BALTIMORE -- If the Cubs are going to have a chance to defend their World Series championship, they're going to need a lot more offensive nights like Friday.
Chicago's bats, down across the board in 2017, came alive in the second-half opener. Four early home runs staked the Cubs to an eight-run lead, and after the Orioles chipped away, Addison Russell delivered the fifth and final blast to give Chicago a 9-8, rain-delayed win in Baltimore.
"We started off on the right foot -- this is a big one for us right there," Cubs designated hitter Kyle Schwarber said. "We faced a little adversity and we were able to come through and it's a great feeling."
The victory, which early on had the makings of a blowout, wasn't without some serious late-inning drama, as Chicago watched an eight-run lead shrink in the middle innings, finally disappearing completely with Mark Trumbo's two-run, eighth-inning homer off Koji Uehara.
But Russell's ninth-inning, one-out homer off Orioles reliever Brad Brach has the Cubs -- bolstered by the arrival of new starter Jose Quintana, who's slated to start Sunday -- inching back to .500 (44-45).
"Everybody pitched well, even Brad," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He had one ball he got over the plate and guy cheated on him and popped him, but what a great job by our guys to come back to tie that ballgame. It takes a lot for you to get there and then it's tough to get over the hump. We were hoping to get one more shutdown inning, but that's asking a lot of a bullpen. It really is."
"Yeah, it's frustrating. Obviously, I wanted to come out here and hit the ground running going into this second half," Gausman said. "It was just bad. I kind of became a two-pitch pitcher out there. When you're a starter trying to do that, some days you can get away with it. Most days you can't. It was just bad execution."
The O's offense had a valiant rallying effort, scoring five runs during Cubs starter Mike Montgomery's 4 1/3 innings and another pair off of reliever Justin Grimm.
With the score 8-6 in the bottom of the eighth, the drama unfolded as Trumbo's blast tied the game up and gave Baltimore momentum for the first time all night.
The Cubs' bullpen had been a strength in the first half, but manager Joe Maddon blamed the layoff during the All-Star break for the relievers' struggles.
"It would've been very difficult to lose that game, I will not deny that, but we didn't; we won it," Maddon said. "You take a break, you play catch a little bit, and they've been throwing a lot in the first half. It's one of those catch-22 moments. We got through it."
The Orioles' mojo was short-lived, however, as Russell clobbered Brach's first pitch for his eighth homer of the year and Cubs closer Wade Davis had a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his 17th save.
"The biggest thing for me is to make sure I see the pitch, track it and get a good swing on it," Russell said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Trumbo ties it up: After All-Star second baseman Jonathan Schoop hit a blooper to right just out of Heyward's reach, Trumbo made Uehara pay. The one-out, two-run blast into the left-field seats completed the O's turnaround and marked his 15th of the year.
"The problem is, you have to do a lot," Trumbo said, of being in a big hole early. "You get three or four runs, and you still have to double it to get back in some of these games. It really tests the willpower a little bit."
Contreras' crush job: The Cubs wasted no time jumping on Gausman, setting the tone early with Contreras' three-run blast. The homer, followed by Schwarber's solo shot, gave Chicago the cushion to weather some pitching issues, and put the hot-hitting Contreras at 44 RBIs on the year.
"We need to play good baseball, obviously win, but show some of the signs of life that we did tonight. We did everything we could for it to go our way, but they just did a little bit better." -- Trumbo, on what the Orioles have to do to stay in postseason contention
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Heyward's third-inning homer landed out on Eutaw Street, the 92nd time that's happened in Camden Yards history (52nd by an opponent). It was the first Eutaw Street homer for Heyward.
WHAT'S NEXT Cubs:Jake Arrieta will make his second career start against his former team and first since Aug. 22, 2014, when he takes the mound on Saturday. Arrieta pitched 3 1/2 seasons with the Orioles before he was traded to the Cubs in 2013. He's had an inconsistent first half as evidenced by his last two starts. On July 2, he held the Reds to one hit over seven scoreless innings. He followed that on July 8 by allowing three earned runs on six hits over 5 2/3 innings against the Pirates. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT.
Orioles: The Orioles will send Wade Miley to the mound for Saturday's game against the Cubs. Miley ended the first half of the season on a positive note against the Twins. He finished one out shy of his first quality start since June 1, as he allowed one run off eight hits.