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Cubs 9, Diamondbacks 2

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO - Right-hander Jason Hammel threw seven strong innings, third baseman Mike Olt hit his fourth home run, and the Chicago Cubs won consecutive games for the first time this season with a 9-2 win Tuesday over the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks.

Hammel began the day with baseball's lowest WHIP at 0.73, and he continued his strong first month with the Cubs. During those seven innings, Hammel (3-1) allowed four hits and one run while striking out four, bouncing back from his April 16 loss to the Yankees.

Olt's home run - a three-run blast in the fifth off Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy - helped the Cubs win two straight for the first time since Sept. 9-10 against Cincinnati. Along with Olt's home run, second baseman Luis Valbuena had two hits and scored three times while right fielder Nate Schierholtz and center fielder Justin Ruggiano had two RBIs for Chicago, which scored four times in the fifth and eighth and won back-to-back games at Wrigley Field for the first time since Sept. 4-6 against Miami and Milwaukee.

With a win Wednesday or Thursday, the Cubs can clinch their first series of the season and their first since taking two of three from the Reds on Sept. 9-11, a span of 11 series.

For the Cubs, Arizona's visit has been perfectly timed.

The Diamondbacks lost their fourth straight and 10th of 11 to plummet to 13 games below .500. Other than catcher Tuffy Gosewisch's sixth-inning solo home run, the scuffling Arizona offense didn't do much to help McCarthy.

McCarthy (0-4) went five innings and allowed seven hits, five runs (one earned) and struck out a season-high six. His night was undone by four unearned runs in the fifth, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 5-0 hole.

McCarthy needed 25 pitches to get through the first, but he ended the inning scoreless when he got Starlin Castro to ground into a fielder's choice.

Hammel retired the first six batters he faced, but Chris Owings led off the third with an infield single when first baseman Anthony Rizzo fielded a sharp grounder but lost a race to the base. Owings was erased on the next at-bat when Gosewisch grounded into a double play.

Like his counterpart, Hammel got off to a strong start. After the first inning, McCarthy struck out the next four batters he faced before Valbuena's one-out double in the third. Valbuena would go onto score the first run of the game on Schierholtz's two-out single.

The Cubs then blew the game open in the fifth, scoring four times. Valbuena scored on Schierholtz's sacrifice fly, then with two outs, Olt took a 3-1 McCarthy pitch into the right-field bleachers for a three-run homer that gave Chicago a 5-0 lead.

All four runs were unearned thanks to Martin Prado's one-out error on a Rizzo grounder.

NOTES: Cubs president Theo Epstein said the team has been "plucky" so far but bemoaned its bullpen and offensive issues. As for Wednesday's 100th anniversary of the first game at Wrigley Field reminding him of the franchise's title drought, he said "I don't think I really need that kind of a reminder." ... OF Mark Trumbo was out of the Arizona lineup because of a sore left foot. "It just got sore in the game last night late in the game," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "Something that popped up, just kind of sore so we'll take it easy." ... RHP Jake Arrieta will likely get one more rehab start before returning to the Cubs. Arrieta hasn't pitched in the majors this season because of right shoulder tightness, and had his fourth rehab appearance Monday, allowing five runs -- three earned -- and five hits over 5 2/3 innings. ... Wednesday's pitching matchup is Arizona LHP Wade Miley (2-2, 4.35 ERA) against Chicago RHP Jeff Samardzija (0-2, 1.29 ERA).

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