Busch hits game-ending HR, Bellinger goes deep in return as Cubs beat Padres 3-2 (2024)

CHICAGO (AP) — Michael Busch led off the ninth inning with a game-ending home run, Cody Bellinger went deep in his return from broken ribs and the Chicago Cubs beat the San Diego Padres 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Bellinger had three hits after missing two weeks. He gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead when he connected leading off the fourth against Randy Vásquez.

“I just wanted to make sure my swing was in a good spot,” Bellinger said. “It’s nice to see some results today.”

Shota Imanaga was in line to win his fifth straight start before the Padres broke through in the eighth.

He gave up a leadoff single to pinch hitter Luis Arraez before Jurickson Profar chased him with a two-run drive that just cleared the left-field wall. Cubs starters had gone four straight games without allowing a run — the first time in franchise history that happened in the same season, according to team historian Ed Hartig.

The Padres had a man on third with two out in the inning when second baseman Nico ho*rner raced back to make a lunging grab on Xander Bogaerts’ bloop, saving another run.

The Cubs tied it in the bottom half when Mike Tauchman walked leading off against Yuki Matsui, took third on Bellinger’s single and scored on Christopher Morel’s sacrifice fly.

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Chicago’s Héctor Neris (2-0) pitched out of a jam in the ninth, when he retired Jackson Merrill on a pop fly with runners on first and second.

Busch won it in the bottom half when, in a driving rain, he knocked the first pitch he saw from Enyel De Los Santos (1-2) out to right for his first career game-ending homer. He got mobbed by his teammates as he crossed the plate.

“It was pretty special,” Busch said. “It all happened so fast. I was just thinking about that 10, 15 minutes ago — I don’t think I’d ever had a walk-off home run in my life. It was pretty cool.”

Imanaga came through with another solid outing, allowing two runs and seven hits, struck out eight and walked one. The Japanese left-hander’s ERA rose from 0.78 to 1.08 in his seventh major league start, thanks to that home run. Profar pulled about a knee-high splitter toward the outside half of the plate just beyond the wall.

Imanaga pitched out of a first-and-second jam in the sixth. He struck out Manny Machado and Bogaerts, then smacked his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the field while the crowd roared.

“Recently, it’s been hard for me to get up in the morning so I think if I switch the fans cheering to my alarm, I think I’ll get up fast,” he said through an interpreter.

Bellinger had the crowd cheering when he connected against Vásquez. He drove a 3-2 pitch to the right-field bleachers for his sixth home run of the season.

It was a sweet return for Bellinger, who fractured two ribs on his right side when he ran into the center field wall at Wrigley Field trying to make a play against the Houston Astros on April 23. The 2019 NL MVP had been heating up prior to the injury, going 10 for 30 with three homers and seven RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak.

Vásquez went 4 1/3 innings, allowing one run and five hits in his third start this season. The right-hander struck out six and walked none, after being recalled Sunday from Triple-A El Paso with Joe Musgrove going on the injured list because of right elbow inflammation.


Cubs: Manager Craig Counsell said the Cubs planned to have Bellinger serve as the DH on Tuesday and probably Wednesday before deciding whether to play him in the field. ... The Cubs placed RHP Daniel Palencia (strained right shoulder) on the 15-day injured list. ... OF Seiya Suzuki (strained right oblique) was headed to Iowa to play Wednesday and Thursday and could return this weekend at Pittsburgh, Counsell said.


Padres RHP Dylan Cease (4-2, 2.55 ERA) makes his first start in Chicago since the White Sox traded him to San Diego, while RHP Hayden Wesneski (2-0, 0.54) gets the ball for the Cubs. The 28-year-old Cease was one of baseball’s best pitchers in 2022. He struggled last season, and the White Sox dealt him to the Padres in March.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Busch hits game-ending HR, Bellinger goes deep in return as Cubs beat Padres 3-2 (2024)


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