CHICAGO -- If the Cubs need a spark, Willson Contreras is the player to provide it, although someday manager Joe Maddon expects it to be more comparable to embers than a five-alarm blaze.
Contreras delivered a pinch-hit two-run double in a four-run sixth inning to lift the Cubs to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the Phillies on Wednesday. After some adventurous baserunning, he then scored what turned out to be a much-needed insurance run on pinch-hitter Matthew Szczur's single.
• Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for Contreras and other #ASGWorthy players
The Cubs trailed, 3-1, in the sixth, and Jason Heyward hit an opposite-field RBI single to chase starter Jerad Eickhoff. Joely Rodriguez took over, and his second pitch got away from catcher Andrew Knapp for a passed ball, allowing both Cubs baserunners to advance. Contreras greeted Rodriguez with a double to left, driving in two, and opening a 4-3 lead.
Rodriguez was replaced by Edubray Ramos, and Szczur smacked an RBI single to score Contreras, who had to dodge a tag at the plate by Knapp.
"Willson is savvy enough to know a ball hit up the middle like that to the shortstop's left, he was anticipating a throw to first base and he continued to come around," Maddon said. "We got lucky -- that ball hit right on the back of the mound."
Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis made the throw home.
"You have to make sure he was going to home plate, and [once] I was sure he was going to home plate, I just threw it to home plate and bounced it right [off] the mound," Galvis said.
Was he surprised Contreras was running?
"Actually, it was a smart play for him, because it was a ground ball to the middle -- maybe he thinks I'm going to first base, because there's a speedy guy going to first base and most times with two outs, they're going to keep running," Galvis said. "I think he ran the bases kind of smart, and I anticipated for that, too. I just threw it to home plate and bounced it into the mound and he was safe."
And if the throw didn't hit the mound, did Galvis think he could've thrown out Contreras?
"Maybe," Galvis said. "Ninety-five percent, 99 percent. But it hit the mound."
Contreras took his cue from third-base coach Gary Jones.
"By the time I was going to home plate, I saw the catcher going for the baseball and I tried to get around the base, and I did," Contreras said.
Contreras was promoted from Triple-A Iowa in June last year, and eased into the role as the regular catcher. This year, it's his job, but he did not start against Eickhoff.
"You plug into this guy," Maddon said of Contreras. "He plays with his hair on fire. It can actually work against him. He gets a little over-assertive. As he learns to play with his hair on fire -- and not absolutely a forest fire, but slightly a burning bush -- he's going to learn how to control that."
Contreras has a lot of energy.
"I don't know how to play, like, calm," he said. "I have to get my heat going on and I'll be a better player."