CHICAGO (AP) — Dioner Navarro’s first home run just cleared the basket at Wrigley Field and his second nearly hooked foul.
But the third?
There was no doubt about that one, and there’s no doubt about this, either: This was an unforgettable performance.
Navarro hit three home runs for the first time in his career, connecting from both sides of the plate Wednesday and leading the Chicago Cubs over the White Sox 9-3.
“It so surreal right now,” he said. “I can’t even speak right now.”
The last time he hit three home runs in a game?
“I hit two one time in Little League,” he said, smiling.
Navarro had never homered more than once in a major league game, but he sure got his swing going while driving in a career-high six runs and scoring four times. He became the first Cubs player to hit three homers in a game since Aramis Ramirez against Houston on July 20, 2010, at Wrigley and their first catcher to do it since George Mitterwald on April 17, 1974, against Pittsburgh.
The last Cubs switch-hitter to homer from the left and right sides in a game was Mark Bellhorn against Milwaukee on Aug. 29, 2002.
“It’s a pretty special day, something he’ll never forget,” manager Dale Sveum said.
Navarro began the day with three homers in 55 at-bats this season, and wound up doubling his homer total. He raised his batting average from .200 to .241 filling in for Welington Castillo as the Cubs won their third straight.
Despite all that, Sveum made one thing clear: He’s not changing catchers. He said Castillo will start on Thursday.
Navarro hit a solo homer just over the basket at the wall in left-center in the second to break a 1-all tie and added a two-run shot down the left-field line off John Danks (0-1) in the fourth, with both drives coming from the right side. He walked and scored in the sixth after his bat landed several rows beyond the Cubs dugout.
He got the bat back and delivered another big blow in the seventh, driving a towering shot to the street beyond the right-field bleachers for a three-run homer off Brian Omogrosso.
“That was awesome to watch,” Cubs starter Scott Feldman said. “Really just happy for him because he works so hard on all the other things — calling games, receiving, going over the scouting reports. It’s nice to see him rewarded with a day like that.”
By the time Navarro hit his third homer, Feldman was back in the trainer’s room getting his shoulder worked on. That didn’t stop him from “jumping around” on the table as the ball shot toward the street.
Clearly, he was thrilled for his teammate even if Navarro stole the spotlight from him.
Feldman (5-4) went six innings, allowing two runs and six hits. He struck out seven without a walk and improved to 5-1 in his past seven outings.
The strong performance by Feldman came after Jeff Samardzija threw a two-hitter in Monday’s 7-0 win at U.S. Cellular Field. The struggling Edwin Jackson was also sailing along on Tuesday before the game on the South Side was postponed because of rain with the Cubs up 2-0 in the third.
In his second start back from a season-ending shoulder injury, Danks lasted just four innings and allowed four runs and five hits. His most recent win was at Wrigley Field on May 19, 2012, which turned out to be his final start of the year. He had surgery in August to repair a capsule tear and remove debris in his rotator cuff and biceps.
“It’s still a process in getting back,” he said. “Like I said from the very beginning when I’m taking the mound out there it’s because I feel like I give us a chance to win. I’m not a guy that’s going to make any excuses, and today’s certainly not a day I’m going to make an excuse. I felt fine going into the game, just didn’t pitch well.”
The bullpen didn’t exactly bail him out. The offense struggled, too. Adam Dunn is now 1 for 25 in his last seven games after going 0 for 3, although he did have a sacrifice fly.
“(Danks) wasn’t the only one,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It was just one of those we’ve got to keep their catchers from hitting home runs. Not a good day, but it’s just one of those you’ve got to stick with it. Find a way to keep them in the yard.”
NOTES: Cubs reliever Kyuji Fujikawa will have Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right elbow and miss the rest of the season. No date has been set for the procedure. He said through a translator that he “felt something” on a pitch to Joey Votto during Sunday’s game against Cincinnati and was placed on the disabled list on Monday. … The White Sox will keep Chris Sale on his usual schedule and have him start Sunday rather than move him up a day. Sale pitched two innings on Tuesday before the game was called. … Ventura said 2B Gordon Beckham would play Thursday for Triple-A Charlotte and that he didn’t expect him to come back to Chicago until next Thursday. Beckham, who had surgery April 16 to repair a broken left hand, hasn’t played on his rehab assignment since last Thursday because of soreness. … Jake Peavy (6-2, 2.97 ERA) starts for the White Sox on Thursday, with Travis Wood (4-3, 2.73 ERA) pitching for the Cubs.