Contreras hits 3rd HR in 2 games, Cubs beat White Sox 8-4

Chicago Cubs closer Brandon Morrow, left, celebrates with first baseman Anthony Rizzo after the Cubs defeated the Chicago White Sox 8-4 in a baseball game Saturday, May 12, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Cubs figured it was just a matter of time before Willson Contreras would start knocking the ball around.

He sure is on a tear at the moment.

Contreras hit his third homer in two games and drove in three runs, and the Cubs beat the crosstown White Sox 8-4 on Saturday at a rainy and cold Wrigley Field.

Contreras continued his surge after hitting two home runs and setting a career high with seven RBIs in Friday’s 11-2 romp. He had an RBI single in the second, a two-run drive in the seventh and finished with three hits as the Cubs won their fifth in a row.

Contreras is 10 for 15 with eight extra-base hits, 11 RBIs and five runs over the past three games. His average has jumped from .230 to 281.

”It’s no big surprise for me,” manager Joe Maddon said. ”I think that’s who he is. When he’s right, he hits better pitching. He hits better pitching hard. He puts balls in gaps and over walls.”

He also gives protection in the middle of the order to Anthony Rizzo, on quite a tear of his own.

The three-time All-Star continued his surge with a three-run homer in a four-run first against James Shields after the start was delayed 2 hours, 15 minutes. Rizzo is batting .342 with 14 RBIs in May.

”When (Contreras) gets going, you’ve got protection for Riz and it just lengthens our lineup,” pitcher Jon Lester said. ”When you’re able to do that, it makes our jobs a lot easier (in the bottom of the order).”

Javier Baez added two hits and scored twice in his first appearance in the leadoff spot this season.

Lester (2-2) allowed one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. The four-time All-Star has a 1.82 ERA in his past five starts.

Brandon Morrow came in with runners on second and third in the ninth after right fielder Kris Bryant dropped Trayce Thompson’s fly and got three outs for his ninth save in 10 chances . He walked Tim Anderson to load the bases before retiring Jose Abreu on a game-ending grounder.

The White Sox lost their seventh straight to fall to 9-27 – the worst 36-game start in franchise history.

Matt Davidson hit a three-run homer in the eighth.

Shields (1-4) went six innings, allowing five runs and seven hits. The veteran right-hander is winless in seven starts and eight appearances since a season-opening victory at Kansas City.

”One through nine, they execute,” Shields said. ”They’re aggressive, they take pitches when they need to and they get on base when they need to and get the runners in. So that’s a tough lineup over there, no doubt about it. They’re swinging the bats right now.”

JUMPING AHEAD

The Cubs have outscored the Miami Marlins and White Sox 50-15 during their win streak. They quickly jumped on Shields in this one.

Rizzo’s drive to left-center gave him six homers this season and five in the past nine games. David Bote added an RBI single in the inning.

Contreras drove in another run with a single in the second and made it 7-1 with his homer against Chris Beck in the seventh.

QUOTABLE

”He’s an exciting point guard. You’ve got to keep your eye on him. He’s Tiny Archibald, Norm Van Lier.” – Maddon on Baez.

TRAINER’S ROOM

White Sox: Manager Rick Renteria said RHP Miguel Gonzalez (rotator cuff inflammation) had a ”little bit” of a setback on Friday and a rehab assignment is not imminent.

Cubs: Maddon had no update on RF Jason Heyward (concussion). The five-time Gold Glove winner banged his head against the right-field wall trying to rob Dexter Fowler of a game-ending homer at St. Louis last Sunday.

UP NEXT

White Sox: RHP Lucas Giolito (1-4, 7.25 ERA) – 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA in his past four starts – tries to get on track.

Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (3-2, 3.02 ERA) goes for his second straight win after holding Miami to two runs over eight innings on Monday.

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