera, an All-Star with Cleveland in 2011 and 2012, had been sidelined since July 9.

Cubs: RHP Jake Arrieta (right hamstring tightness) is scheduled to throw live batting practice on Monday, manager David Ross said. RHP Rowan Wick (left oblique strain), on the 60-day IL, might do the same.


The three-game series wraps up with RHP Trevor Williams (3-2, 5.68 ERA) starting for the Cubs and LHP Caleb Smith (3-6, 4.38) getting the ball for the Diamondbacks. Williams is set to make his second start and third appearance since May 26. He had been sidelined just more than a month because of appendicitis. Smith pitched into the seventh last week in a win over Pittsburgh.


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