CHICAGO (AP) — Joe Maddon has managed teams that eased up on what he calls “sweep day.”
That’s not the case with this year’s Chicago Cubs.
Ben Zobrist hit a three-run homer, John Lackey pitched seven solid innings and the Cubs completed a sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies with a 7-2 victory Sunday.
Miguel Montero added a solo homer and drove in two runs as the Cubs won their fifth straight and completed their sixth series sweep of the season.
“Many times you’ll see a team not have the same sense of urgency on sweep day after you’ve won the series,” Maddon said. “I really like that our guys aren’t satisfied with just winning a series.”
Zobrist’s two-out drive to right off Vince Velasquez (5-2) made it 5-0 in the third. It extended Zobrist’s hitting streak to 15 games and put the Cubs (34-14) on the way to becoming the first team this season to get to 20 games over .500.
“Now the next goal is 25,” Maddon said.
Tyler Goeddel’s solo homer in the seventh was the lone blemish for Lackey (5-2), who gave up four hits and struck out six in his sixth straight quality start.
Velasquez allowed seven runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings in the Phillies’ first sweep at Wrigley Field since 1995. He has yielded five homers in his last two starts.
“The Cubs have a very good team, probably the best team in baseball right now and they beat us fair and square,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “Lackey was good, mixed his pitches, he pitched a good ballgame. We didn’t string any hits together.”
The Phillies have dropped seven of nine and were swept for the first time since their season-opening series against Cincinnati despite a lineup shake-up.
Tommy Joseph started at first base in place of Ryan Howard even with a right-hander starting and then homered in the ninth off Justin Grimm. Andres Blanco played second and hit third.
But Philadelphia scored two or fewer runs for the sixth time in nine games.
A miserable weekend for the Phillies included the end of Freddy Galvis’ 44-game streak without an error at shortstop. He booted Jason Heyward’s grounder in the fifth. Heyward scored on Kris Bryant’s single and Velasquez was lifted after Montero’s RBI single three batters later made it 7-0.
That was more than enough for Lackey, who lowered his ERA to 3.16. That ranks fifth in the Cubs’ stout rotation behind Jake Arrieta (1.72), Jason Hammel (2.17), Jon Lester (2.48) and Kyle Hendricks (2.93).
“We’re pretty good, for sure,” Lackey said. “Starting pitching has been pretty good. We’ve obviously scored a lot of runs. There’s still a long way to go, but the potential to do something special is there.”
Phillies: OF Cody Asche (oblique) went 2 for 12 in three rehab games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Cubs: CF Dexter Fowler stayed in after sliding awkwardly into C Cameron Rupp’s shin guard at home on Anthony Rizzo’s RBI single in the first.
The Cubs also have swept the Angels, Reds, Brewers, Pirates and Nationals. They are 11-4-1 in 16 series.
Zobrist became the first Cubs player to collect 40 hits in May since Alfonso Soriano in 2008.
“I’m trying to figure out myself if I can keep this up, to be honest,” Zobrist said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a month where I’ve hit this well.”
The 24-year-old Joseph hit his third homer and went 1 for 4 in place of Howard. The 2006 NL MVP is hitting .154 with 50 strikeouts after an 0-for-4, two-strikeout game Saturday.
“I haven’t heard anything about sitting more against righties,” Howard said. I haven’t been called in the office and talked to. You guys apparently have breaking news before I do.”
Phillies: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (4-3, 3.97 ERA) starts Monday night against Washington RHP Tanner Roark (3-4, 2.71 ERA) to begin an 11-game homestand.
Cubs: RHP Jason Hammel (6-1, 2.17 ERA) faces Dodgers LHP Alex Wood (1-3, 4.03 ERA) on Monday at Wrigley Field. The Cubs won’t face Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw in the four-game series. “Bummer, man,” Maddon said, smiling.