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Cubs rollicking at Wrigley with another sweep, this time against rival Cardinals

With their 2-0 victory Sunday, the Cubs are 24-10 at home. The Cards joined the Mets, Dodgers and Padres as victims of sweeps at Wrigley Field. 

Closer Craig Kimbrel worked around a walk to Paul Goldschmidt by striking out Dylan Carlson, Nolan Arenado and Tyler O’Neill to earn his 18th save.
Closer Craig Kimbrel worked around a walk to Paul Goldschmidt by striking out Dylan Carlson, Nolan Arenado and Tyler O’Neill to earn his 18th save.
Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Last season, teams essentially lost their home-field advantage with no fans in the stands. Where they typically have a winning record at home, teams saw that drop to about .500 in 2020, a difference chalked up to the empty seats.

In 2021, the Cubs are trending back toward normal — and then some — at Wrigley Field. With their 2-0 victory Sunday against the Cardinals, they are 24-10 at home.

The series was the first of the season with full capacity crowds, and the added energy helped fuel the Cubs’ fourth sweep at home. The Cardinals joined the Mets, Dodgers and Padres as Wrigley victims.

‘‘It’s incredible,’’ Cubs starter Zach Davies said of the Wrigley crowds. ‘‘I’ve played here quite a bit playing with Milwaukee and seeing a packed house, but especially now that fans are back in the ballpark and at 100% here in Wrigley, everybody’s got life.’’

The Cubs won the finale mostly because of Davies, who was as crisp as he has been all season. Davies allowed two hits, struck out six and walked two in 6⅔ innings.

‘‘Getting ahead seemed to be a real factor,’’ manager David Ross said, describing Davies’ success. ‘‘The changeup seems to be devastating right now.’’

Davies said he thought he was able to disguise his fastball and changeup well, which helped him get away with leaving his off-speed pitch up in the zone a couple of times.

‘‘Stuff-wise, everything felt pretty good tonight,’’ Davies said. ‘‘Being able to throw strikes, get ahead of guys. There were some deep counts, but being able to throw that changeup in those big situations kept guys off-balance.’’

Davies has reduced his ERA from 9.47 to 4.01 in his last nine starts, a change Ross attributes partially to better action on his fastball than what he was getting early in the season.

‘‘I talk a lot about fastball command,’’ Ross said. ‘‘But right now, he’s getting ahead with the fastball. He knows where that’s going when he wants to throw the fastball.’’

Through six innings, Davies had faced one batter more than the minimum. Tyler O’Neill was the Cardinals’ first baserunner, but he was on only momentarily. He singled in the fifth but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.

Otherwise, Davies squelched any scoring attempts. Matt Carpenter walked to lead off the sixth and moved into scoring position on pitcher Carlos Martinez’s sacrifice, but he got no further. Dylan Carlson doubled at the start of the seventh but was left stranded.

Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel combined to get the last seven outs. In the ninth, Kimbrel worked around a walk to Paul Goldschmidt by striking out Carlson, Nolan Arenado and O’Neill, earning his 18th save and dropping his ERA to 0.66.

The Cubs struggled to get baserunners against Martinez but capitalized when the chance came.

Entering the game, the Cardinals had 43 errors; their 44th came in the third. Shortstop Paul DeJong bobbled a grounder by Joc Pederson that set up two unearned runs for the Cubs.

Before June started, the month was expected to be a crucible for the Cubs. Lots of games against challenging teams and a West Coast swing would test whether the happy days of May were for real. Close to halfway through June, they are 8-4 against that schedule and thankful for the timing of capacity crowds.

‘‘We’ve missed that the last year and, really, this whole season until now,’’ infielder Eric Sogard said. ‘‘Truly special to have that energy, and you see how much it helped us out there. I think it was a big part of helping us get that sweep.’’