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Happ slugs pair of 3-run homers as Cubs pound Phillies 10-2

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CHICAGO (AP) — Ian Happ hit three-run homers from both sides of the plate for a career-high six RBIs, and the struggling Chicago Cubs pounded the major league-leading Philadelphia Phillies 10-2 to avoid a three-game sweep on Thursday.

The Cubs came into the season expecting to contend for the NL Central championship. Instead, they’re last in the division. But they gave the Wrigley Field crowd of 40,143 plenty to cheer on July Fourth.

“We know how much this fan base expects and how much they deserve,” Happ said. “They come out every single day no matter what. They deserve a really good baseball team, and I think we all in this clubhouse believe that we have that in the tank. It’s been a tough stretch. But you have a game like today where you put up 10 and feel really good about it, let’s see if we can keep that rolling.”

Chicago trailed 2-0 when Happ connected from the right side against starter Cristopher Sánchez during a five-run fourth inning. Happ struck again batting left-handed in the fifth against Seranthony Domínguez, making it 8-2 and giving him 14 career multi-homer games.

It was the second time Happ went deep from both sides of the plate. He also singled and doubled to finish 4 for 4.

Happ got off to a slow start this season. But over 35 games since May 26, he is second in the majors with 36 RBIs.

“You’re going to have times when things don’t feel right,” he said. “When the wind’s blowing in, you’re hitting things straight into the wind or you’re striking out. Part of that is believing that you’re going to hit one of those hot streaks and get back on track. For me personally, that was early in the year. The first six weeks were a struggle and really difficult and challenging, and believing that I was going to get to that place where I right the ship.”

Jameson Taillon (5-4) pitched seven innings, allowing two runs and four hits. The right-hander struck out seven and walked none.

Seiya Suzuki scored three times and the Cubs came away with an easy win after dropping eight of 10. They also stopped a seven-game losing streak against the Phillies dating to last season.

Philadelphia’s Brandon Marsh singled home a run in the first. Nick Castellanos made it 2-0 in the fourth with a rocket to left-center for his 12th home run, but Sánchez (6-4) simply didn’t have it coming off a shutout against Miami last week and his first career complete game.

The left-hander got tagged for seven runs and seven hits after going 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in his previous three starts. He exited with none out in the fifth after Cody Bellinger and Suzuki singled.

Happ broke open the game when he greeted Domínguez with a drive to right for his 13th homer. He became the first Cubs player to connect from both sides since Victor Caratini in a loss at Pittsburgh on July 3, 2019.

“Ian had some huge swings,” manager Craig Counsell said. “We got men on base in front of him for those swings. Two three-run homers puts a smile on everybody’s face, for sure.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: RHP Mark Leiter Jr. (strained forearm) will likely face hitters within the next few days, assuming no setbacks following his bullpen session on Wednesday, pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said. Hottovy had not spoken to Leiter. … Hottovy said RHP Yency Almonte (strained right shoulder) will probably decide “in the next day or so” between surgery or a strengthening program. Almonte has been out since May 7.

UP NEXT

Phillies: RHP Aaron Nola (9-4, 3.43 ERA) gets the ball Friday as the Phillies open a three-game series at Atlanta, while the Braves go with LHP Max Fried (7-3, 2.91). Nola is coming off a loss to Miami in which he gave up three runs in 6 2/3 innings. Fried has a 1.56 ERA in his past three starts.

Cubs: Open a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, with LHP Justin Steele (0-3, 3.20 ERA) starting for Chicago. Steele went six innings and allowed three runs in the Cubs’ win at Milwaukee on Saturday.

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

By ANDREW SELIGMAN
AP Sports Writer

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