Left fielder Ian Happ delivers late in Cubs’ 5-1 win


Left fielder Ian Happ stopped and stared as the ball traveled in the air.

He didn’t crush it, but with how the wind has acted the last couple of days at Wrigley Field, who knew if it would leave the park?

As it turned out, the Cubs finally got the home run that had eluded them during their offensive drought. Happ’s three-run shot to left-center in the seventh inning sealed the Cubs’ 5-1 victory Saturday against the Cardinals.

The Cubs’ five runs were their most since they beat the White Sox 7-6 on June 5.

‘‘We got a big hit and a little bit of exhale, for sure,’’ manager Craig Counsell said. ‘‘It’s a game-changer.’’

Amid the offensive struggles, Counsell has said that the Cubs are doing the right things but that the results aren’t showing up in the box score.

Their fortunes turned slightly Saturday. First baseman Cody Bellinger scored the Cubs’ first run in the fourth inning after Cardinals pitcher Chris Roycroft bobbled a dribbler along the first-base line hit by Nico Hoerner.

For weeks — whether it was because of the weather or bad luck — the Cubs weren’t getting those types of breaks.

They went only 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, but Happ’s homer was the decisive hit.

‘‘[It’s great] to give us a little bit of a cushion, a little bit easier in the bullpen,’’ Happ said. ‘‘To not have to give the bullpen a one-run lead and try to ask them to hold it.’’

Wicks update

The Cubs put left-hander Jordan Wicks on the 15-day injured list with a Grade 2 strain of his right oblique and recalled right-hander Keegan Thompson from Triple-A Iowa.

In 10 relief appearances at Iowa, Thompson had a 4.40 ERA. The move gives the Cubs another arm in the bullpen as they deal with injuries to Wicks and right-hander Ben Brown (neck).

Counsell said he hadn’t talked with president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer about bringing in outside reinforcements.

‘‘We’re always talking about trying to improve the team,’’ Counsell said. ‘‘That conversation happens at all times of the year. But nothing beyond that.’’

With no trades imminent, right-hander Kyle Hendricks likely will return to the rotation after posting a 10.57 ERA in seven starts.

Injury updates

Right-hander Yency Almonte, who’s out with a strained right shoulder, threw a live bullpen session Friday in Arizona and returned to Chicago for his next steps. Counsell said Almonte will throw another bullpen session Monday or Tuesday, then begin a rehab assignment.

• Right-hander Julian Merryweather threw 26 pitches in a bullpen session Friday. He’s recovering from a stress fracture in his ribs and isn’t expected back until after the All-Star break.

• Right-hander Caleb Kilian, who’s out with a shoulder injury, threw 32 pitches in a bullpen session Friday.





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