Cubs close book on 1st half with skid-ending win over Mets

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Cubs close book on 1st half with skid-ending win originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

David Ross was asked how he would characterize the first half of the Cubs’ season.

“I mean, winning is the ultimate goal, so I don't think it's a success,” the Cubs manager said.

And Ross said that Thursday, before the Cubs’ four-game series to the Mets at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs dropped the first three games vs. New York before Sunday's comeback 3-2 win.

It snapped a nine-game losing streak; a loss Sunday would have put the Cubs on their fourth double-digit skid since 2021.

Sunday’s win also broke the tie between the Cubs and Reds for last place in the NL Central.

“It leaves a good taste in your mouth when you go through a couple days off from the field,” said Adrian Sampson, Sunday’s starter, of picking up a win heading into the All-Star break.

“When you lose a lot of games in a row, you almost forget what it feels like [to win].”

The Cubs opened the month with series wins over the contending Red Sox and Brewers, making it five series wins in six tries.

And while they then competed with the Dodgers, Orioles and Mets over the last week-and-a-half, they still went 0-9 during that stretch.

“Winning baseball is the name of the game,” Ross said after Sunday’s win. “We lost way too many in a row, whether you want to talk about close games or not."

Sampson delivered another solid outing Sunday, allowing six hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings. He threw a career-high 112 pitches.

For all the close losses lately — seven of the nine during the Cubs’ skid were by two or fewer runs — they came out on the winning end this time.

Christopher Morel and Willson Contreras started the eighth inning with base hits, Ian Happ tied the game with a groundout, and Nico Hoerner delivered a go-ahead RBI single.

Ross talked pregame about some of the encouraging moments in an otherwise difficult first half, including Hoerner — who's having a strong season on both sides of the ball as he shows he’s a building block for “the next great Cubs team.”

Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson are solidifying themselves as big-league starting pitchers. Scott Effross and Brandon Hughes are proving to be reliable relievers, and Happ and Contreras will represent the Cubs at the All-Star Game this week.

But as Ross said, winning is the name of the game. As they head into the second half and beyond, the Cubs will look for more consistency and continued growth.

“I think we all know we're not where we want to be,” Ross said before Sunday’s game. “The difficult challenges we go through make us better every single day, myself included.

“The players being in the environments we're getting put in right now, we're gonna be able to handle those moments better in the long run."

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