Panik homers as Giants beat Lackey, Cubs 6-4

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CHICAGO, IL - MAY 22: Eduardo Nunez #10 of the San Francisco Giants scores ahead of the throw to catcher Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs during the fourth inning on May 20, 2017 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

CHICAGO — Joe Panik hit his first career leadoff homer and doubled twice, helping the San Francisco Giants beat the Chicago Cubs 6-4 on Monday night.

Brandon Belt also connected and Ty Blach pitched into the eighth inning in the first meeting between the teams since San Francisco was eliminated by Chicago in the NL Division Series last year. Panik, Belt and Justin Ruggiano each had two RBIs as the streaking Giants won for the eighth time in 10 games.

Ruggiano’s leadoff drive in the eighth made it 6-0 and gave San Francisco 18 straight solo homers, just three away from matching its major league record of 21 from 2011.

The Cubs responded with four in the bottom half on two-run homers by Javier Baez and Ben Zobrist. But the rally stalled from there.

With one out and runners on first and second, Hunter Strickland got Willson Contreras to bounce into an inning-ending double play. Mark Melancon then worked the ninth for his ninth save in 11 chances.

Baez had three hits for the Cubs, who were coming off a 13-6 victory against Milwaukee on Sunday. He singled with two out in the ninth before rookie Ian Happ struck out swinging to end the game.

John Lackey (4-4) pitched five shaky innings in his first loss in a month, allowing five runs and seven hits. The right-hander was 3-0 with a 3.86 ERA over his previous four starts.

Lackey looked off right from the start, with Panik driving his sixth pitch into the bleachers in left-center for his second homer of the year. The Giants followed with two more hard-hit balls, but Lackey got bailed out by two outstanding defensive plays.

First, shortstop Addison Russell robbed Christian Arroyo of a hit with a diving stop and a strong throw to first. Then Albert Almora Jr. reached over his head for a terrific leaping catch on Belt’s drive to center.

But the Giants opened a 5-0 lead by scoring in each of Lackey’s last three innings. Panik hit an RBI double and scored on Belt’s single in the third. Ruggiano added an RBI double in the fourth, and Belt hit a drive to left in the fifth for his ninth homer.

Blach (2-2) was pulled after the first three batters reached in the eighth. He was charged with three runs and eight hits in his second straight win.