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CHICAGO (AP) — On a perfect day to play home run derby at Wrigley Field, the big winner was Josh Rojas.
Rojas launched his first three longballs of the season and the Arizona Diamondbacks powered past the Chicago Cubs 10-6 Friday.
With a strong wind blowing out on a warm afternoon, the teams combined to clear the brick walls 11 times — the Diamondbacks connected for seven homers.
“I’ve had multi-homer games in the minor leagues and multi-hit games in the the minor leagues, but I’ve never done anything like this,” Rojas said. “This is a pretty good feeling, especially coming into the game with zero and leaving with three.”
David Peralta went deep twice and Alek Thomas and Christian Walker added solo shots as the Diamondbacks won their second straight after a six-game slide.
“These days have been happening here in this stadium for long, long time,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “Whether they’re wind-aided or not they’re HRs and I was proud of the way we fought against a very tough pitcher.”
Rojas posted his first three-homer game and third career multi-homer effort. After a flyout in the first inning, he hit a solo homer in the third, a two-run drive in the fifth and another solo home run in the seventh.
Rojas led off the ninth with a chance to tie the big league record of four home runs in a game, but struck out looking. There have been 18 four-homer games performances in the majors, the last by J.D. Martinez for the Diamondbacks in 2017.
“I was definitely trying to hit a fourth homer in the fifth at-bat, especially with a four-run lead,” Rojas admitted.
Rojas said he was trying to get the ball into the air in his first at-bat, but lofted only a lazy fly to left.
“That’s when I talked to the hitting coach and I’ve got to think low line drives,” he said. “And hopefully if I get it high enough, the wind will take care of it.”
The approach worked and Rojas connected in his next three at-bats. He might have strayed in his final plate appearance in the ninth and was called out.
The versatile Rojas, who started at third base, entered batting .250 with three RBIs in 13 games after being reinstated from the injured list on May 6. The 27-year-old had been out with a strained right oblique.
“He’s a good hitter,” Lovullo said. “He’s got a nose for the baseball. It’s not necessarily true power, but I think the power is in there.”
On a day when the Cubs honored Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, they lost their third in a row. Jenkins, in fact, led the National League in home runs allowed during five of his 10 seasons with Chicago.
Jonathan Villar homered and doubled for the Cubs in his 1,000th big league game. Patrick Wisdom hit his seventh homer to end an 0-for-10 slump
Cubs rookie Christopher Morel and Ildemaro Vargas also homered.
Humberto Castellanos (3-1) allowed three runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings for the win. He was pulled after reaching for his right hamstring, but Lovullo said the right-hander doesn’t have a serious injury.
Rojas and Peralta tagged Kyle Hendricks (2-4) with Arizona’s first four homers as the Cubs ace righty yielded a season-high seven runs and eight hits in five innings. Hendricks entered having allowed just one run in his previous 14 1/3 innings.
Hendricks said the wind didn’t affect his effort.
“You approach it just the same,” he said. “Today I felt pretty good, to be honest. Made a lot of good pitches. They put some good swings on a couple of pitches I missed there and that was really it.”
Rojas and Peralta hit solo drives off Hendricks in the third to put Arizona ahead 4-2. The pair went deep again, one out apart in the fifth, to make it 7-3. Peralta recorded his fourth multi-homer game.
Morel and Vargas hit back-to-back homers in the seventh off Caleb Smith to pull Chicago within 9-5.
After Rojas struck out in the ninth, Walker followed with his team-leading 10th homer.
“FERGIE” STATUE UNVEILED
The Cubs unveiled a statue of right-hander “Fergie” Jenkins outside Wrigley Field before the game. The metal sculpture of Jenkins delivering a pitch joins a row that includes ones of Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo.