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What could happen in NL Central at Deadline

MLB.com

The All-Star Game has come and gone, and the non-waiver Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away. Until July 31, much of the talk in baseball will be focused around buyers and sellers, blockbuster moves and small deals and an endless buzz of trade rumors.

The National League Central might be one of the most intriguing divisions over the next 12 days. The Cubs have climbed back into first place, and they have by far the NL's best run differential. After an aggressive offseason, the Brewers' recent skid has given them more reason to make another big splash. The Cardinals ousted manager Mike Matheny, but will they shake up their roster?

The All-Star Game has come and gone, and the non-waiver Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away. Until July 31, much of the talk in baseball will be focused around buyers and sellers, blockbuster moves and small deals and an endless buzz of trade rumors.

The National League Central might be one of the most intriguing divisions over the next 12 days. The Cubs have climbed back into first place, and they have by far the NL's best run differential. After an aggressive offseason, the Brewers' recent skid has given them more reason to make another big splash. The Cardinals ousted manager Mike Matheny, but will they shake up their roster?

The Pirates are in a different place than they were two weeks ago, now standing within one game of .500 and 5 1/2 games back in the race for the second NL Wild Card spot. The Reds are 40-38 under interim manager Jim Riggleman, so perhaps they'll be more inclined to hang on to players previously presumed to be trade candidates.

This week, MLB.com spoke with scouts and executives to see what they think will happen in the NL Central.

CUBS
What they need to do: The Cubs will look for rotation depth, an NL executive suggested, especially if they don't think Yu Darvish is close to helping them. An NL scout noted the Cubs need more consistency from their rotation, so they should pursue a starter. That lines up with what Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer recently said about the Cubs' search for pitching. With no other glaring needs, an NL executive said, they'll likely be in the market for another back-end bullpen arm.

What they can get: The Cubs don't have a particularly strong system, one NL official pointed out, so they may not be in position to make a big move. An NL scout said their Major League depth theoretically frees them up to move someone like Ian Happ or Mike Montgomery, who might start for another club, if they wanted to pursue a bigger acquisition. They don't have a representative on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, and they moved their best trade chips to get Aroldis Chapman (2016) and Jose Quintana ('17). That likely took them out of the Machado market, though several officials thought their interest in Machado was cursory at best, given the high-end talent they already have in the infield.

Video: The MLB Tonight crew discuss the Brewers' needs

BREWERS
What they need to do: One NL executive said the Brewers need pitching, both in their rotation and bullpen, along with help in the middle infield. The executive expected Milwaukee to pursue a contractually controllable starting pitcher and at least one infield upgrade. The Brewers have been relying on Tyler Saladino, Jonathan Villar, Brad Miller and Hernan Perez up the middle. An NL scout took it a step further, saying the Brewers "must" get a starter and prioritize that over a shortstop.

What they can get: An NL official said the Brewers had the necessary pieces to acquire All-Star shortstop Manny Machado, who was dealt to the Dodgers on Wednesday, even if they didn't complete the trade. The fact that they pursued Machado, the consensus top player available before the Trade Deadline, puts them in play for just about anyone. One NL scout said the Crew has the prospects and depth in their farm system to get a "high-end starter." They've also been linked to infielders Whit Merrifield, Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar, among others, and a number of starters, including rental lefty J.A. Happ.

CARDINALS
What they need to do: Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak recently said the club's next move was "TBD," so their direction is unclear. The Cards have underperformed, leading one NL scout to say they simply need their roster to play better. The scout said their hitters and starters are good enough to win, but they lack depth in the bullpen. Their biggest concern, the scout said, remains in the dugout following Matheny's dismissal.

Video: Cards dismiss manager Matheny, hitting coach Mabry

What they can get: Bullpen help is never in short supply this time of year, so one scout suggested they look to "the usual suspect teams" to shore up their relief corps. The Mets, Orioles, White Sox, Marlins, Blue Jays and Padres, among others, should have veteran relief help available. Lefty relievers like Zach Duke (a former Cardinal), Luis Avilan and Jake Diekman may be of some appeal.

PIRATES
What they need to do: Some in the industry believe the Pirates might be better off taking part in a multi-year rebuild, but the Bucs have said they intend to be competitive this year, and next. In that case, an NL executive said, they can't trade core players like Starling Marte and Jameson Taillon. One NL scout figured that predicament, along with their recent surge, will lead them to wait until closer to July 31 to take any action. If they're still toward the back of the Wild Card race, the scout said, they won't be "big-time buyers." If they've fallen completely out of the mix, they can move veterans, then use the rest of the season to evaluate their young talent -- including prospects like Austin Meadows, Kevin Newman, Kevin Kramer and Clay Holmes -- and determine who they can build around going forward.

What they can get: One NL scout figured closer Felipe Vazquez would bring in a haul of young talent, given the demand for young, controllable relievers, but Vazquez is the kind of core player the Pirates won't move if they want to contend next season. Their most likely trade candidates are left fielder Corey Dickerson, catcher Francisco Cervelli (if healthy), starter Ivan Nova and infielders Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer and David Freese. One scout figured Dickerson could bring in at least one organizational top-10-caliber prospect, and thought there would be interest in Harrison, Mercer and Freese as utility/role/bench players. Cervelli's concussions complicate his future, and while Nova is a reliable veteran, he isn't the kind of front-line arm most contenders are looking for this time of year.

REDS
What they need to do: The Reds' recent run has inspired some confidence in Cincinnati, and one NL executive pointed out that they have a lineup that could contend, as long as it's led by Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez. However, one NL scout said the Reds need to capitalize on their short-term assets and sell. The scout said Cincinnati could flip Matt Harvey to a contender and get back as much talent as possible, then market Billy Hamilton as a fourth outfielder who could change games with his speed and defense.

What they can get: One NL scout noted that this deadline will shed light on their overall plan. If they think they can contend as soon as next year, it might make sense to keep Gennett, closer Raisel Iglesias and reliever Jared Hughes. The scout credited Cincinnati as having a strong core of position players and "a chance to have a good 'pen if they stay where they are." One scout thought they could swap Hamilton, at least, to land some young pitching prospects to eventually bolster their unproven rotation.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals

Cubs unlikely to make splash but could add arm

Return of injured pitchers will boost staff; Chicago looking at Eovaldi, Hand
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Cubs head into the second half of the season on a roll, boasting the best record in the National League despite not having two of their biggest offseason free-agent signings contributing as expected.

Yu Darvish, who signed a six-year deal in February, has been limited to eight starts because of injuries, while Tyler Chatwood, who signed a three-year deal, leads the Major Leagues in walks. Manager Joe Maddon predicted this year's rotation would be the best he's had in Chicago, but Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana also have not performed as expected.

CHICAGO -- The Cubs head into the second half of the season on a roll, boasting the best record in the National League despite not having two of their biggest offseason free-agent signings contributing as expected.

Yu Darvish, who signed a six-year deal in February, has been limited to eight starts because of injuries, while Tyler Chatwood, who signed a three-year deal, leads the Major Leagues in walks. Manager Joe Maddon predicted this year's rotation would be the best he's had in Chicago, but Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana also have not performed as expected.

"To be here without the benefit of the pitching like I thought it would be is pretty phenomenal," Maddon said of the Cubs' 55-38 record and 2 1/2-game lead in the Central.

Plus, Anthony Rizzo was batting .246 at the break while Kris Bryant has been sidelined with a shoulder injury and has 10 home runs and 40 RBIs. Maddon is hoping Bryzzo and the pitchers have a strong second half and get Chicago to the postseason for the fourth straight year, something the Cubs franchise has never done.

Current status: Buyer
Don't look for the Cubs to make a blockbuster move at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline as they did in 2016 to get Aroldis Chapman. They will actually "acquire" a starter when Darvish returns from the disabled list, just as they got a left-handed reliever back when Brian Duensing was activated on Friday. The bullpen also will get a boost when lefty Mike Montgomery, who has been subbing for Darvish, shifts to a relief role. Drew Smyly, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, could provide an extra arm in September. Said Maddon on Smyly: "This guy could be very helpful."

Video: LAD@CHC: Montgomery tosses 6 innings of 1-run ball

What they are seeking
Pitching, pitching and more pitching. Even though youngsters like Luke Farrell, Randy Rosario, Justin Hancock and James Norwood have done well, there's a lack of depth in the organization and the Cubs like to stockpile arms. They've had scouts watching the Rays' Nathan Eovaldi, who could be a low-cost option, and there are reports that they're looking at the Padres' Brad Hand and the Orioles' Zach Britton. The Cubs may not need to go outside of the organization for help on the bench. David Bote has impressed every time he's been promoted from Triple-A Iowa. Remember Chris Coghlan? The 33-year-old left-handed-hitting outfielder is playing now at Iowa as he tries to come back from a shoulder injury.

Video: Brad Hand a solid option to rack up saves

What they have to offer
The Cubs don't have Eloy Jimenez or Gleyber Torres as possible trade bait anymore, but they do have talent in the lower levels in the Minor Leagues. Jimenez was dealt to the White Sox last year for Quintana while Torres was traded to the Yankees for Chapman.

Possible scenario
The Cubs don't have an opening regarding position players -- Maddon actually has a tough time sharing at-bats among the players. If they could swing a deal for someone like Eovaldi, that would give the pitching a boost. Said Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein: "I don't think this is the year we're going to be out front beating the market, but I do think industry-wide there will be a lot of activity well before the Deadline."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs

Contreras, Baez leave mark on All-Star Game

Catcher homers, infielder singles -- both on first pitch they saw
MLB.com

Willson Contreras cried when he found out he was starting Tuesday night's All-Star Game presented by Mastercard in Washington, D.C. Javier Baez had the opposite reaction when he got the good news -- he laughed.

Different reactions aside, it was a night of firsts as the two Cubs made their Midsummer Classic debuts.

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Willson Contreras cried when he found out he was starting Tuesday night's All-Star Game presented by Mastercard in Washington, D.C. Javier Baez had the opposite reaction when he got the good news -- he laughed.

Different reactions aside, it was a night of firsts as the two Cubs made their Midsummer Classic debuts.

View Full Game Coverage

The emotions of Contreras' first All-Star Game didn't overwhelm him too much. Leading off the third inning, the Cubs' catcher hammered a solo home run 108.8 mph over the left-field fence at Nationals Park for the National League's first run in its 8-6 loss to the American League.

"Hitting that ball was something special for me and my family -- they're here -- and for the fans," Contreras said. "I'd do anything for the fans, and this was for the fans in Chicago."

The 97.8-mph, middle-cut fastball from Rays lefty Blake Snell was the hardest pitch Contreras, 26, has hit for a homer in his career, according to Statcast™.

Contreras became the 19th player in history to go yard in his first All-Star Game at-bat. George Altman is the only other Cubs player to do so, in 1961, and Eric Hosmer did it most recently, in 2016. No other Cubs catcher has homered in the Midsummer Classic.

"I'm really blessed [to be] in these types of situations," Contreras said. "It's going to be in history and in my mind and my heart."

Video: 2018 ASG: Baez singles after saluting Sale

Before Contreras provided the NL's first run, it was Baez who recorded the team's first hit. Of course, both players did their damage on the first pitch they saw.

Stepping into the batter's box to lead off the bottom of the first, Baez leaned forward, lifted his hand to his helmet and saluted American League starter Chris Sale.

"He throws hard," Baez, 25, said of Sale in an on-field interview on the FOX broadcast just moments before his at-bat. "Just got to hit the fastball. Let's see what I got on his fastball."

Simple enough, right? Not so much, though Baez couldn't have made it look much easier.

The Cubs' second baseman followed up his gesture like only "El Mago" can: He swung at Sale's first pitch, a 99.4-mph fastball off the plate inside, and roped it into center field.

Video: 2018 ASG: Baez on facing Sale in the All-Star Game

Contreras batted ninth for the NL and was behind the plate for all of Max Scherzer's grunt-inducing heaters and nasty breaking balls. He caught the first five innings and went 1-for-2. Baez also was replaced after the fifth inning, going 1-for-3 in the contest.

The Cubs' third All-Star, veteran starter Jon Lester, was unavailable for the game after pitching against the Padres on Sunday.

"The big thing for me is watching these two knuckleheads over here have fun," Lester, 34, said on Monday. "You see the flair they play the game with and the ease that they play the game with, and that kind of oozes energy."

Contreras and Baez displayed that same youthful exuberance on Tuesday that has defined them early in their careers. Recognizing the significance of starting an All-Star Game, though, gave them additional perspectives that they won't soon forget.

Video: 2018 ASG: Contreras crushes 108.8-MPH homer off Snell

"I wanted to enjoy my moment," Contreras said. "You don't hit homers every day, especially in this kind of All-Star Game. When I realized I was by third base, I was like 'Slow down,' I looked at the dugout. That's why I started slowing down. I started to enjoy it."

As he jogged toward the plate, Contreras clapped and looked to the sky, a gesture that he said was a nod to his late grandfather, who passed away in 2015.

"I feel like every time I go out there and step out of the box, he's at my back," Contreras said. "It feels amazing when you hit a homer or do something special, you look at the sky and you know he's there."

Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago Cubs, Willson Contreras

Edwards, Almora set to rejoin Cubs

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Cubs will open the second half of the season with reliever Carl Edwards Jr. and outfielder Albert Almora Jr. back on the roster.

Edwards was activated from paternity leave on Tuesday, while Almora, who had returned to Chicago last Saturday to attend to a family matter, is expected back on Thursday night when the Cubs face the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

CHICAGO -- The Cubs will open the second half of the season with reliever Carl Edwards Jr. and outfielder Albert Almora Jr. back on the roster.

Edwards was activated from paternity leave on Tuesday, while Almora, who had returned to Chicago last Saturday to attend to a family matter, is expected back on Thursday night when the Cubs face the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

Video: DET@CHC: Almora Jr. plates La Stella with a double

Infielder David Bote and reliever Rob Zastryzny were both optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday. Bote was called up on Sunday in San Diego and went 1-for-2 with a walk, hitting a double. He has compiled a .310 average in 20 games for the Cubs this season. Zastryzny has appeared in six games for the Cubs this season, giving up three runs over 5 2/3 innings.

Anthony Bass, who has been on the disabled list with an illness since July 5, threw one inning in relief for Triple-A Iowa against Memphis on Tuesday night and struck out one. Bass has been an integral part of the Cubs' bullpen this season, giving up one earned run over 14 1/3 innings in 14 appearances.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Carl Edwards Jr., Albert Almora Jr.

Kyle Schwarber hit a buzzer-beater HR to beat Rhys Hoskins in Round 2 of the Derby and hurled his bat

In the second round of the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, Kyle Schwarber was up against Rhys Hoskins, who smashed an impressive 20 dingers in his time at the plate. The barrel-shaped Cubs slugger started slow and things weren't looking good. 

But then, Schwarber caught fire and began launching baseballs with some seriously impressive hang time and distance. Quickly, the gap disappeared. After hitting multiple home runs over 440 feet, the left-handed hitter earned 30 extra seconds to try to defeat the Phillies hitter in a bonus round. 

Derby duo Baez, Schwarber slug Cubs to rout

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Kyle Schwarber and All-Star Javier Baez look like they're ready for the T-Mobile Home Run Derby.

Schwarber hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning and Baez drove in five runs, including three on a home run in the ninth, to power the Cubs to an 11-6 come-from-behind victory over the Padres at Petco Park on Saturday night and open a 1 1/2-game lead in the Central Division.

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SAN DIEGO -- Kyle Schwarber and All-Star Javier Baez look like they're ready for the T-Mobile Home Run Derby.

Schwarber hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning and Baez drove in five runs, including three on a home run in the ninth, to power the Cubs to an 11-6 come-from-behind victory over the Padres at Petco Park on Saturday night and open a 1 1/2-game lead in the Central Division.

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"You saw a pretty big power swing by Javy and that's a little taste of what you guys will be getting for the Derby," Schwarber said. "It's going to be fun."

Video: CHC@SD: Schwarber hits 2-run homer to opposite field

Baez, who also hit a two-run double in the fifth, matched a season-high with five RBIs. He'll start at second base for the National League team on Tuesday night at Nationals Park and now has 20 extra-base hits and 25 RBIs over his last 22 games. For the season, he has 71 RBIs, just four shy of his career high of 75 set last year.

"We're running out of [superlatives]," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Baez. "I like the way he's going about his business. He's playing the game right, playing the game hard, playing the game smartly. He's just playing the game of baseball. I don't think he has an analytical bone in his body. … He's absolutely fun to watch."

Video: CHC@SD: Maddon on Baez's evolution as a hitter in win

Baez wasn't feeling well before the game but the Cubs were without Albert Almora Jr., who left the team to attend to a family matter.

"He sucks it up and goes out there and has that day he had," Schwarber said of Baez. "It's classic Javy. He's a grinder. People see the flash, and people see the style. Here, we see the toughness and the grit and that's something he brings to all of us."

Kyle Hendricks served up a two-run homer to Eric Hosmer in the Padres' first and held on for the win, his second in his last nine starts. This was the Cubs' 11th win in their last 14 games and also their 30th come-from-behind win this season.

Prior to the game, Maddon delivered his second team meeting of the year to give the players something to think about during the All-Star break.

"I was able to talk about things with this group," Maddon said. "They're seeking a different kind of message. It's not, 'Let's go boys, let's win one for the Gipper, let's play hard.' They're a little more intellectually oriented."

Maddon didn't just repeat his message from Spring Training, when he held his first team meeting of the year.

"The big thing was to emphasize the heartbeat over analytics and just play good baseball and not worry about what the numerical world is saying," he said.

What does that mean?

"Analytically, everybody likes walks but if the guy is able to drive in 60-some runs, hit near .300, have almost 20 homers, steal bases, score from first base on wild pitches, play all over defensively and make plays nobody has seen before, I think analytical types can accept that, too," Maddon said.

Whom was he talking about? Baez, of course.

With the win, the Cubs are assured of being in first place at the All-Star break. Last year, they trailed the Brewers by 5 1/2 games.

"It's good to be at the top," Hendricks said. "The Brewers are a great team behind us. There's no days off in the second half. We have to play the same baseball we've been playing."

Video: CHC@SD: Schwarber, Baez discuss Cubs' 11-6 win

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Dingers: About five hours before first pitch, Schwarber was working on his home run swing to prepare for the Home Run Derby. All the extra batting practice paid off in the fourth when he connected on a 3-1 fastball from starter Luis Perdomo with a man on, giving the Cubs a 3-2 lead.

"I've been feeling pretty decent at the plate and trying to take good swings at balls and not try to do too much with the ball," Schwarber said.

Video: Home Run Derby Matchup: Bregman vs. Schwarber

Upon further review: The Cubs had a runner at first and one out in the fifth when Jason Heyward lined the ball to left for a single. Heyward tried to stretch his hit and did a swim move to avoid the tag. However, he was called out. The Cubs challenged the ruling and after a review, it was overturned. Baez followed with a two-run double for a 5-2 lead, chasing Perdomo.

Did Baez teach Heyward that move?

"They ask me all the time how I do that," Baez said. "I don't know if you can teach it. When you slide, you have to keep your head up and see where's the glove, where's the tag, when they're going to tag you. It comes in my mind really fast at that moment."

Video: CHC@SD: Baez plates a pair on a double into the gap

SOUND SMART
Ian Happ's leadoff home run in the Cubs' second inning was the 2,000th home run hit at Petco Park, visitors and Padres combined. Happ, by the way, is batting .368 with 14 walks and a .493 OBP in his last 19 games.

Video: CHC@SD: Happ slugs solo homer to straightaway center

HE SAID IT
"I don't have tomorrow in my mind, to be honest. I don't know what's going to happen. I think for me, working, getting my body to where I need it to be ready for the game is the most important thing to me." -- Baez, on whether he thought this might be a special season for him

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
With a runner at first and one out in the Cubs' fifth, Heyward lined a single to left. Heyward tried to stretch his hit for a double but was called out at second base on a 7-4 relay. The Cubs challenged the ruling and after a review, the call was overturned.

Video: CHC@SD: Heyward reaches second safely after review

UP NEXT
All-Star Jon Lester will close the first half of the season on Sunday in the series finale. The lefty did not get a decision in his last outing against the Reds, giving up four runs over 6 1/3 innings. Lester will miss pitching at Wrigley Field, where he's 5-1 with a 1.98 ERA. Named to his fifth All-Star team, Lester will head to Washington, D.C., for Tuesday's game but will not pitch. On Sunday, the Padres will counter with lefty Eric Lauer. First pitch from Petco Park was scheduled for 3:10 p.m. CT.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber

Javy hustles, scores on E-ticket ride in 10th

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Javier Baez did it again.

With one out in the 10th inning, Baez stole second, then took advantage of two errors by the Padres to score the go-ahead run and lift the Cubs to a 5-4 victory over the Padres on Friday night at Petco Park.

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SAN DIEGO -- Javier Baez did it again.

With one out in the 10th inning, Baez stole second, then took advantage of two errors by the Padres to score the go-ahead run and lift the Cubs to a 5-4 victory over the Padres on Friday night at Petco Park.

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"At this point, it's really not even surprising to us, and it's crazy to say that," Chicago's Anthony Rizzo said of Baez's daredevil baserunning. "It's fun. His instincts, his baseball instincts, are taking over the whole game and people are noticing it more than ever. That's who he is, and he continues to keep getting better."

Video: CHC@SD: Baez scores after steal for lead in the 10th

Rizzo had tied the game against Padres closer Brad Hand with an RBI double with two outs in the ninth, as the Cubs played their third extra-inning game in the last four. In the 10th, Baez reached on an infield single and appeared to be limping. No big deal.

Video: CHC@SD: Rizzo ties the game in the 9th

"Getting out of the box, I kind of slipped a little bit," Baez said. "I was trying to hustle there to get the base hit. As soon as I hit it, I thought it was going to be foul and I rushed a little out of the box. Everything's good."

Yes it was. The All-Star second baseman stole second, ran to third on an errant throw by catcher Austin Hedges and scored when center fielder Manuel Margot bobbled the ball.

"[Margot] is looking up to see if he's got a shot at Baez at third base instead of looking the ball all the way into the glove," Padres manager Andy Green said. "There's no other way I could describe it."

When Baez is on base, opponents have to pay attention.

"Billy Hamilton gets on first base and the pitcher is thinking about him stealing, and they leave a pitch down the middle," Rizzo said. "[Baez] is a game-changer. He's a game-changer offensively, defensively and on the bases. He does it all."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon never really knows what to expect from Baez.

"I try to stay out of his way," Maddon said.

Video: CHC@SD: Maddon on extra-inning win over Padres

It was another comeback win for the Cubs, who trailed 4-3 after Hedges' RBI single off Carl Edwards Jr. in the eighth. Edwards had been tough since coming off the disabled list, striking out eight of the 10 batters he had faced. But Margot doubled off the right-hander with two outs in the eighth and tallied on Hedges' single.

The Cubs overloaded the lineup with right-handed hitters against Padres lefty Clayton Richard with the exception of Rizzo, who led off for the second time this season. Rizzo ended an 0-for-21 stretch with a one-out single in the fifth. He'll lead off again Saturday.

"Give him credit, man," Maddon said of Rizzo. "He's been grinding very, very hard. Javy did his Javy thing again. Pretty impressive."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Clutch hit: Rizzo's RBI double off Hand tied the game at 4 and gave him three hits in the game. With two outs in the ninth, Hand hit pinch-hitter Victor Caratini with a pitch to set up Rizzo.

"That [hit-by-pitch] is a tough one right there," Green said. "You don't want to do that. [Hand] doesn't want to do that. Then the Rizzo at-bat is just a grind at-bat between two All-Star-caliber players."

Video: CHC@SD: Green on tough loss, facing Cubs bullpen

WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
Chicago starter Tyler Chatwood did not get a decision, but did add to his Major League-leading walk total by issuing three free passes. He's now walked 73 over 84 innings. Chatwood served up five hits, including a two-run homer to Travis Jankowski with two outs in the second. The right-hander was lifted after five innings and has gone 12 straight starts without completing six innings, the longest streak for a Cubs pitcher in the live-ball era.

"I haven't been good," Chatwood said about his first half. "There've been spots when I've been good, but I haven't been consistent like I know I can be. We've won a lot of games I've started, so that's a positive. [The All-Star break] is kind of a reset and a chance to get away from it and get back to work. It'll be fun."

Video: CHC@SD: Chatwood fans Hosmer in the 3rd 

HE SAID IT
"We're in a much better position than we were last year at the same time. We've done better overall, in regard to our hitting approach. Our starting pitching has to ascend. There's still things we have to work through. Of course, I'd like to be -- you always want to be in first place. … [The Brewers] have been playing well and they're tough. I like the way we're trending. There aren't a whole lot of tired guys out there." -- Maddon, on the Cubs (53-38), who are in first place in the Central Division, just percentage points ahead of Milwaukee (55-40)

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Jankowski was called out on a grounder to shortstop Addison Russell to lead off the Padres' first inning, but San Diego challenged the ruling and after a review, it was overturned and Jankowski was safe.

Video: CHC@SD: Jankowski hits infield single after review

Baez thought he had hit his 19th home run when he led off the Cubs' second with a fly ball to right, but a fan deflected the ball back onto the field. After a crew-chief review, the call was fan interference and Baez was credited with a double. He eventually scored as the Cubs loaded the bases on walks to Russell and Ben Zobrist with one out and Ian Happ followed with a two-run single.

"It looked to me on that big [video] screen that maybe the [fans'] hands were above the rail and behind," Maddon said of the Baez play. "[The umpires] came back with that. I can't argue that. I can't argue because I can't argue, but also I couldn't tell."

Video: CHC@SD: Baez hits a double after call overturned

UP NEXT
Kyle Hendricks will make his final start of the first half on Saturday. The right-hander is 0-2 in his last four starts and is coming off a solid outing against the Giants in which he gave up one unearned run over 8 1/3 innings, his longest outing of the season. Hendricks is 3-1 with a 2.50 ERA in six career starts against the Padres, including a complete game shutout on May 21, 2015. The Padres will counter with Luis Perdomo, who will be making his third career appearance against the Cubs. First pitch was scheduled for 9:10 p.m. CT from Petco Park.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Tyler Chatwood

Hitting leadoff helps nudge Rizzo out of slump

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Last year, Anthony Rizzo jokingly proclaimed himself to be the greatest leadoff hitter of all time after a strong showing at the top of the Cubs' lineup. On Friday night, he was batting first, but this time as a hitter trying to get back on track. It worked.

Rizzo collected three hits, including a clutch game-tying RBI double with two outs in the ninth inning, to help propel the Cubs to a 5-4, 10-inning victory over the Padres at Petco Park.

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SAN DIEGO -- Last year, Anthony Rizzo jokingly proclaimed himself to be the greatest leadoff hitter of all time after a strong showing at the top of the Cubs' lineup. On Friday night, he was batting first, but this time as a hitter trying to get back on track. It worked.

Rizzo collected three hits, including a clutch game-tying RBI double with two outs in the ninth inning, to help propel the Cubs to a 5-4, 10-inning victory over the Padres at Petco Park.

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Manager Joe Maddon inserted Rizzo into the leadoff spot against lefty Clayton Richard to give the first baseman "a different mindset."

"Why not?" Maddon said. "He's been struggling a bit. Clayton Richard kills lefties and throws only ground balls, so it made all the sense in the world. Just get him out of the way and get all the righties up there.

"[Rizzo will] tell you he's the greatest of all time," Maddon said. "Let him get up there and have a good time and see what happens."

Video: CHC@SD: Maddon on extra-inning win over Padres

"I'll do anything right now," Rizzo said. "He's just trying to get me going some way, somehow."

Rizzo faced a defensive shift in his first at-bat and grounded out to third baseman Christian Villanueva who was stationed on the first-base side of second. He grounded out to Richard to end the second and then ended an 0-for-21 stretch with a one-out single in the fifth. Against Padres right-hander Phil Maton in the seventh, Rizzo doubled.

His biggest at-bat came in the ninth against Padres closer Brad Hand.

"Hand, he's got the sinker and he runs it away from you," Rizzo said. "I was able to put a good swing on him. I had a good at-bat the at-bat before. Hand, he's one of the best in the biz. I was lucky enough -- he left a slider up just a tick."

Rizzo got ahead, 2-0 in the count, but the Padres' closer battled back to a full count. He connected on a slider.

"After his second at-bat, they became really aggressively better at-bats -- right-center gap, left-field corner, left-center-field gap, not just trying to pull the ball," Maddon said of Rizzo's progression during the game. "That was the secret to the whole thing. Give him credit, man. He's been grinding very, very hard."

Javier Baez scored the game-winner in the Cubs 10th when he singled, stole second, then reached third on an error and scored on another miscue.

Video: Must C Clutch: Rizzo, Baez's late heroics rescue Cubs

Rizzo will ilkely sleep a little better Friday night. He'll be leading off again Saturday.

"I'm fighting myself a lot at the plate," Rizzo said. "It's been a grind. One swing feels good, one time it doesn't. I'm not usually the most mechanical person, but something is in there that isn't firing the right way. We're trying to work on it every day.

"I just have to keep playing and hit some balls where they're not standing," he said.

That would mean trying to avoid the overload of defenders on shifts. The good news is that Rizzo isn't striking out a lot during this stretch.

"I get my pitch, and I can't miss it," he said. "I have to put a good swing on it. It's the love-hate relationship of baseball."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Anthony Rizzo

Predicting Deadline strategies in NL Central

How deals in recent past could foretell moves this month
MLB.com

We spend a lot of time and effort at this time of year looking ahead to what teams might do as the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches. But perhaps a different approach is in order.

• Catch up on the latest Trade Talk

We spend a lot of time and effort at this time of year looking ahead to what teams might do as the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches. But perhaps a different approach is in order.

• Catch up on the latest Trade Talk

This week, MLB.com is taking a look back at a recent significant trade for each National League Central club, with an eye toward gleaning some insight regarding the 2018 trading season.

BREWERS
The deal: Acquired Christian Yelich from the Marlins for four prospects, including Lewis Brinson, on Jan. 25.

What it has meant for this year's team: To say "everything" would be an overstatement, but not by much. Yelich has been fantastic at the plate and quite good in the outfield, pairing with offseason signing Lorenzo Cain to bolster a quality lineup.

Yelich has been a textbook No. 2 hitter, getting on base, providing moderate power, stealing bases and scoring runs. He provides balance to what could otherwise be a heavily right-handed heart of the Milwaukee's batting order.

Video: MIL@MIA: Yelich collects 3 hits, 4 RBIs in Miami

What it tells us about the next 19 days: Milwaukee is that rarest of birds: a team in a smaller market that is focused on winning now. The Brewers aren't going to trade away their entire future for a small fix, but the additions of Yelich and Cain made it clear that the window is right now. If the right piece is available -- a middle infielder or a catcher who makes this team appreciably better -- they won't hesitate to make the move.

CARDINALS
The deal: Acquired Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins for four prospects, including Sandy Alcantara and Magneuris Sierra, on Dec. 14, 2017.

What it has meant for this year's team: Not as much as they would have hoped, and that's part of the issue. The search for an "impact bat" for the middle of St. Louis' batting order goes back years now. In trading for Ozuna, it appeared the Redbirds had finally achieved that goal.

Instead, Ozuuna has slugged below .400, part of a Cards offense that has been struggled to find a grove this year. Thus, the search continues.

Video: ATL@STL: Ozuna takes frustration out on his bat

What it tells us about the next 19 days: Quite a lot, actually.

The Cardinals' front office will not hesitate to add a significant piece if the right one -- perhaps another "impact bat" -- becomes available. But such an addition would almost certainly have to come with long-term club control.

When the Cards acquired Ozuna, they knew they had his services for two years. That would likely be true of any significant player they would add at the deadline.

Finally, the Cardinals parted with two players who had already appeared in the big leagues in trading for Ozuna. They're not necessarily averse to trading from the big league roster in the right circumstance.

CUBS
The deal: Acquired Mike Montgomery and Jordan Pries from the Mariners for Paul Blackburn and Dan Vogelbach on July 20, 2016.

What it meant for this year's team: More than some of the bigger-name deals you might think of when you think of the Cubs. Montgomery has been a Swiss Army knife for Chicago, helping out wherever there has been a pitching need.

Montgomery has eight starts and six games finished -- the only pitcher in the NLwith at least six of each. He has pitched early in tight games, he's pitched in extra innings. In addition to Montgomery's starts, he's entered games in the third, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th innings.

Video: MIN@CHC: Montgomery escapes a bases-loaded jam

What it tells us about the next 19 days: A couple of things. One, it's an indication that not every Cubs trade is a blockbuster, and the chatter around this team has been pretty quiet. Their lineup is deep and has basically no holes, and the front of their rotation looks strong.

Second, Montgomery's versatility directly affects what the Cubs may do. If they decide they want to add a starter, Montgomery can slide right back to the bullpen. If Chicago would rather bolster the 'pen, he can keep starting. He provides flexibility not only in-game, but in trade talks.

PIRATES
The deal: Traded Gerrit Cole to Astros for Michael Feliz, Colin Moran and Joe Musgrove on Jan. 13.

What it meant for this year's team: It's meant two regular players, for one thing. Moran has been the Bucs' primary third baseman, and Musgrove has slotted right into the rotation. Cole has been brilliant for Houston, but it's an open question as to whether that would or could have happened with Pittsburgh.

Video: CIN@PIT: Moran homers for 2nd-straight game

It hasn't been a great year for the Pirates, but after the predictions of doom and gloom in the wake of trading Cole and Andrew McCutchen, it hasn't been a terrible one either.

What it tells us about the next 19 days: Just about everything. The Bucs have no interest in another full-blown rebuild. That explains the return for Cole -- Major League-ready players rather than elite prospects farther from the big leagues.

So while the Pirates will very likely be willing to sell, keep two things in mind. One, they likely won't blow it up entirely. Two, when they do trade players, look more for them to acquire players who could help them in 2019-20 than lottery tickets who might or might not pan out in four years.

REDS
The deal: Acquired Matt Harvey from Mets for Devin Mesoraco on May 8.

What it meant for this year's team: More than even most optimists would have thought. Harvey has been quite good for Cincinnati; not 2013 All-Star good, but better than at any point in the previous two seasons. He's provided desperately needed rotation stability.

Video: MIL@CIN: Harvey tosses 5 2/3 scoreless innings, K's 6

What it tells us about the next 19 days: Well, first, it means the Reds have a legitimately interesting asset for contending teams. Harvey has pitched in a pennant race and in the World Series. And if you just go on his Cincinnati numbers, he's been about as effective as nearly any starter likely to be traded this month.

Beyond that, it shows a certain creativity that is to be admired. The Reds saw the possibility for a bounceback from Harvey. They took a chance, and they've been rewarded. Cincinnati is playing good ball right now, and it won't necessarily tear everything apart. But the Reds will look for value, seeking creative ways to get closer to the time when they can go toe to toe with the top teams in the division.

Matthew Leach is the National League executive editor for MLB.com.

Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals

Cubs club 3 HRs, but drop finale in 13th

MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- With Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber in the lineup together for the first time since June 22, the Cubs offense flashed its lofty potential but lacked timely hitting in a 5-4, 13-inning loss on Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park.

After recording 10 hits combined in the first two games of the series, the Cubs had 11 base knocks in the series finale. Every starter reached base.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- With Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber in the lineup together for the first time since June 22, the Cubs offense flashed its lofty potential but lacked timely hitting in a 5-4, 13-inning loss on Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park.

After recording 10 hits combined in the first two games of the series, the Cubs had 11 base knocks in the series finale. Every starter reached base.

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But runs were not as easy to come by as baserunners. The Cubs went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, stranded 14 men on base and struck out 16 times. All four of the Cubs' runs came via the long ball. Bryant made his highly anticipated return to the lineup with a two-run shot in the fifth inning, which was complemented by solo homers from Jason Heyward in the third and Javier Baez in the seventh. The latter sent the game to extras.

Video: CHC@SF: Bryant smacks a 2-run homer in return from DL

"We came out of our approach," manager Joe Maddon said. "There weren't as many balls to the opposite side, we struck out 16 times today -- these are things we have not been doing. And they didn't necessarily have a bunch of strikeout pitchers going against us today, either. I just thought we got out of our approach."

Starter Mike Montgomery wasn't his sharpest in his five-inning outing, but he battled to keep the Cubs in the game. The lefty allowed four runs in the first before settling in and pitching four scoreless frames.

"Today, I actually felt pretty good," Montgomery said. "Really, outside of the first batter of the game, they hit a couple balls, but I never really felt like I made that many mistakes."

Video: CHC@SF: Montgomery K's Posey swinging in the 1st

Montgomery added: "I thought I made some good pitches. I fell behind guys more than I like to. I really didn't throw my curveball for strikes enough. I thought, 'After that first inning just keep it close.'"

The bullpen did its best to pick up Montgomery. Randy Rosario, Pedro Strop, Justin Wilson, Luke Farrell, Brandon Morrow and James Norwood combined to pitch seven scoreless innings before the Giants got to Norwood in the 13th. Buster Posey abruptly ended the rookie's Major League debut with a walk-off single that hit the wall in right field.

Video: CHC@SF: Farrell retires Hernandez to force extras

The loss snapped the Cubs' three-series win streak and dropped them to two games back of the Brewers in the National League Central.

"We had opportunities," Maddon said. "We've done this way too many times this year. Part of our record is a result of not being able to score in the latter part of games and losing some one-run games. We just go away for a bit. We can't let that happen."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With two outs in the first inning, Brandon Crawford reached on a grounder up the middle that kicked off Montgomery's glove. Ruled a hit, Crawford would come around to score one batter later on Gorkys Hernandez's two-run double. The Giants scored three additional runs after the comebacker.

Video: CHC@SF: Hernandez plates 2 with a double to right

"I made an error on a routine play back to me," Montgomery said. "It was a big difference in this game. I feel like I field that ball nine out of 10 times -- it just hit off my glove. It's frustrating when something small -- a ground ball back to you -- and you boot it off your glove, costs you three extra runs."

NORWOOD MAKES DEBUT
How about making your Major League debut in the bottom of the 12th inning? Norwood,24, recorded two strikeouts in a scoreless frame before the Giants got to him in the 13th.

Video: CHC@SF: Norwood strikes out Crawford for 1st MLB K

"It was amazing," Norwood said. "It felt unbelievable. It's what you dream of growing up."

"The beautiful thing about Norwood is how he handled it," Maddon said. "He just had some great stuff. I'm sure he was getting fatigued there by the end of it, but that's something to look forward to right there."

SOUND SMART
Heyward's sixth home run of the season came on a first-pitch slider from Johnny Cueto. Heyward's past three home runs have come on the first pitch.

Video: CHC@SF: Heyward launches a solo homer to right in 3rd

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Schwarber was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and tasked with facing Will Smith in the ninth inning. Smith had held lefties to a .171/.190/.220 slash line this season entering Wednesday. After fouling off a pitch on a 2-2 count, Schwarber laid a perfect bunt down the third-base line for a two-out single.

Video: CHC@SF: Schwarber beats shift with a 2-strike bunt

HE SAID IT
"He's just struggling right now. Specifically, mechanically, you'd have to talk to him. Right now, it's probably a confidence issue as much as anything. Nothing injury-wise." -- Maddon, on Rizzo, who is 0-for his past-19

"Norwood was it. It was Rizzo, it was Chatwood playing the field, it was all kinds of stuff." -- Maddon, when asked who would have pitched if the game had continued into the 14th inning

UP NEXT
The Cubs will turn to Tyler Chatwood in the series opener on Friday. The right-hander has been hit hard in his past two outings, giving up seven earned runs in each start. Chatwood is looking to go six innings for the first time since April 29. He'll hope to do so at Petco Park, where he's 4-1 lifetime with a 2.84 ERA. The Padres will counter with a former Cub, left-hander Clayton Richard. First pitch is scheduled for 9:10 p.m. CT.

Martin Oppegaard is a reporter for MLB.com.

Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward, Mike Montgomery

Bryant returns from DL, launches 2-run homer

Third baseman vows to 'keep strengthening' shoulder; Maddon starting Hendricks on normal rest
MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Kris Bryant returned to the Cubs' starting lineup on Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park, playing third base and hitting third. He launched a two-run homer in the fifth inning off Giants starter Johnny Cueto.

The big fly drove in Jason Heyward, who singled earlier in the frame and homered in the third inning, to pull Chicago within a run of San Francisco. The Cubs fell in the 13th inning, 5-4, on Buster Posey's walk-off single.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Kris Bryant returned to the Cubs' starting lineup on Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park, playing third base and hitting third. He launched a two-run homer in the fifth inning off Giants starter Johnny Cueto.

The big fly drove in Jason Heyward, who singled earlier in the frame and homered in the third inning, to pull Chicago within a run of San Francisco. The Cubs fell in the 13th inning, 5-4, on Buster Posey's walk-off single.

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"I actually felt really good at the plate today," Bryant said. "I felt like I saw a ton of pitches, except for that last at-bat. I think if I keep doing that, everything will come back real quick. It was a nice first day.

"If I can find a way to hit the ball on the fat part of the bat more often, then I'll have a lot more home runs. It's as simple as that."

Bryant was optimistic about the sore left shoulder that had sidelined him since June 23.

"I'm sure there are going to be days in the future when it feels sore, but right now it feels pretty good," Bryant said.

The third baseman is going to take extra measures and do additional stretches to avoid another stint on the disabled list.

Video: Mark Gonzales provides update on Kris Bryant

"I've got to keep strengthening it," Bryant said about his left shoulder. "As well as my other shoulder, too. It's just a matter of maintaining our bodies. That's all it's really going to be the rest of the way."

The Cubs went 10-6 in Bryant's absence.

"It took a little of the pressure off of me, just being down and feeling kind of helpless," Bryant said. "So it was nice to see the team step up and perform. I don't want to say it was fun to watch, because I wasn't having fun on the DL, but it was great that they took care of business."

Manager Joe Maddon doesn't anticipate any restrictions on Bryant, but he acknowledged potentially giving the former National League Most Valuable Player Award winner more rest.

"Maybe I have to be more proactive giving him a day off now and then," Maddon said. "I'm going to find that out in conversation. We're prepared to do that if we have to.

"He just had half a month off, and he's got a couple more days off [over the All-Star break]. That's like an eternity for a regular position player. I think he should be in pretty good shape moving forward."

Video: CHC@SF: Hendricks fans 8 in sterling start vs. Giants

Hendricks starting on normal rest

Kyle Hendricks had his best outing of the season on Monday, throwing 8 1/3 innings in a tough no-decision. The right-hander struck out eight and did not allow an earned run.

With an off-day on Thursday, the Cubs' rotation will receive an extra day of rest. Maddon has elected to start Hendricks on Saturday and Jon Lester on Sunday. It will be a normal four days of rest for Hendricks.

"We thought that Kyle was in the best position, physically, to come out of the break and have possibly the least amount of time off," Maddon said. "That's why we let him pitch on regular rest."

Martin Oppegaard is a reporter for MLB.com.

Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant

Wednesday's top prospect performers

MLB.com

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Wednesday.

Runs are nearly impossible to score against DL Hall these days and the Orioles' No. 4 prospect proved it once again with six scoreless frames in Class A Delmarva's 6-0 win over Charleston.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Wednesday.

Runs are nearly impossible to score against DL Hall these days and the Orioles' No. 4 prospect proved it once again with six scoreless frames in Class A Delmarva's 6-0 win over Charleston.

Hall, who hasn't given up a run since June 25 or an earned run since June 15, struck out eight and yielded just two hits in what was the longest outing of his career.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

The 19-year-old hasn't given up an earned run in 22 1/3 innings and has given up just one earned run over his past six outings - a span of 26 1/3 innings.

Overall, Hall a first-round pick from the 2017 Draft, has a 2.54 ERA through 15 appearances (60 1/3 innings) in his full-season debut.

Other top prospect performances from Wednesday's action:

• No. 95 overall prospect Christin Stewart (Tigers' No. 5) is getting back in a groove while rehabbing with the Rookie-level GCL Tigers. After going 0-for-3 in his first rehab appearance, Stewart has gone deep each of the past two days.

• No. 99 overall prospect Cristian Pache (Braves' No. 8) went deep for the second time in as many days for Class A Advanced Florida. The 19-year-old, who didn't hit a homer of the first 176 games of his career, has eight homers through 79 games this year after his 2-for-4 performance.

Athletics No. 12 prospect Nick Allen came up with a pair of doubles as part of a big night for Class A Beloit. The 19-year-old set a career high with four hits and finished 4-for-6 with two RBIs.

Brewers No. 6 prospect Corey Ray, who has a career-best 16 homers through 86 games this season, went deep three times and finished 3-for-5 with four RBIs for Double-A Biloxi. The 23-year-old led off the first and third innings with solo homers and then hit a two-run blast in the sixth. Ray also homered on Tuesday and has been red-hot at the plate, going 6-for-14 (.429) over the past three games.

Ray hits a trio of homers

Cubs No. 20 prospect Michael Rucker put up his second straight scoreless start for Double-A Tennessee. Rucker, who hasn't given up an earned run over the past 10 innings, threw 57 of his 80 pitches for strikes, yielded three hits and gave up one unearned run over six innings.

Watch: Rucker finishes 7

Marlins No. 30 prospect John Norwood turned in the second two-homer game of his career as he led Double-A Jacksonville to a win over Chattanooga. Not only did Norwood hit a pair of homers, he also set a season high with four hits and finished 4-for-5 with three RBIs. Merandy Gonzalez (Marlins' No. 13) also put together a strong performance for the Jumbo Shrimp, scattering three hits over seven scoreless innings.

Norwood's second homer

Tigers No. 8 prospect Isaac Paredes put together his third straight multihit effort as he collected a trio of hits for Class A Advanced Lakeland. Paredes, who homered for the second straight game, finished 3-for-6 with three RBIs.

Watch: Paredes goes yard

Yankees No. 26 prospect Garrett Whitlock threw seven innings for the fourth time this season. The right-hander, who has made nine starts with Class A Advanced Tampa after beginning the season with Charleston, gave up one run on two hits, walked two and struck out eight.

• Adam Scott, the Indians fourth-round pick from the 2018 Draft, struck out five over three scoreless innings for Class A Short Season Mahoning Valley. Scott's career has gotten off to a fast start as he's yet to give up a run through six appearances (11 1/3 innings).

• Orioles first-round pick Grayson Rodriguez posted another scoreless outing for the GCL Orioles. The 18-year-old walked one and struck out two over two hitless frames and has now begun his career without giving up a hit or a run over three innings (two starts).

• Chance Kirby, the Tigers 25th-round pick from the 2018 Draft, racked up the strikeouts for Class A Short Season Connecticut. The 22-year-old right-hander struck out 12 over six scoreless innings in his short-season debut. Kirby surrendered just one hit and has a 0.48 ERA through the first four appearances of his career.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.