CHICAGO (AP) — Cole Hamels loves pitching at Wrigley Field.
No matter what the conditions are.
Hamels tossed eight sparkling innings, Willson Contreras homered twice and the Chicago Cubs cooled off the short-handed Los Angeles Angels with a 5-1 victory Friday.
With the wind blowing out at Chicago’s iconic ballpark, Anthony Rizzo and David Bote also connected to help Chicago win for the third time in four games on its first homestand of the year. While the Cubs had a solid day at the plate, Hamels limited the Angels to Albert Pujols’ second homer and four hits total.
“Nobody would want to pitch today in their right minds. He’s just a competitive guy,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “He loved coming over here last year. He wants to get back to the World Series and I think all those things you’re seeing in a performance like today. Setting a great example for the rest of the group.”
Hamels (2-0) struck out six and walked none while improving to 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 12 career starts against the Angels. He also lowered his ERA in 13 starts at Wrigley to 1.61, the best such number for any player with at least 10 starts at the 105-year-old ballpark.
“There’s just a serious comfort zone,” Hamels said. “To be able to have the type of crowds that I think I’ve been fortunate to be able to have with my starts here, even when I was a visiting team, there’s tremendous energy and I think that really plays a serious part in what I do.”
The Angels had won six in a row. But they were once again without star center fielder Mike Trout, who missed his second straight game after he strained his right groin during the team’s last homestand.
The two-time AL MVP visited Dr. Steve Yoon in Los Angeles, and general manager Billy Eppler said Trout will be re-evaluated on Sunday — taking him out of the Angels’ first trip to Wrigley since 2016.
Pujols’ fourth-inning drive was his 57th homer in 183 career games against Chicago, second only to his 58 longballs against Houston. But the Angels were unable to overcome a rough outing for Tyler Skaggs (1-2), who surrendered three long home runs in his four innings.
“Other than the home runs, I think he pitched very well, actually,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “The Cubs took advantage of a handful of mistakes and made him pay, but outside of those swings of the bat, I thought he was actually good.”
After Kris Bryant singled with one out in the first, Rizzo drove Skaggs’ next pitch to the back of bleachers in right. Rizzo’s third homer of the season traveled 472 feet, according to Statcast.
Contreras hit his fourth homer with two down, making it 3-0 with a drive to left that made it to Waveland Avenue.
“I thought like I was ready to go today,” Skaggs said. “Warm-up felt great, but I went out there and got touched up. It happens.”
Bote added his first homer of the season in the fourth, and Contreras went deep again in the sixth. Contreras’ second homer of the day also reached the street beyond the wall in left.
The Cubs paid tribute to Tommy La Stella with a pregame video in his return to Chicago after he was traded to Los Angeles in November. The 30-year-old infielder played for Chicago for four seasons, helping the Cubs win the World Series in 2016.
“I had a lot of great times here with some really special people, so it’s cool to be back and play here,” La Stella said.
La Stella pinch-hit for Skaggs in the fifth inning and lined out to center.
Angels: Ausmus said he thought Shohei Ohtani was going to hit off a machine Friday. The 2018 AL Rookie of the Year had Tommy John surgery last October. Ohtani has been taking batting practice for a couple weeks. “It’s a baby step up,” Ausmus said. The 24-year-old Ohtani isn’t expected to pitch this year, but he could return to the Angels’ lineup in May.
Cubs: C Victor Caratini was placed on the 10-day injured list after a CT scan confirmed he broke a bone in his left hand during Thursday night’s victory over Pittsburgh. He is scheduled for surgery on Monday and is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks. C Taylor Davis was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to take his place on the roster. ... LHP Mike Montgomery (mild left lat strain) is scheduled for a bullpen session on Saturday. He likely will need at least one minor league rehab appearance before returning to the Cubs.
Right-handers Chris Stratton and Kyle Hendricks get the ball on Saturday afternoon. Stratton (0-1, 6.48 ERA) picked up a no-decision in his second start for Los Angeles, allowing two runs in four-plus innings in the Angels’ 7-2 victory over Texas on Sunday. Hendricks (0-2, 6.48 ERA) struggled in each of his first two outings, yielding 18 hits in 8 1/3 innings.
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