BOSTON -- It seemed like a long time ago that General Manager Jed Hoyer acknowledged the Cubs offense was "frustrating" and in need of improvement in several areas.
That actually occurred early Wednesday night, well before the Cubs unleashed a 19-hit attack that included a season-high four home runs and major contributions from Justin Ruggiano, Mike Olt and Darwin Barney to produce a 16-9 victory against the Red Sox to complete a three-game sweep at Fenway Park.
The final win took 4 hours, 19 minutes to complete, but the Cubs were satisfied they provided a relentless attack after scoring only two runs or fewer in each of their previous four games.
"For us to come in here and sweep the series, we know we have what it takes," Olt said after snapping an 0-for-13 slump with a home run and a double. "But it's a matter of actually executing and doing the job and giving us confidence before the All-Star break."
The Cubs earned their first interleague series sweep of three games or more since June 19-21, 2009, against the Cleveland Indians, as well as their first interleague road series sweep of at least three games since June 22-24, 2007, at U.S. Cellular Field against the Chicago White Sox.
Ruggiano drove in five runs and Barney had four hits.
The game was a great relief for Olt, who started in front of many family members and friends who drove from Connecticut to see him achieve his dream of hitting a home run over the Green Monster.
"It's something that I'll remember," Olt said after hitting his 11th homer and his first since June 14.
Before the game, Hoyer stressed the need for the offense to get contributions from the entire lineup and not rely too much on Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Luis Valbuena.
"It's a work in progress," Hoyer said. "Our young prospects are going to help with that. But at the same time, the Red Sox are seeing they got great young players in (Xander) Bogaerts, (Jackie) Bradley and (Mookie) Betts.
"It takes time to acclimate to the big leagues, and they're learning it right now, and we'll probably have that at some point. We'll probably have to find a way to bridge that and find some guys who can lengthen that lineup out. We're OK against left-handed pitching. But against right-handed pitching, in particular, we've struggled to lengthen the lineup out and score runs."
Hoyer also acknowledged the high strikeout rates of Olt (72) and Junior Lake (87) were a concern despite their power.
"But I think in the scoring system, strategic situations in the game, there are times where you've got to make contact," Hoyer said. "That's an area we have to improve, situational hitting. Strikeouts are part of the game, but ultimately you'll have to put the ball in play at the right time and push runs across.
"Those two guys have struggled to do that, but we're high on both guys. They have great futures, but that's part of the growing pain. They're going to have to put the ball in play in situations more often."
(c)2014 Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services