How Cubs’ Zach Davies paved way for sweep of Cardinals

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Davies, his ‘devastating’ changeup, pave way for sweep originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Wrigley Field crowd rose to its feet as Cubs right-hander Zach Davies broke out of the huddle on the mound and headed for the dugout, signaling the end of his start Sunday.

The standing ovation was fitting for someone who had just made it possible for the Cubs to put the finishing touches on a sweep of the Cardinals.

“Getting ahead (in the count) seemed to be a real factor,” Cubs manager David Ross said after the Cubs’ 2-0 win Sunday. “The changeup seems to be devastating right now.”

The Cubs’ offense was the story the first two games of the series, exacerbating the Cardinals' lack of pitching by knocking their starter out of the game in the fifth inning Friday and second Saturday. But on Sunday, the Cubs’ division rival got exactly the kind of start they needed to give their bullpen a breather.

Davies still claimed the win. He has not allowed a run in his last two outings, throwing at least six innings in each.

“For me, the biggest thing is just disguising the changeup and fastball, being deceptive and seeing the way hitters approach the bat,” Davies said. “Trying to read their swing and trying to see what they're trying to do in the bat gives me a little bit of an idea of what the next pitch is.”

He threw 6 2/3 shutout innings Sunday, besting Cardinals starter Carlos Martínez, who allowed two unearned runs in seven innings.

The Cubs put together a two-run rally in the third inning, after Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong muffed what could have been the inning-ending play.

“We were able to capitalize on the error,” said Cubs second baseman Eric Sogard, who scored the Cubs’ first run of the night, “and then let Zach Davies do his work and shut them down. … Tonight, he was spot-on, really able to put it where he wanted and had hitters off-balance all night.”

In the first month of the season, Davies had what he called one of the worst stretches of his career. But over his last nine starts, Davies has posted a 1.86 ERA.

The Cubs improved to 38-27 with this weekend’s sweep, six games up on the fourth-place Cardinals in the division race.

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