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A little rest did Kris Bryant a lot of good.
Bryant ended a 24-game homerless drought [url=http://www.49erscheapstore.com/robbie-gould-jersey-cheap]Robbie Gould Jersey[/url] , the longest of his career, and Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber also went deep as the Chicago Cubs routed the St. Louis Cardinals 13-5 on Friday night.
”I know that there’s probably going to be plenty more times in my career when that happens and it’s all part of the journey,” Bryant said about his power outage. ”As much as we hate it as players, everybody goes through it at some point in their careers. It’s nothing new to me, so on the surface everything has been peachy and pretty easy for me, but it never felt easy.”
Bryant drilled a 448-foot, two-run shot to left field off an ineffective Michael Wacha in the third inning for his first home run since May 14. The 2016 NL MVP capped a six-run fifth with an RBI single and drove in another run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh. His four RBIs were a season high.
Bryant had been hitless in his four previous games. Cubs manager Joe Maddon sat the All-Star slugger on Wednesday and Thursday.
”It looked like the ball was coming (off his bat) hotter,” Maddon said. ”I thought KB looked good. He looked good. I loved the base hit, I loved the sacrifice fly.”
Jon Lester ran his scoreless streak to 17 innings before giving up a solo home run to Marcell Ozuna in the fourth as the Cubs won for the first time in four tries at Busch Stadium this season. Lester (8-2) allowed two runs in six innings to earn his fourth straight win.
”That might be the best stuff he’s had all year from my angle,” Maddon said. ”That velocity was there. He just continues to trend in the right direction.”
Lester helped himself at the plate, too, driving in a run on a bunt in the fourth and reaching on catcher Yadier Molina’s throwing error that led to a second run as the Cubs extended their lead to 5-0.
Anthony Rizzo had three hits, was hit by a pitch and scored a run. Schwarber launched a three-run homer that traveled a projected 465 feet to straightaway center in the fifth, the third-longest homer by an opposing player in Busch Stadium III history.
Happ led off the third with a home run to right field. His first homer since May 22 snapped a 20-inning scoreless streak for the Cubs.
”We hit homers but we also did the little things well, too,” Maddon said. ”We ran the bases well.”
Wacha (8-2) allowed a career-high nine runs, eight earned, in a season-low four-plus innings. The three home runs he gave up tied a career high.
”I was just falling behind in the counts,” Wacha said. ”A lot of 1-0, 2-0s and just too many mistakes and they didn’t miss too many of them.”
Matt Carpenter homered in the sixth and drove in two runs, but the Cardinals lost their third consecutive game.
”Bottom line, we lost and it wasn’t pretty,” manager Mike Matheny said. ”And it’s a matter of trying to conserve arms, trying to get a couple guys off their feet and figure out a way to have some individual things that are done well and build on and have some confidence that will put us in a better spot tomorrow.”
Cubs: RHP Yu Darvish (right triceps tendinitis) threw a 35-pitch bullpen. He is scheduled to throw another one when the team returns home next week.
Cardinals: 1B Luke Voit was recalled from Double-A Springfield and RHP Matt Bowman (right hand finger blisters) was activated from the 10-day disabled list. 1B Jose Martinez was placed on the paternity list and RHP Daniel Poncedeleon was optioned to Triple-A Memphis.
Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-6, 3.48 ERA) starts Saturday night against RHP Carlos Martinez (3-2, 2.96). Hendricks has dropped three straight decisions for the first time in his career. Martinez has walked 12 over 7 2/3 innings in two starts since returning from a lat strain.
Atlanta’s high-flying offense had its way with every defense it faced in 2016 on the way to the Super Bowl except Jim Schwartz’s unit.
The Philadelphia Eagles shut down the Falcons in a 24-15 victory in Week 10 last season, holding them to a season low in points [url=http://www.49erscheapstore.com/k_waun-williams-jersey-cheap]K'Waun Williams Jersey[/url] , first downs (11) and yards (303).
They’ll try to do it again with a berth in the NFC championship game at stake.
When the Falcons (11-6) visit the Eagles (13-3) in a divisional playoff game on Saturday, Schwartz will turn to the blueprint he used last season. But he knows that doesn’t guarantee success again.
”They are a little bit different than last year,” Schwartz said. ”It’s a new season. Playoff games stand on their own.”
Julio Jones had 10 catches for 135 yards, but didn’t score a touchdown against the Eagles in that game. Matt Ryan completed only eight passes to other receivers for 132 yards, including a 76-yard TD to Taylor Gabriel.
Schwartz doesn’t care about allowing Jones to rack up fantasy points. Keeping him out of the end zone is more important.
”If Julio Jones has 350 yards receiving and we win the game, that’s what it took to win the game,” Schwartz said.
”If he has 10 yards receiving for the game-winning touchdown, then that wasn’t enough.
”So I think you have to look at it that way. How do you stop their offense, how do you minimize their scoring and not just concentrate on one player because they do have other players that are threats. It’s not just a one-man team.”
The Eagles blitzed Ryan more than usual and the 2016 NFL MVP had his worst game of the season. He was sacked twice, threw one interception, completed only 55 percent of his passes and had a 78.7 passer rating.
Schwartz has more talent on his defense now, including more depth on the defensive line and a revamped secondary.
The Eagles often generate a strong rush without relying on the blitz and they have cornerbacks who can handle receivers one-on-one if Schwartz wants to be aggressive.
”They are a very good offensive protection team as far as picking up blitzes,” Schwartz said.
”Blitz is not a whole lot different than pass rush. You can’t expect to have guys free. If you’re expecting to get guys free, you’re in the wrong business because the only way you can really get a guy free is to bring more than they can block and there’s some risk inherent to that.
”But blitz is really all about guys winning one-on-ones, and when you do that, then your blitz game is going to be effective and I’m not just talking about one-on-ones in pass rush, but I’m talking about one-on-ones in coverage, too. Both of those go hand in hand.”
Under first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who replaced Kyle Shanahan after he left to coach San Francisco, the Falcons had a big drop-off in production. They went from No. 1 in scoring at 33.8 points per game to 15th at 22.1. They fell from second in yards to eighth.
But they still have Ryan, Jones, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Mohamed Sanu and Austin Hooper.
”They look sharp and they’re playing at a high level,” defensive end Chris Long said. ”We’ll have to bring our `A’ game.”
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