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Kyle Schwarber avoids beer can, delivers big hit in Cubs' ninth straight win

CHICAGO – Can anything stop Kyle Schwarber or the Chicago Cubs?

Schwarber got a taste -- almost literally -- of the Cubs/Sox rivalry when a fan threw a beer can at him during the Cubs' 6-3 win on Saturday, their ninth consecutive victory.

“A tallboy,” Schwarber said, laughing afterwards. “And it wasn’t even drunk all the way.

“I guess that’s what the series is all about.”

Catcher David Ross was sitting a few stalls away and chimed in: “You should have shotgunned it and then went over there and found him. I tell you what, I’d hate to try to wrap up with Kyle Schwarber.”

The Sox probably don’t want to “wrap up” with him either, but they didn’t mind pitching to him. Dexter Fowler earned his first intentional walk of the season in front of Schwarber as the rookie stepped to the plate with two outs and two on in a 1-1 game in the bottom of the fifth inning.

That might have been a bigger mistake than the beer can toss.

“I don’t take anything personal,” Schwarber said. “It’s a smart decision, I guess, not to face a righty, go after a lefty.”

Schwarber had already struck out and popped out in foul territory against southpaw Jose Quintana, so it’s not like Sox manager Robin Ventura was going against the odds. Except he hasn’t been around the Cubs' first-year player long enough to know you can’t keep him down for long. Schwarber finally admitted the intentional walk did creep into his head.

“It does get a little fire under you,” he said. “You have to throw those [first two at-bats] to the side and go on to the next at-bat and next pitch.”

By now, you know what happened because whatever can go right for the Cubs these days is going right. Schwarber lined a single to right to drive in Addison Russell, and the Cubs never looked back. It was a key moment in a sloppy game to that point. The hit changed the tone for the Cubs.

“When you’re playing with that kind of confidence, you feel like something good is going to happen,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Somehow, someway.”

Boy, are good things happening for the Cubs. They overcame two base-running blunders, a botched rundown and another pitcher-to-first base airmailed throw. This time, Jake Arrieta tossed one over Anthony Rizzo’s head one inning before he and Kris Bryant misconnected on a rundown of Avisail Garcia. Arrieta struck out the next two batters after the poor rundown, and his night changed as well.

“I was trying to do a little too much,” Arrieta said. “The only thing I’m stuck on is that throw [to first] in the second inning. That can’t happen.”

The throw meant nothing in the big picture as the Cubs' offense went to work making up for any early-game miscues. Four of the top five hitters had multiple hits in the game as they wore down the Sox bullpen by scoring single runs in the fifth and sixth while adding three more in the seventh to put the game away.

“We’re on a really good roll right now,” Arrieta said. “The next guy up is just looking to keep it going. Our lineup is getting us a lot of runs so we need to take advantage of it.”

Not even a beer can thrown at one their players can take the Cubs off their game right now. There was no anger in the locker room about it, just laughter. Why not? Winners of 15 of 16, the entire vibe of the team has changed seemingly overnight -- though the Cubs will tell you the grind of the first half led to this success.

“You have to ride that wave as long as you possibly can,” Maddon said.

As for that beer, Schwarber never touched it. He did his talking at the plate. Though he had just one hit, it changed the game. The opposition might think twice about walking the man in front of him. and fans might want to keep their beer for themselves.

“I guarantee you that whoever threw that beer doesn’t want no part of Kyle Schwarber,” Ross said. “I promise you that one.”