Schwarber homers as Cubs beat White Sox 6-1Chicago Cubs' Kyle Schwarber, left, celebrates after hitting a one-run double as Chicago White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada reacts during the third inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Schwarber homered and drove in two runs, and the Cubs beat the crosstown White Sox 6-1 on Sunday to lower their magic number for clinching the NL Central title to five.
Ben Zobrist had three hits and Kyle Hendricks dazzled again as the Cubs took the rubber game of the weekend series. They also stayed 2 1/2 games ahead of second-place Milwaukee, which cruised to a 13-6 victory at Pittsburgh.
West brought some real star power to the finale of this year's Windy City series, with the rapper throwing out a surprise ceremonial first pitch alongside his son Saint. Once the game began, it was all Cubs.
''You saw the baserunning today. We scored with outs today. We moved the ball with two strikes today. We had a couple base hits to the opposite field today,'' manager Joe Maddon said. ''The ball was moved, and that's why you saw the good result.''
Playing the field for the first time since being sidelined with a back injury, Schwarber led off the second with a long drive off Carlos Rodon (6-7) for his first homer against a left-hander this season and his 26th overall. He doubled home Albert Almora Jr. in the third, giving the Cubs a 5-0 lead.
''A couple good days at the plate,'' said Schwarber, who also had two hits while serving as the designated hitter for Saturday's 8-3 victory. ''Just got to, you know, keep that good feeling going into these last couple games.''
Rodon's rough September continued as the White Sox lost for the fifth time in seven games. He was tagged for six runs and nine hits in 2 1/3 innings while dropping to 0-4 with a 6.84 ERA in five starts this month.
''I went out there and did the best I could. Definitely came up well short,'' Rodon said.
The South Siders finished with just four hits, scoring their only run on Tim Anderson's ground-rule double in the fifth.
The Cubs got four hits - in the first.
Daniel Murphy and Zobrist opened the game with consecutive singles. After Javier Baez struck out swinging, Anthony Rizzo hit an RBI double, Almora drove in Zobrist with a grounder to third and David Bote added a run-scoring single on a bouncer down the third-base line.
''They came out very aggressive,'' White Sox manager Rick Renteria said.
It was more than enough for Hendricks (13-11), who is on quite a roll heading into the final days of the regular season. The right-hander struck out five and walked none in 7 2/3 innings.
Hendricks pitched 8 2/3 innings of one-run ball in a 5-1 victory at Arizona last Monday. He is 4-1 with a 1.37 ERA in his last six starts.
''This has been a different end to the season for me, going this deep into ballgames back to back, kind of,'' he said. ''I haven't had that before, but it's really just a product of having a good lead. We've had a lot of runs up there and I've just been making some good pitches.''
HAWK'S LAST DAY
Longtime White Sox broadcaster Ken ''Hawk'' Harrelson worked his final game, closing out a colorful TV career after three-plus decades in the booth. He wiped away a few tears when he was shown on the videoboard in center before the bottom of the ninth, and he waved and tapped his heart when the White Sox and Cubs applauded and waved their hats toward the booth after the final out.
Cubs: 3B Kris Bryant was held out because of fatigue in his left shoulder. The 2016 NL MVP was on the disabled list from July 26 to Sept. 1 with left shoulder inflammation. He missed time earlier in the season with the same issue. Maddon said Bryant's shoulder is ''a little bit fatigued, not hurting, just fatigued.''
Cubs: LHP Cole Hamels (9-10, 3.90 ERA) starts Monday night against Pittsburgh in the opener of a seven-game homestand that wraps up the regular season. Jameson Taillon (13-9, 3.24 ERA) pitches for the Pirates.
White Sox: RHP Dylan Covey (5-13, 5.33 ERA) gets the ball for the opener of a three-game series against AL Central champion Cleveland. Corey Kluber (19-7, 2.93 ERA) pitches for the visiting Indians on Monday night.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports