- Associated Press - Friday, June 3, 2016

CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Cubs have their eyes fixed on their first championship since 1908 so John Lackey isn’t about to get too excited about their record, even if it is the best in the majors.

The veteran right-hander struck out nine while pitching into the seventh inning and the Cubs pulled away late to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-0 Friday for their ninth win in 10 games.

Lackey (6-2) combined with three relievers on Chicago’s sixth shutout, scattering five hits over 6 2/3 innings.

And the Cubs improved to 38-15.

“It’s too early to talk about surreal,” Lackey said. “We have high goals. We have a long way to go before we can reach that.”

Anthony Rizzo drove in the game’s first run with a two-out double in the sixth off Archie Bradley (2-1) that center fielder Chris Owings misjudged.

The Cubs then scored five times with two outs in the eighth. Addison Russell and Javier Baez each hit two-run doubles against Silvino Bracho.

Chicago improved to 7-1 on its 10-game homestand, while Diamondbacks lost for the eighth time in 11 games.

Bradley gave up one run and four hits over six innings. The 23-year-old righty struck out 10, eclipsing his previous career high of nine in Sunday’s win over San Diego, before the Cubs broke the game open against the bullpen.

“Our relief pitching was alarming,” manager Chip Hale said. “That’s frustrating. We’ll address that tomorrow.”

Chicago continued to roll along after taking three of four from the Dodgers.

Lackey kept Arizona off balance for most of the afternoon before exiting to a loud ovation in the seventh with runners on first and second after Yasmany Tomas singled. Adam Warren retired Nick Ahmed on a groundout to end the inning.

Pedro Strop pitched a perfect eighth, and Justin Grimm worked the ninth to complete Chicago’s second shutout in five games. The other came when the bullpen pitched seven perfect innings against Los Angeles after Jason Hammel exited with cramping in his right hamstring.

But the strong start by Lackey is just the latest for a rotation with the lowest ERA in the majors.

“I’ve seen some pretty good starting pitching, but this is really, really good,” manager Joe Maddon said. “You feel pretty good about them getting deep into the game.”

ON THE RUN

The Cubs’ Jason Heyward made a nice catch in right when he raced toward the gap and made a baby jump to haul in Jake Lamb’s line drive leading off the second.

HE SAID IT

Owings contradicted himself when asked about Rizzo’s double: “I felt like I got a really good read of it off the bat. I don’t know if it was the sound or whatever, I just got a bad read and it set the tone for how things went after that.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Diamondbacks: OF David Peralta (right wrist inflammation) remains on course to return from the 15-day disabled list on Monday. He had two doubles in an extended spring training game on Thursday and was expected to play Saturday and Sunday for Triple-A Reno. … RHP Shelby Miller (sprained right index finger) is scheduled to throw an extended spring game on Saturday. . Tomas was back in the lineup after missing Thursday’s game at Houston because of left knee soreness.

Cubs: Closer Hector Rondon was ready to pitch after being bothered by a sore lower back in recent days. He could have come in Thursday against the Dodgers after being unavailable Wednesday but was not needed in a lopsided win. Manager Joe Maddon said he would have tried to avoid using him against Los Angeles but was prepared to call on Rondon in this game.

UP NEXT

Jason Hammel (6-1, 2.09 ERA) tries again for his seventh win as the Cubs while LHP Edwin Escobar (0-1, 18.90) pitches for the Diamondbacks. Hammel gave up one hit in two innings against the Dodgers on Monday, before Travis Wood and three other relievers combined for seven perfect innings.


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