From Comcast SportsNetPHOENIX (AP) -- Lance Lynn wasn't at his best Monday night -- just good enough for five scoreless innings and another victory.The big, young St. Louis right-hander gave up three hits to become the majors' first six-game winner and the Cardinals held on for a 9-6 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.Rafael Furcal hit the 30th leadoff home run of his career for St. Louis, the first of five homers for the Cardinals on the night. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday hit consecutive homers to open the third off Joe Saunders (2-2). Allen Craig and David Freese homered to start the seventh after Arizona had scored six times in the sixth to cut the lead to 7-6."It was nice for them to come out swinging the bats right from the top, a pretty good display of some power," manager Mike Matheney said. "Then obviously the ones we got later were a lot more valuable than what we thought they would be."Lynn (6-0), the first St. Louis pitcher to start the season with six wins since Bob Tewksbury in 1994, left with a 7-0 lead. Cody Ransom hit a two-run homer in the Diamondbacks' rally."We're winning games while I'm on the mound," Lynn said. "That's all that matters."Jason Motte gave up a pair of singles in the ninth but no runs for his fifth save in six tries.Lynn struck out seven and walked four. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound 24-year-old has allowed six earned runs in six starts. It was his shortest outing of the season, and he acknowledged he had problems with his command."Tonight was a struggle," Lynn said. "You know you're not going to have your best stuff every time out. Tonight I was able to battle through it."Saunders, who entered the game with a 1.24 ERA, allowed seven runs, six earned, on nine hits in 3 1-3 innings."I just didn't have it," he said, "plain and simple."The Diamondbacks, back from a 5-5 road trip, have lost three in a row and five of six. They have dropped eight of their last 10 at home."We haven't played the way we're capable of recently," manager Kirk Gibson said. "If we're going to beat this team we're going to have to play a lot better."Furcal put St. Louis ahead to stay with a leadoff shot an estimated 441 feet onto the porch in left-center, just above the 413-foot sign. After two outs, Allen Craig singled, then scored on Freese's double into the left field corner. The Cardinals made it 3-0 when Yadier Molina singled to right field. Justin Upton's throw to the plate was high and Freese slid under catcher Miguel Montero's tag.Beltran's eighth home run, leading off the third, followed by Holliday's sixth homer of the season, put the Cardinals up 5-0.They made it 7-0, with help of an unearned run, in the fourth. Tyler Green singled, then Montero threw the ball away on Lynn's sacrifice bunt try. Furcal followed with an RBI single, then Holliday walked to load the bases. Reliever Brad Ziegler walked home the seventh run on four pitches.Arizona broke through against reliever J.C. Romero, who faced five batters without an out in the sixth inning. Montero led off with a single, then Ransom hit his fourth home run of the season, a 452-foot shot into the left field seats. Lyle Overbay walked and Aaron Hill singled, then both scored on Ryan Roberts' double. A.J. Pollack reached on an infield single, then Gerardo Parra's bunt brought Roberts home to make it 7-5 with no outs.Fernando Salas relieved Romero and retired the next two batters, but Montero's RBI singled up the middle cut the lead to 7-6.Reliever Bryan Shaw gave up home runs to Craig and Freese to start the seventh as St. Louis stretched it to a three-run game.NOTES:St. Louis batters have hit consecutive home runs four times this season. ... The Cardinals' Lance Berkman, on the DL with a left calf strain, says he expects to be activated on Friday. ... The Diamondbacks were without first base coach Eric Young because of the death of his father. Bullpen coach Glen Sherlock filled in at first base. ... Upton batted second in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 14, 2010. He was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts before being lifted in a double switch after the fifth. ... The Cardinals have scored in the first inning in each of their last seven games. ... The Diamondbacks send ace Ian Kennedy (3-1, 3.23) to the mound Tuesday night against the Cardinals' Jake Westbrook (3-2, 2.12). ... Arizona's franchise record for coming from behind to win is six runs, accomplished six times. ... The final seconds of the Phoenix Coyotes' series-clinching NHL playoff victory over Nashville were shown on the Chase Field big screen.
Lovie Smith was clear: “Rex is our quarterback.”
Phil Emery was clear: Jay Cutler is an “elite” quarterback.
John Fox isn’t so clear: When Jay Cutler is cleared to return from his thumb injury, Cutler is not automatically still the Bears starting quarterback.
"I don't think there are any givens and that's not an indictment on anybody,” Fox said on Monday. “This is a day-to-day, week-to-week, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league and so we’re just trying to get the best 11 guys out there regardless of the position to where we can play a full 60 minutes and get a victory.”
Tough love is arguably the most effective management style with Cutler. Unlike the contracts and praise heaped on Cutler by prior administrations, current coaches and the organization withheld judgment on him after taking over in 2015. Cutler, who typically played worse after getting contract extensions and gaudy compliments, responded with the best season of his career.
Cutler watched from the sidelines as the Bears were beaten 31-17 by the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday behind Brian Hoyer, who was able to give the Bears some production in the second half for the first time this year, albeit only after the Bears were down 24-3.
“I thought [Hoyer] made good decisions,” Fox said, then qualified, “Not all of them. I think the very first play of the game didn’t go quite as smooth as we’d like. I thought he did some good things. I thought the pass-pro and some of those things helped the situation. I think we did have some explosive runs — we had more explosive plays in this game than we did in the prior two. We’ll evaluate that as we move forward and prepare for Detroit.”
The ultimate question is not whether Brian Hoyer is as good as Jay Cutler.
The evaluation will be whether Hoyer had success because the pass protection and run game worked better, or the bigger question, did those phases of the offense work better because of Hoyer. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains has stated that a primary job of a quarterback is to get the other 10 players on the huddle to do theirs well. If the evaluation process, which could include another game next Sunday when the Detroit Lions come to Soldier Field, points to the offense functioning better for Hoyer, the Bears will have a major decision to make.
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Cutler has been benched because of performance only once in Chicago, late in 2014, for one game. He started the following week because Jimmy Clausen sustained a concussion.
Some perspectives on Bears QB switches
Back in 2005, while over at a social event during Super Bowl week in Detroit, a prominent member of the Bears’ defense vented on a decision that in his opinion cost the Bears their season. That decision was to go back to Rex Grossman as quarterback from Kyle Orton, who had been the quintessential game manager as a fourth-round rookie filling in while Grossman worked back from a broken ankle suffered in preseason.
“We’d’ve been here [in the Super Bowl] if we’d’a stayed with Kyle,” the Pro Bowl defender said.
That didn’t happen in the “Rex is our quarterback” phase of Smith’s tenure.
Josh McCown by his own assessment was not as good a player as Cutler in 2013 when the best-chance-to-win decision had to be made between those two. Coaches wanted to stay with McCown, the GM insisted on Cutler; the team stayed on course with Cutler, accelerated that direction actually, letting McCown leave for Tampa Bay and giving Cutler the “Jay is our quarterback” max contract.
But while Smith was invested in Grossman, who did get the Bears to the Super Bowl the next year, and Phil Emery invested in Cutler, who has won just one playoff game in his seven Bears seasons, coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace have not gone all-in on quarterbacks they inherited. They stayed with Cutler without any real alternative last year, and Fox admitted that Cutler was perhaps one of the biggest positive surprises coming out of last season, when then-coordinator Adam Gase was the loudest voice in the room on that quarterback decision and the organization stayed with the quarterback to whom millions were guaranteed.
Now there is an alternative, who like McCown was vis’a’vis Cutler, is not Cutler’s football equal physically (“Have you seen him throw?” McCown answered one reporter asking what Cutler did that he, McCown, couldn’t).
Whether the Bears take that alternative will play out in practice and possibly a game over the next seven days.
Spencer Abbott enjoyed his short stint in Rockford, which came after he was acquired by the Blackhawks in February 2015. At the time, he thought staying here was his most likely plan.
Then he got an offer Frölunda in Sweden.
“I thought, ‘why not give it a shot? Maybe it’ll be a good experience and bring it back with me,’” said Abbott on Monday. “It was worth it, for sure. I have no regrets.”
Abbott, who’s back with the Blackhawks, had never been to Europe prior to getting that Frölunda offer. But his first trip across the pond was a good one as Abbott was part of Frölunda’s run to its Swedish and Champions hockey league titles. Abbott had 14 goals and 21 assists in 51 regular-season games. Abbott got plenty out of the games, but not nearly as much as he did in the team’s training camp.
“The first month and a half you’re over there, you’re there from 8 [a.m.] to 4 [p.m.] every day. I think over here there’s a rule against being here for more than 3-4 hours, but not over there. It’s like a 9-5 job for a month and a half, a lot of working out, a lot of bike riding. So for me, that was good because I had never been in that kind of shape before,” said Abbott, who added he’s trying to incorporate some of that into his routine here. “Training camps here are hard but they’re just different over there. There’s a lot of ice, bigger ice [overseas], so they really condition you. So my conditioning may be a bit better.”
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As much as Abbott loved his time in Sweden, he ultimately wanted to be back in the NHL. So when the Blackhawks offered him a one-year deal, he jumped at it. He’s gotten off to a good start this training camp, scoring a few goals in the team’s early scrimmages.
“I wasn’t sure how it would play out, to be honest. I’m 28 and pretty early in the summer they were showing interest,” Abbott said. “This is one for the places I really wanted to come, because I did l really like the organization when I was here for that brief period of time. Now I get the full effect as long as they’ll have me. It’s such a good organization.”
Abbott probably could have kept playing overseas but he wanted another chance in the NHL. He’s happy it’s once again coming in the Blackhawks’ organization.
“It’s overwhelming. There are so many places to play hockey nowadays in Europe. There are tons of leagues over there. But it didn’t interest me,” he said. “I wanted to come back and give it one more shot.”