Cubs, Garza dominate Phillies

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Cubs, Garza dominate Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- Matt Garza pitched one-hit ball for seven shutout innings and struck out 10 Sunday as the Chicago Cubs beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-1. Garza (2-1) gave up a pop-fly single to Jimmy Rollins leading off the first and nothing more. Garza retired 20 of the next 21 batters, with Juan Pierre's seventh-inning walk accounting for the only other baserunner. After reliever Rafael Dolis pitched a perfect eighth, Cubs closer Carlos Marmol was shaky in the ninth. Marmol walked a pair and Hunter Pence's infield single with two outs loaded the bases. Marmol then walked Ty Wigginton to force home a run before getting Shane Victorino on a game-ending groundout. Besides Rollins' single, the Phillies didn't have anything even close to a hit off Garza, who was lifted after 103 pitches. Joe Mather homered and Bryan LaHair doubled twice for the Cubs. Jeff Baker and Tony Campana each added two hits.

Kyle Kendrick (0-2), making his second start in place of injured left-hander Cliff Lee, allowed two earned runs and five hits in six innings. He matched his career high with seven strikeouts. Once again, the Phillies' short-handed offense wasn't able to provide much run support for its starters. Philadelphia has scored two runs or less in 12 of 22 games this season. The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the second on Ian Stewart's groundout that scored LaHair. Chicago could have tallied more, with runners on second and third with one out, but Kendrick struck out Welington Castillo and Garza to escape further trouble. Chicago tacked on a run in the third, thanks to the speed of Campana. After he singled, Campana went to second when Laynce Nix failed to catch Kendrick's throw on a pickoff attempt, then to third on Darwin Barney's groundout. Campana scored on Starlin Castro's fly ball to medium right field, just beating the strong throw of Pence. Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel came out to argue the safe call of plate umpire Bill Miller, but replays appeared to confirm the call was correct. Mather's line-drive homer to left with two outs in the fourth put Chicago up 3-0. Campana's speed showed up again in the eighth when he reached on an infield single, stole second went to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Castro's grounder that didn't even reach the infield dirt. NOTES: -- The crowd of 45,550 was Phillies' 229th straight sellout, including postseason play.-- Wigginton went 0 for 3, ending his 13-game hitting streak.-- Garza has pitched eight complete games and three shutouts in 154 career starts, including a no-hitter on July 26, 2010 as a member of Tampa Bay against Detroit.
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Jon Lester explains absence from Cubs' White House trip: 'Absolutely nothing political'

Jon Lester explains absence from Cubs' White House trip: 'Absolutely nothing political'

Jon Lester didn't make any sort of statement by missing Monday's White House trip with his Cubs teammates. But at a polarizing moment in a divided country, a high-profile player on a World Series team felt the need to respond on social media and explain his absence from the championship ceremony. 

President Barack Obama name-checked Lester during his East Room speech – both for his spectacular pitching performance and beat-cancer charitable initiatives – as the Cubs continued their victory tour off the franchise's first World Series title since Theodore Roosevelt lived in the White House.

Lester stood behind Obama when the 2013 Boston Red Sox were honored on the South Lawn. During that 2014 ceremony, Lester stood next to John Lackey, another Cub who missed this Washington trip. Lester also toured George W. Bush's White House with Boston's 2007 championship team.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day – and with the specter of Donald Trump's inauguration looming – Obama used his administration's final official White House event to draw a direct line between him and Jackie Robinson and highlight the connective power of sports.

"The best part was the president talking about how sports brings people together," All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo said, "how no matter what's going on in this country and the world, three or four hours of any one particular game can just rally so many people together." 

This team couldn't have created so much joy for generations of fans without Lester, who signed a $155 million contract with the last-place Cubs after the 2014 season, a transformational moment during the long rebuild that led to the White House trip that Obama never thought would happen.

"It was a thrill and an honor for all of us," team president Theo Epstein said. "It means so much more with his roots in Chicago and his final days in office. It couldn't have worked out any better. It's something we'll all remember for our whole lives."

The time Addison Russell froze up after getting a text from Eddie George

The time Addison Russell froze up after getting a text from Eddie George

Plenty of Cubs fans surely were star-struck to meet Addison Russell at Cubs Convention last weekend. But the 22-year-old All-Star shortstop has a shortlist of people he would be amazed to meet, too. 

Russell reveres President Barack Obama, on Friday the outgoing Commander-in-Chief's work in the community when talking about getting to visit the White House. So on Monday, Russell got to check off meeting one of the people on his list. "There's probably about three people that I would be star-struck by, and (Obama's) one of them," Russell said. 

One of those three spots is "open," Russell said. The other member of that list is former Ohio State and Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George. 

Russell wears his No. 27 because of George, who wore that number during his career in which he made four Pro Bowls and rushed for over 10,000 yards and 78 touchdowns. Prior to the 2016 season, George sent Russell and autographed Titans helmet inscribed with good luck message.

After the season, Russell said George texted him seeing if the newly-crowned champion had time to chill. Few things rattled Russell last year — he became the youngest player to hit a grand slam in the World Series when he blasted one in Game 6 against the Cleveland Indians last November — but getting a text from George did. "I couldn't text back," Russell said. "It was nuts. I waited four days because I was thinking of what back to say."

Even the most famous athletes still get star-struck. Russell's been lucky enough in the last few months to meet and hear from two of the people who bring out that sense of awe in him. "Just to come in contact with people like that, it just makes me smile," Russell said. "It definitely gets me in the mood of getting better, and that's the goal this year, is getting better."