Cubs power past Orioles to win fourth consecutive game

The Cubs hit three third-inning home runs and broke the game open with a six-run sixth, scoring in double-digits for the third time in four games.

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The Cubs’ Christopher Morel hits a home run during the third inning of Friday’s game.

The Cubs’ Christopher Morel hits a home run during the third inning of Friday’s game.

Erin Hooley/AP

Manager David Ross had a simple and accurate way to describe the Cubs’ offense after their 10-3 victory Friday against the Orioles.

“The offense has really been finding their stride, getting big hits,” Ross said.

None of that can be disputed.

The Cubs homered three times in the third inning, broke the game open with six runs in the bottom of the sixth and scored double-digit runs for the third time in four games. Most importantly, the Cubs won their fourth consecutive game and sixth in seven to keep pace in the winnable National League Central, opening a series against one of baseball’s best teams with a convincing victory.

To make things better, the Cubs already got Cody Bellinger back from the injured list Thursday and will do the same Saturday with Justin Steele.

“We see what’s in front of us with our division, so we’ve just got to get hot, get on a roll,” said starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks, who allowed two runs over five innings. “We feel that sense of urgency and having those [Bellinger and Steele] is a huge part of our team.”

It doesn’t hurt to have Christopher Morel hitting the way he is.

Despite a game-time temperature of 57 degrees with winds blowing in from the north at 12 mph, Morel, Miguel Amaya and Dansby Swanson all homered to left field off Baltimore starter Cole Irvin. Morel, who ended up a triple short of the cycle, added a two-run double in the sixth.

Over his last six games, Morel is hitting .500 (11-for-22) and has driven in eight runs.

“Good for Morel,” Ross said. “He’s punishing baseballs right now. It’s pretty fun when he’s doing that.”

This Morel looks different than the one who sat on the bench for three consecutive games against the Angels. That reset looks like it’s paying off.

“Christopher comes every single day with a positive attitude,” Ross said. “He’s probably got some of the most power I’ve seen in my career. This guy can really lean on some baseballs. He’s found his stride; the plate discipline, the calmness of the at-bats seems to be real and has been a real factor since [the Angels series].”

Instead of basking in his own numbers, something else seemed to be more pressing for Morel. “Everybody’s doing good and we won the game,” he said. “That’s the point [that is] more important.”

By this point of the season, the Cubs expected to have more than 32 wins. Through most of what has been a disappointing year, they’ve struggled to put together sustained stretches where they’ve found ways to win games and deliver in key situations.

At least recently, that’s changed a little bit. Yes, scoring 38 runs over four games makes it easier to win and for Ross to manage; the Cubs won a pair of games in San Francisco against the Giants when they put up just a combined seven runs.

The Cubs’ clutch hitting, also a concern earlier this season, has ticked up. On Friday, three of the Cubs’ six runs in the decisive sixth inning came with two outs.

“We’ve had guys in scoring position all year long and not be able to come through with hits,” Ross said. “Guys are starting to swing the bat really well, trusting their plan, staying true and taking walks as well.”

Swanson also likes where things are headed, even if he regrets how the Cubs played for much of the first half of the season.

“I feel like we’ve been a lot more aggressive and playing our style of baseball recently,” Swanson said. “That’s just something that we want to continue [going] forward.”

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