CHICAGO – Pitcher Jon Lester drove in Jason Heyward with a two-strike squeeze bunt in the 12th inning, and the Chicago Cubs overcame a six-run deficit to beat the Seattle Mariners 7-6 on Sunday night.
Heyward sparked the winning rally with a leadoff double off the wall in right-center. He advanced on Willson Contreras’ fly ball to center against Cody Martin (1-1) before pinch-hitting Lester managed to get a safety squeeze bunt down right in front of the plate.
Heyward made it home with a headfirst slide, sparking a frenzied celebration at Wrigley Field. Hector Rondon (2-2) pitched two innings for the win.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he used Lester as a pinch hitter “because he can do that.”
The Cubs trailed 6-3 before they pushed across three runs in the ninth against Steve Cishek, handing the sidewinding right-hander his sixth blown save in 31 opportunities. Addison Russell hit an RBI single and Contreras drove in another run when he hustled down the line to beat out a potential double-play grounder.
With two outs and runners on the corners, Cishek uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Russell to come home with the tying run. Matt Szczur then flied out to right, ending the inning,
It was a heartbreaking loss for Seattle, which was in position to take the rubber game of the weekend series before the late rally by Chicago. Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Dae-Ho Lee each hit a two-run homer against Brian Matusz, helping the Mariners jump out to a 6-0 lead after three.
Seattle ace Felix Hernandez walked five and hit a batter, but limited the Cubs to two runs in five innings in his third appearance since coming off the disabled list after being sidelined by a strained right calf.
Looking for an extra day of rest for its rotation, Chicago promoted Matusz from Triple-A Iowa for a spot start. The major league-leading Cubs also wanted to take a look at the veteran left-hander before an opt-out clause in his contract gave him the option of leaving the organization.
What they saw was a shaky three innings. Matusz, who signed a minor league deal with Chicago in June after he was cut by Atlanta, allowed six hits, walked two, threw a wild pitch and hit a batter.
Long after Matusz departed, Travis Wood worked out of a jam in the sixth and then made a solid catch while playing left field in the seventh. Wood hauled in Franklin Gutierrez’s liner as he collided with the ivy-covered wall, earning a standing ovation from the crowd of 40,952 and big smiles from Maddon and reliever Pedro Strop.
Wood returned to the mound in the eighth and threw to first as Shawn O’Malley was caught stealing to end the inning.
On the eve of the non-waiver trade deadline, Seattle dealt left-hander Wade Miley to Baltimore before closing out a 4-4 road trip to Toronto, Pittsburgh and Chicago. It went 12-12 in July, but remains in the hunt for a wild card.
“We are glad that Wade can go from one team in playoff contention to another, and to a division that he has had success in during his career,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said in an email. “This decision is the best move for the Mariners’ present and future.”
Seattle received left-hander Ariel Miranda in the trade for Miley. The Cuban pitcher has spent most of the year with Triple-A Norfolk. He appeared in one game for Baltimore on July 3 at Seattle, allowing three runs and four hits in two innings.
Matusz is the second lefty and seventh pitcher overall to start for Chicago this season. Reliever Justin Grimm was optioned to Iowa to make room on the roster.
Mariners: LHP James Paxton (3-5, 4.27 ERA) gets the ball when Seattle returns home for the opener of a four-game set against Boston on Monday night. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (2-4, 6.51 ERA) pitches for the Red Sox.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (9-7, 2.39 ERA) takes on Miami LHP Adam Conley (7-5, 3.38 ERA) on Monday in the opener of a three-game series. Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki comes to Wrigley Field just two hits shy of 3,000 for his major league career.
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