Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Chicago Cubs

news

Cubs News

Cubs ride balanced attack to win over Cards

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The snow days gave the Cubs more time to work on their hitting approach in the batting cages, and that seemed to pay off on Thursday. Javier Baez provided the spark and Jason Heyward the power with a two-run homer to back Jon Lester and lead the Cubs to an 8-5 victory at Wrigley Field, snapping the Cardinals' winning streak at five.

All nine starters recorded at least one hit for the Cubs, with Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber driving in two runs each. The Cubs were playing just their second game this week after weather-related postponements. Thursday's game was a makeup of Wednesday's postponed contest, and the 47-degree game-time temperature and sunshine were welcome after snow at Wrigley Field. Manager Joe Maddon called it "balmy."

View Full Game Coverage

CHICAGO -- The snow days gave the Cubs more time to work on their hitting approach in the batting cages, and that seemed to pay off on Thursday. Javier Baez provided the spark and Jason Heyward the power with a two-run homer to back Jon Lester and lead the Cubs to an 8-5 victory at Wrigley Field, snapping the Cardinals' winning streak at five.

All nine starters recorded at least one hit for the Cubs, with Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber driving in two runs each. The Cubs were playing just their second game this week after weather-related postponements. Thursday's game was a makeup of Wednesday's postponed contest, and the 47-degree game-time temperature and sunshine were welcome after snow at Wrigley Field. Manager Joe Maddon called it "balmy."

View Full Game Coverage

Video: STL@CHC: Schwarber hits a two-out RBI single in 2nd

"It takes time to gel with that and it takes time for us to gel," Heyward said. "Moving pieces, things like that early in the season, and an inconsistent playing schedule, that will happen."

The Cubs' players kept hitting coach Chili Davis busy, even if there weren't any games.

Video: STL@CHC: Maddon glows over Cubs' win over Cardinals

"Good approach, good at-bats," Maddon said of the Cubs' 14-hit attack, which involved using the entire field. "It is so fun to watch. Keep your launch angles, keep your exit velocities, give me a good at-bat. Those were really good at-bats. Staying inside the ball, using the whole field -- I promise you if they stay on that path, balls will still go out of the ballpark at the pace they're capable of. With that, you'll see better situational hitting, you'll see higher batting averages, on-base percentages. I loved our approach today."

The weird week may have contributed to the sloppy play to begin the game. Lester hit Harrison Bader with one out in the first and Bader then stole second and reached third on a throwing error by Willson Contreras before scoring on a wild pitch.

Video: STL@CHC: Bader speeds home on Lester's wild pitch

"When you don't play consistently, the feel, the nuance, that escapes you," Maddon said. "Throwing and fielding in general was off just a little bit."

The Cardinals totaled two hits over six innings off Lester, who struck out seven and didn't allow a hit until the fifth. He even contributed to the Cubs' offense with a single in the fifth after Heyward's homer.

What helped Lester settle in?

"A four-run [second] inning," Lester said. "When you score four, it kind of opened it up and it makes things easier."

Video: STL@CHC: Lester fans seven, allows no earned runs

"He's a competitor," Maddon said of Lester. "He sizes up each situation. He wanted to go back out [in the seventh]. I said, 'Jon, this is not the time to go 110 [pitches] today.' If it was a closer game, I would've put him back out there."

Baez, moved up in the lineup for the first time this season, had two hits, including a triple, to increase his total of extra-base hits this season to 11.

"It seemed to work," Schwarber said of Baez batting second. "The guy's an exciting ballplayer. I feel we're always talking about Javy Baez. I'm not going to get tired of it. He's a heck of a ballplayer and a lot of instincts and he's a leader and he's fun to watch."

Video: STL@CHC: Morrow strikes out Bader to cap a Cubs win

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Baez provides spark: Maddon tweaked the lineup, moving Baez up to No. 2 in hopes he could provide some "energy." Baez did that in his first at-bat with a triple to the gap in right-center with one out. He then scored on Bryant's single that third baseman Jedd Gyorko deflected.

"That's good to know," Baez said when told of Maddon's plan. "I was trying to stay focused on the same approach, same swings. I didn't get excited, but that's one of my goals is to end up there in the lineup. I feel great, I'm still seeing the ball really good. I chased a few pitches today, but I took good at-bats." More >

Video: STL@CHC: Baez dives in for a triple in the 1st

Cubs bat around: The Cubs sent nine batters to the plate in the second. Heyward singled to lead off and moved up on Lester's sacrifice. Albert Almora Jr., who got a rare start against a right-hander, Luke Weaver, then hit an RBI single and reached third on Baez's single. Almora tallied on Bryant's sacrifice fly and Anthony Rizzo and Schwarber each added RBI singles for a 6-1 lead.

"We're just focusing on the work and the process besides results," Schwarber said. "That's more the thing. We've been doing some pretty good work in the cage. It's pretty much what we did in spring and we're continuing to work well."

Video: STL@CHC: Rizzo singles up the middle to plate Baez

SOUND SMART
Lester, who was making his 100th career start for the Cubs, improved to 5-1 with a 1.88 ERA (12 earned runs over 57 1/3 innings) in nine starts against the Cardinals since the start of the 2016 season.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Heyward's home run registered a 110.7 mph exit velocity, his highest on a homer since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015. The ball sailed 423 feet, which is tied for his second-longest home run. Plus, Heyward made a three-star catch on Matt Carpenter's deep flyout in the fourth, covering 116 feet in 6.3 seconds on a ball with a 55-percent catch probability.

HE SAID IT
"It's good, quality at-bats. We had good at-bats all day. That's nice to see. What people forget -- and I go back to this -- is that guys are still young and maturing at the big league level. In some other organizations, these guys would not be up here or they'd be knocking on the door to get here. [The young Cubs players] have been here three years, and some longer. Every day's a learning process, every day is figuring out something about themselves. We've had some good offensive games for the most part. If we can keep people off the basepaths, we'll be going in the right direction." -- Lester

Video: Cubs players discuss 8-5 victory over Cardinals

UP NEXT
Kyle Hendricks will open the Cubs' three-game series in Denver against Jon Gray and the Rockies on Friday at 7:40 p.m. CT. Hendricks posted a quality start in his last outing against the Pirates but took the loss, serving up a pair of home runs for the second straight outing. The problem was fastball command, and the right-hander said that would be his focus between starts.

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, Jason Heyward

Baez an immediate spark atop Cubs' lineup

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Manager Joe Maddon was hoping Javier Baez could provide a spark at the top of the lineup, and the Cubs' second baseman did just that in the first inning of Thursday's eventual 8-5 win over the Cardinals.

Baez tripled with one out in the first, lining the ball into the gap in right-center, then scored on Kris Bryant's single to tie the game at 1. He hit a single in his second at-bat as part of a four-run second that helped put the Cubs ahead, 6-1.

View Full Game Coverage

CHICAGO -- Manager Joe Maddon was hoping Javier Baez could provide a spark at the top of the lineup, and the Cubs' second baseman did just that in the first inning of Thursday's eventual 8-5 win over the Cardinals.

Baez tripled with one out in the first, lining the ball into the gap in right-center, then scored on Kris Bryant's single to tie the game at 1. He hit a single in his second at-bat as part of a four-run second that helped put the Cubs ahead, 6-1.

View Full Game Coverage

Baez has racked up his share of extra-base hits. He has 14 hits this season, and only three are singles.

"I wanted to get some energy at the top," Maddon said about why he moved Baez up. "He's been doing well. I could have left him at six or seven [in the order]. I'm just shuffling the chairs up a little. There's nothing brilliant about it whatsoever. It's just to provide some energy at the top of the batting order."

Video: STL@CHC: Maddon glows over Cubs' win over Cardinals

"That's good to know," Baez said when told about Maddon's motives. "I was trying to stay focused on the same approach, same swings. I didn't get excited, but that's one of my goals is to end up there in the lineup. I feel great, I'm still seeing the ball really good. I chased a few pitches today, but I took good at-bats."

Baez has shown the ability to use the whole field more, which has helped his offense.

"He might take that out-of-control swing, but then he comes back to reality," Maddon said. "I think he's making in-at-bat adjustments. The moment he stops laying off the down-and-away slider, he'll become Manny Ramirez."

Baez wasn't ready to put himself on that level -- and acknowledged that he has things to work on.

"I've been hitting good," Baez said. "I haven't been playing good defense. I have to go back and work on my defense and keep doing the same things at the plate."

Video: STL@CHC: Bader continues AB after Cubs miss catch

He nearly collided with first baseman Anthony Rizzo chasing Harrison Bader's popup in the third inning. Neither caught the ball, and Baez was charged with an error.

"That's me -- it was his ball," Baez said. "I didn't call the ball. At the last second, I thought he lost the ball and I just went for it and we didn't talk. We're both really good at fly balls. I just went for it because I thought he lost it."

Baez finished the Cubs' seven-game homestand with two doubles, one triple, five home runs, nine runs scored and 12 RBIs. That's a good start.

"The guy's an exciting ballplayer," Chicago's Kyle Schwarber said of Baez. "I feel we're always talking about Javy Baez. I'm not going to get tired of it. He's a heck of a ballplayer and a lot of instincts and he's a leader and he's fun to watch."

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

Thursday's top prospect performers

Brewers duo impresses on both sides of the ball
MLB.com

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

The Brewers' top two prospects showed a bit of why they are so highly-touted on Thursday night.

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

The Brewers' top two prospects showed a bit of why they are so highly-touted on Thursday night.

Milwaukee's No. 1 prospect Keston Hiura (No. 56 overall) hit his first homer of the season in a 2-for-5 showing with Class A Advanced Carolina while Corbin Burnes (Brewers' No. 2, No. 69 overall) spun a scoreless start and picked up the win for Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Hiura, who hit .371 in 42 games after he was picked in the first round a season ago, got off to a slow start this season, but he appears to be finding his rhythm. The 21-year-old has hits in four of his past five games, raising his average from .143 to .220 over that timeframe.

Hiura's first homer of 2018

Burnes was impressive from start to finish as he struck out the side in the first inning, setting the tone for things to come. The right-hander notched at least one strikeout in five of his first six innings, ultimately finishing with nine.

Burnes faced one batter in the seventh, got a flyout, then was lifted after yielding three hits over 6 1/3 innings.

Burnes rings up ninth strikeout

Other top prospect performances from Thursday's action:

• No. 3 overall prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays' No. 1) is hitting .362/.411/.596 after going 2-for-4 with Double-A New Hampshire. Guerrero has hits in 10 of 12 games this season and has notched multiple hits in five of his past six games. While Guerrero was contributing on the offensive end, Jordan Romano (No. 27) kept Binghamton in check with seven innings of one-run ball.

• No. 23 overall prospect Austin Hays (Orioles' No. 1) was responsible for half of Double-A Bowie's offense in a 6-1 win over Richmond. Hays finished just 1-for-4, but he drove in three runs via a sacrifice fly in the first and a two-run homer in the ninth. Cedric Mullins (Orioles' No. 7) collected a season-high three hits, going 3-for-5, and Keegan Akin (Orioles' No. 9) picked up his first win of the year as he struck out seven over six innings of one-run ball.

Hays goes the other way

• No. 38 overall prospect Jack Flaherty (Cardinals' No. 2) spun the first complete game of his career (seven innings) and moved to 3-0 as he led Triple-A Memphis to a win over Omaha in Game 1 of a doubleheader. The 22-year-old right hander gave up two runs (one earned) on two hits and struck out six while throwing 67 of his 95 pitches for strikes.

Flaherty finishes complete game

• No. 97 overall prospect Austin Riley (Braves' No. 8) is swinging a scorching-hot bat for Double-A Mississippi. The 21-year-old, who went 3-for-3, is hitting .408 after his fourth straight multi-hit effort. Over those four games, Riley is 10-for-15 with six extra-base hits and five RBIs.

• No. 99 overall prospect Blake Rutherford (White Sox No. 7) continued his hot start and extended his hitting streak to six games, going 4-for-5 with Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. Rutherford, who is batting .404 through 11 games, also set a career high with four RBIs. Micker Adolfo (No. 10) also contributed to the win, hitting his third homer of the year.

Rutherford's two-run single

Athletics No. 8 prospect Sean Murphy pushed his average to .409 with his fourth consecutive multi-hit performance for Double-A Midland. Murphy, who hit just .209 in 53 games with Midland last season, went 4-for-5 and is off to a particularly fast start at the plate. The 23-year-old has hits in nine of the 11 games he's played in and has also racked up nine RBIs.

Murphy knocks out four hits

• Braves No. 10 prospect Joey Wentz was once again dominant for Class A Advanced Florida. Wentz retired the first five batters he faced on his way toward hurling five scoreless innings. The 20-year-old hasn't given up a run in either of his past two starts (10 innings) and has allowed just one run all season. Wentz struck out six, including the final two batters he faced, and has now fanned 15 in 14 innings.

Cubs No. 3 prospect Oscar De La Cruz bounced back from a couple rough starts to spin a gem for Double-A Tennessee. The right-hander gave up 11 earned runs over six innings in his first two starts, but he showed no signs of struggle against Montgomery. De La Cruz dominated through six scoreless frames, surrendering just one hit and striking out six.

De La Cruz fans six

• Pirates prospects Calvin Mitchell (No. 16) and Travis MacGregor (No. 25) led Class A West Virginia to a 3-0 win over Asheville. Mitchell, who finished 2-for-4, provided all the offense with a three-run homer in the third while MacGregor did his part by pitching six scoreless innings. MacGregor, who struck out six and yielded three hits, has given up just one earned run over three starts this season.

Red Sox No. 11 prospect Josh Ockimey picked the perfect time -- waiting until the bases were loaded -- to hit his first homer of the season. The 22-year-old went 3-for-4 for Double-A Portland and put the game out of reach with a grand slam in the seventh.

Royals No. 25 prospect Chase Vallot snapped an 0-for-17 skid with a first-inning grand slam for Class A Advanced Wilmington. Vallot picked up a fifth RBI via a bases-loaded walk in the fourth, but is still having a tough time at the plate as he finished 1-for-5.

Angels No. 29 prospect Joe Gatto gave up five runs in three innings in his last start with Class A Advanced Inland Empire, but he bounced back in a big way against Lancaster. The 22-year-old right-hander fired 53 of his 79 pitches for strikes as he struck out nine and yielded three hits over six scoreless frames. Gatto struck out the side in the first and notched at least one strikeout in five of his six innings.

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

NL Central: Checking in on the new guys

MLB.com

Corey Dickerson never expected to be "The New Guy." But two months after a surprise move to the Pirates, he is one of the National League Central's most impactful fresh faces.

While other division newcomers are still searching for their footing, Dickerson has been productive from the start for the Bucs. That's impressive, given that the phone call from the Rays informing him he'd been designated for assignment on Feb. 18 was utterly unexpected.

Corey Dickerson never expected to be "The New Guy." But two months after a surprise move to the Pirates, he is one of the National League Central's most impactful fresh faces.

While other division newcomers are still searching for their footing, Dickerson has been productive from the start for the Bucs. That's impressive, given that the phone call from the Rays informing him he'd been designated for assignment on Feb. 18 was utterly unexpected.

After all, Dickerson was coming off a .282/.325/.490 season with Tampa Bay, with 27 homers in 150 games, plus an appearance on the American League All-Star team. A trade would not have totally shocked him. But designated for assignment?

"It's hard to stomach," Dickerson said. "At the time, I was caught off guard."

The Rays eventually traded Dickerson to Pittsburgh to be the Pirates' regular left fielder.

"Whenever it finally happened, I was just excited," he said. "All I'm worried about is competing. I'm a very competitive person. I always try to turn the page quickly."

Here's a look at how other notable page-turners are doing so far.

Brewers
Who's the new guy?
Outfielder Christian Yelich

Video: MIL@SD: Yelich lights it up at plate with five hits

How's it going so far? Yelich was off to a terrific start, including a five-hit game in San Diego in the third game of the season and a game-tying home run with two strikes and two outs in a stunning come-from-behind win over the Cardinals in the Brewers' second home game. But he suffered a right oblique injury the next night and landed on the disabled list until his return to the starting lineup Wednesday against the Reds. After fielding questions all spring about Milwaukee's crowded outfield, the depth has proven useful so far.

What's on deck? Some familiar faces. Yelich returned to action in time for a one-game tune-up before his first four games against the Marlins, who drafted him in the first round in 2010 and gave Yelich his break in the big leagues. Miami opens a four-game series at Miller Park on Thursday night.

Number to know: Five. That's how many seasons the Brewers have contractual control of Yelich, which explains why they were willing to part with four premium prospects -- outfielders Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison, infielder Isan Diaz and pitcher Jordan Yamamoto -- to get him. Brinson is off to a slow start for Miami (.316 OPS through his first 16 games and 66 plate appearances), but he will get a chance to do some damage against his former team this weekend.

Cardinals
Who's the new guy?
 Outfielder Marcell Ozuna

Video: STL@MIL: Ozuna crushes a monster 479-ft. home run

How's it going so far? Ozuna's .673 OPS through his first 16 games with the Cardinals says he is off to a slow start, but at least he has been steady, with a .271 batting average and at least one hit in 12 of those games. What has not come yet is the power. In 11 games after a monstrous home run at Miller Park on April 3, Ozuna had only two extra-base hits.

What's on deck? History says the power will come with warmer weather. May is traditionally Ozuna's strongest month, with his best home run total (24) and OPS (.871) of any month.

Number to know: 48.1 percent, which was Ozuna's hard-hit percentage through his first 16 games. It was 39.1 percent last season, when Ozuna drilled 37 home runs for the Marlins, won an NL Silver Slugger Award and garnered NL MVP Award votes. The extra-base hits will come.

Cubs
Who's the new guy?
Right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish

Video: CHC@MIL: Darvish dazzles in second start

How's it going so far? Not great, but we are talking about three starts. Darvish spun a gem against the Brewers on April 7 at Miller Park, when he struck out nine and limited Milwaukee to one run on two hits and a walk in six innings of a win. But in his other two starts -- against the Marlins and Braves -- Darvish surrendered nine earned runs on 14 hits in nine innings, with a pedestrian ratio of eight strikeouts to six walks.

What's on deck? Warmer weather, hopefully. Darvish's most recent start against the Braves was his home debut, and he wore short sleeves for a 42-degree first pitch. His next scheduled start on Saturday in Denver won't be much warmer, and then it's back to Wrigley Field for a rematch with the Brewers.

"I was surprised how cold it was, but I told myself I'll perform better if the weather is colder," Darvish said. "When I was on the mound, I didn't feel any cold."

Number to know: 94.3 mph, the average velocity of Darvish's first 120 four-seam fastballs in 2018, according to Statcast™. That's identical to his average in '17 -- a positive sign, considering it is so early in the season, and Darvish's most recent start came in the cold.

Pirates
Who's the new guy?
Dickerson

Video: CIN@PIT: Dickerson lifts a home run to right in 5th

How's it going so far? Considering that Dickerson has been one of the most valuable players in the league so far, pretty well. He entered play Thursday leading the NL in Baseball-Reference.com's version of wins above replacement and third in Fangraphs' version. Dickerson was a perfect fit for the Pirates after they traded Andrew McCutchen to the Giants, and he has posted an .878 OPS through 15 games.

What's on deck? Since Dickerson has spread his production around -- he's had multihit games against the Twins, Reds, Cubs and Marlins -- there is hope that his production is sustainable. But the Bucs start a four-game series in Philadelphia on Thursday against a Phillies team that ranks fifth in the NL with a 3.46 ERA.

Number to know: 1.0. That's Dickerson's NL-leading defensive WAR, according to Baseball-Reference, through 15 games. That qualifies as a surprise, since Dickerson is not known for his defense.

Reds
Who's the new guy?
Right-hander Jared Hughes

Video: CIN@PHI: Hughes gets out of a jam with big K

How's it going so far? The NL Central journeyman has been a nice addition so far, with a 2.25 ERA in a team-high 10 appearances for the Reds. That he is their only new addition (another relief pickup, David Hernandez, is on the DL) speaks to Cincinnati's commitment to developing their own young players during something of a rebuilding period.

What's on deck? A heavy workload, if history holds. Hughes has pitched in at least 63 games for the Pirates and Brewers in five of the past six seasons, including 67 appearances in each of the past two years. After appearing in 10 of the Reds' first 18 games, he's well on the way to doing it again.

Number to know: Zero. That's how many home runs Hughes has surrendered so far, a positive sign for a pitcher known for his good sinker.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Yu Darvish, Corey Dickerson, Jared Hughes, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich

Maddon giving Happ time to work through woes

Zobrist bothered by back issues; top prospect Alzolay joins Triple-A Iowa
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Ian Happ homered on the first pitch of the Major League season on March 29, but it's been a struggle for him since then. The switch-hitting outfielder was batting .204 in his first 13 games, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Thursday he's seeing encouraging signs.

Happ was not in the Cubs' lineup for the finale against the Cardinals, and part of that was to give him time to focus on the lessons.

View Full Game Coverage

CHICAGO -- Ian Happ homered on the first pitch of the Major League season on March 29, but it's been a struggle for him since then. The switch-hitting outfielder was batting .204 in his first 13 games, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Thursday he's seeing encouraging signs.

Happ was not in the Cubs' lineup for the finale against the Cardinals, and part of that was to give him time to focus on the lessons.

View Full Game Coverage

"I've talked to [hitting coach] Chili [Davis] a lot about it," Maddon said. "[Happ] feels much better on the right side of the plate than the left side, which is normally not the case. Hopefully, he can maintain that as he works through the left-handed problems he's got. I really like the way this guy is. He'll work through it. I like the plan Chili has set forth for him."

Happ was 4-for-13 (.308) from the left side with six strikeouts, and 6-for-36 (.167) from the right side with 19 K's. His 47.2 strikeout percentage (25 K's in 53 plate appearances) is the highest of any qualified hitter in the Majors this season. Will Maddon pick his spots for Happ?

"Probably a little bit," Maddon said. "My main thought is to talk to Chili every day and Ian to see how they're feeling about things. If I hear from both of them that they feel strongly about what's going on, then I'll start pushing it again."

Last season, Happ batted .253 in 115 games, hitting 24 home runs.

"First of all, I believe in Ian a lot," Maddon said. "He's really a unique young man. He's introspective, he's bright. He has a really high emotional IQ. He understands and accepts and works through moments, as opposed to becoming overly emotional about them."

Video: ATL@CHC: Zobrist races to third for an RBI triple

Ben Zobrist did not start Thursday because of back problems that Maddon thought were similiar to what kept the versatile veteran sidelined most of Spring Training. However, Zobrist said it's a different problem.

"In Spring Training, it was stuck," Zobrist said of his back. "It was stuck when I got in certain spots. It's not stuck at all [now]. In certain spots, it's just a little uncomfortable. That's why they held me out. Today was a 'Hold me out again and tell us how you feel' kind of thing."

Zobrist did work in the batting cages during Thursday's 8-5 win, but wasn't needed to pinch-hit.

"It was a step in the right direction," Zobrist said. "These things, you have to be more cautious when you have a little history."

Zobrist would've been leading off against the Cardinals if he was available, Maddon said. Instead, Maddon went with Albert Almora Jr. against right-hander Luke Weaver and moved Javier Baez into the No. 2 spot for the first time this season.

"I wanted to get some energy at the top," Maddon said of Baez. "He's been doing well. I could have left him at six or seven [in the order]. I'm just shuffling the chairs up a little. There's nothing brilliant about it whatsover. It's just to provide some energy at the top of the batting order."

• After 15 games, the Cubs' starting pitchers ranked 14th in the National League with a 5.31 ERA. That's not what they expected, but Kyle Hendricks said part of the problem has been because the schedule keeps getting interrupted by the weather. The Cubs have had five games postponed.

"This has been weird," Hendricks said. "I've never been through anything like this. Once this weather clears up, we'll be ready to go."

There was plenty of sunshine on Thursday. Hendricks, who will open the Cubs' three-game series in Colorado on Friday, said he's pitched in the cold before.

"In college, I pitched in a game April 5 and it was snowing, and that was the worst I'd seen until now," Hendricks said. "It's out of our control. You just have to get your work in and whenever we can play, we'll play."

• Cubs top prospect Adbert Alzolay will make his first start of the season on Friday, pitching for Triple-A Iowa. Wednesday's game was postponed, so Luke Farrell will start on Thursday and Alzolay will go Friday.

Alzolay, ranked No. 1 on MLB Pipeline's list of the Top 30 Cubs prospects, was 7-1 with a 2.98 ERA in 15 starts at Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach last season, then went 0-3 with a 3.03 ERA in seven starts for Double-A Tennessee. He was in extended spring camp before joining Iowa.

• The Cubs raised $1.8 million on Wednesday night at the Bricks and Ivy Ball, including $50,000 from the sale of one of the paintings Maddon revealed during Spring Training.

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

Chicago Cubs, Ian Happ

Cubs, Braves to honor Jackie at May 14 game

With Sunday's game rained out, clubs postpone Jackie Robinson Day celebration to makeup date
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Cubs and Braves are expected to delay their celebration of Jackie Robinson Day to May 14, when the two teams will play a makeup game at Wrigley Field.

Sunday's game between the Cubs and Braves was postponed because of the weather, and a Braves spokesman said the two teams would honor Robinson in the makeup game.

CHICAGO -- The Cubs and Braves are expected to delay their celebration of Jackie Robinson Day to May 14, when the two teams will play a makeup game at Wrigley Field.

Sunday's game between the Cubs and Braves was postponed because of the weather, and a Braves spokesman said the two teams would honor Robinson in the makeup game.

It would be fitting to honor Robinson at Wrigley Field, the only remaining Major League stadium that he played a game in. In 93 games at Wrigley, Robinson batted .295 (99-for-336) with 22 doubles, seven triples, five homers, 43 RBIs and a .400 on-base percentage.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon has done his own research on Robinson, listening to stories about him from Don Zimmer, Al Campanas and Preston Gomez.

"It's great he's being honored -- I'm a big fan," Maddon said of Robinson, the first modern player to break Major League Baseball's color barrier.

"He added so much life to the game," Maddon said, specifically citing Robinson's baserunning skills. "I think people showed up just to see this guy play, regardless of skin color. This guy was a good, energetic, entertaining baseball player. Beyond that, he spoke, and spoke well. He's one of those guys you wish you had met."

As has been tradition each April 15 since 2009, Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day with all players and on-field personnel wearing Jackie's iconic number 42. This year, there will be additional on-field uniform elements, including a commemorative patch on all team caps and jersey sleeves, socks emblazoned with "42," and a brand-new, lightweight hooded fleece for batting practice and dugout wear, also featuring the "42" logo. MLB will donate all proceeds from the sale of such items to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

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

Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves

Baez's bat not enough to bail out Chatwood

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Right-hander Tyler Chatwood had good stuff on Tuesday night. He just had a hard time commanding it.

Javier Baez finished a triple shy of the cycle, hitting a two-run homer in the eighth inning, but it wasn't enough to help Chatwood in a 5-3 loss to the Cardinals.

View Full Game Coverage

CHICAGO -- Right-hander Tyler Chatwood had good stuff on Tuesday night. He just had a hard time commanding it.

Javier Baez finished a triple shy of the cycle, hitting a two-run homer in the eighth inning, but it wasn't enough to help Chatwood in a 5-3 loss to the Cardinals.

View Full Game Coverage

In his first two games with the Cubs, Chatwood issued seven walks over 11 innings. On Tuesday night he walked that many in 4 2/3 innings.

"I feel my stuff is always going to be there," Chatwood said. "I just have to command it. My ball had a lot of life, a lot of movement. Early on, I had both breaking balls working. It's just a matter of getting ahead so I can use that stuff as the game goes on.

"They spoiled some good pitches and then I would just get erratic. I think I just have to be more competitive throughout the at-bat. I have to make good pitches throughout."

Video: STL@CHC: Chatwood K's Wainwright, side in 2nd

Said Cubs manager Joe Maddon: "He just has to figure out where the ball is going more consistently, because the stuff plays really well."

Matt Carpenter hit an RBI double off Chatwood and added a two-run single in the eighth to back Adam Wainwright and lead St. Louis to victory in the first meeting between the National League Central rivals this season.

Cubs starters began the day ranked third in the NL in walks, and a pair of free passes set up the Cardinals' two runs in the third. Chatwood walked the first two batters he faced that inning, prompting a visit from pitching coach Jim Hickey. Carpenter then doubled for the Cardinals' only hit off Chatwood, and another run scored on Marcell Ozuna's groundout for a 2-0 lead.

The Cubs' starting pitchers have totaled six quality starts in the first 15 games, and their inability to go deep has kept the bullpen busy. Maddon predicts better days ahead.

"It's going to happen," he said. "I'm fully confident it's going to happen. The bullpen has done a wonderful job, and the starters are really good. There's a lot to look forward to with the starters because they're really good, and as things settle in, they'll really start piling up the innings. I mean that, I'm not just saying it."

Baez has been playing as though it's summertime, not chilly April. He doubled in the second, singled in the fifth and hit his fifth home run in the eighth off Greg Holland. Baez has 12 hits, and all but two have gone for extra bases; he's totaled 12 RBIs on the homestand.

"He's seeing the ball well, he's hitting the ball well, and it's fun to watch," Anthony Rizzo said.

Rizzo, back from the disabled list, went 0-for-3 with a walk in his first game since April 5. He shrugged off the gametime temperature of 35 degrees.

"You can't let it make you miserable," Rizzo said. "You know the sunny days are coming, both on the field and as a group. We'll just keep playing through it."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Chance missed, chance grabbed: The Cubs had a scoring opportunity in the third when they loaded the bases with two out against Wainwright, but he got Kyle Schwarber looking at a 75.7-mph curveball for strike three. With one out in the fourth, Addison Russell hit a bouncer to Wainwright, who overthrew first for an error. Russell reached second on the miscue, then scored on Jason Heyward's single to pull the Cubs within a run.

"We gave ourselves a couple chances today to drive some runners in, and we didn't get the job done," Rizzo said. "The more we keep having good at-bats and guys taking their walks and getting on base, this team is going to come through sooner or later. It's just a matter of time."

Video: STL@CHC: Heyward grounds RBI single to right

Cishek denies Cards: The Cubs' bullpen has been solid this season, and Steve Cishek came through in the sixth. The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out, but Cishek struck out Dexter Fowler and got Tommy Pham to ground out and end the inning. Carl Edwards Jr. also had a good outing in relief, striking out the side in the seventh.

Video: STL@CHC: Cishek works out of trouble in 6th

SOUND SMART
Chatwood is the first Cubs pitcher with seven strikeouts, seven walks and two or fewer hits in a start since Kerry Wood did so July 13, 2001, against the White Sox.

Baez is the first Cubs player to have 10 of his first 12 hits go for extra bases since Sammy Sosa in 2004.

HE SAID IT
"Our guys have to get back in [the dugout] and hit, and I'm leaving them out there standing in the cold for a while. Wainwright is really good. That's not a good recipe for success." -- Chatwood, on wanting quick innings to help his teammates

Video: STL@CHC: Maddon talks Chatwood, cold weather

UP NEXT
Left-hander Jon Lester will start on Wednesday opposite Luke Weaver in the series finale against the Cardinals. He did not get a decision in his last outing, against the Pirates, giving up four earned runs on seven hits over five innings. He was most bothered by the walks -- he issued three -- and said he needs to "clean that up." Lester was 2-1 with a 2.93 ERA in five starts vs. St. Louis last season. First pitch will be 1:20 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

Zobrist a late scratch with tightness in back

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Cubs got Anthony Rizzo back on Tuesday, but Ben Zobrist was scratched prior to the game against the Cardinals because of tightness in his back.

Zobrist was to lead off and play right field, but instead Ian Happ got the start in center, and Jason Heyward was moved from center to right field.

View Full Game Coverage

CHICAGO -- The Cubs got Anthony Rizzo back on Tuesday, but Ben Zobrist was scratched prior to the game against the Cardinals because of tightness in his back.

Zobrist was to lead off and play right field, but instead Ian Happ got the start in center, and Jason Heyward was moved from center to right field.

View Full Game Coverage

Zobrist was limited this spring because of tightness in his back, and totaled 34 at-bats.

Rizzo was activated from the 10-day disabled list after being sidelined with tightness in his lower back.

• Cubs manager Joe Maddon introduced new artwork on Tuesday, part of his season-long campaign to link art and the sport. This month's painting, which was done by Tampa Bay-area artist Jason Skeldon, features Uncle Sam with inspirational messages.

One of the original paintings that featured Skeldon's take on the Mona Lisa will be auctioned Wednesday at the Bricks and Ivy Ball, which is Cubs Charities' primary fundraising event.

"The original thought was to create a theme for the season," Maddon said. "Beyond that, yes, I do want to make money for the [Respect 90] Foundation. The money that comes back to me personally is all for charity."

Money raised from the sale of prints of the paintings will go to either Respect 90 or Cubs Charities, or one of the Cubs players' charities.

Maddon also has an idea to create a program through which he can answer questions from students via Skype or Facetime for 30 minutes.

"I'm having a coffee, we're in Cincinnati ... Why wouldn't I do something like this?" Maddon said.

"You sit in a classroom, a young group of journalists, 10th grade, and they sit there and ask me questions for a half an hour and we talk about what's going on with the Cubs or baseball in general," he said, adding that other teams and players could take part as well. "I think once that connection is made, whoever was in that class is a Cubs fan forever or a Pirate fan forever. Even if they're not a fan of baseball, they become attached because of that technological connection."

Adbert Alzolay, the Cubs' No. 1 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline, will make his 2018 debut on Thursday with Triple-A Iowa. Alzolay has been in extended spring training to build up arm strength. Alzolay was 7-1 with a 2.98 ERA in 15 starts at Class A Myrtle Beach last year.

• The Cubs and Braves will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on May 14, when the two teams meet in a makeup game at Wrigley Field. Their game on Sunday, which was Jackie Robinson Day around MLB, was postponed because of the inclement weather. Both teams will wear the No. 42 jerseys to honor Robinson, who broke baseball's color barrier.

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

Chicago Cubs

Cubs activate Rizzo to face Cardinals

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- First baseman Anthony Rizzo was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday and back in the Cubs lineup for the start of a two-game series against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

"Definitely the last three or four days for sure [I've been ready]," Rizzo said Tuesday. "I've been swinging a little harder, ramping it up, trying to take as close to game swings as I could. I think being smart with it, hopefully this is the end of it."

View Full Game Coverage

CHICAGO -- First baseman Anthony Rizzo was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday and back in the Cubs lineup for the start of a two-game series against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

"Definitely the last three or four days for sure [I've been ready]," Rizzo said Tuesday. "I've been swinging a little harder, ramping it up, trying to take as close to game swings as I could. I think being smart with it, hopefully this is the end of it."

View Full Game Coverage

Rizzo has been sidelined since April 6 because of stiffness in his lower back. He already had an exercise routine but has added some more exercises as part of what he called a maintenance program.

"[I have to] do a little more stretching, a little more maintenance before I get going and do my workouts and whatnot to make sure my body is nice and loose," Rizzo said.

He's not going to cut back on his pregame hitting or work on the field.

"I have a pretty simple routine when it comes to hitting and taking grounders," Rizzo said. "If I do any less, I'd probably just have to stop doing anything."

The Cubs sent first baseman Efren Navarro back to Triple-A Iowa to make room on the active roster for Rizzo. Navarro was 1-for-6 in four games, and subbed at first base for four innings on Saturday. The Cubs also have had Victor Caratini, Ben Zobrist and Kris Bryant start at first base in Rizzo's absence.

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

Sunday's top prospect performers

MLB.com

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

The Iowa Cubs received strong offensive contributions from a pair of top prospects, as Mark Zagunis and David Bote each collected three hits, including a home run, while combining for five RBIs and five runs in a 9-4 win over Memphis.

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

The Iowa Cubs received strong offensive contributions from a pair of top prospects, as Mark Zagunis and David Bote each collected three hits, including a home run, while combining for five RBIs and five runs in a 9-4 win over Memphis.

Zagunis, the Cubs' No. 13 prospect, singled in his first at-bat before connecting on a solo home run in the fourth inning. He would later add a two-run double to finish the game 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs. Zagunis' double and homer were both firsts this season for the 25-year-old outfielder, and he improved his average from .130 to .214 with the multi-hit performance (also a first).

Bote (No. 14) also posted a pair of extra-base hits in his three-hit game. He launched his second solo home run in as many days in the third inning, before pushing across a run in the ninth with a triple and finishing 3-for-5. The 25-year-old second baseman scuffled out of the gate, but has swung a hot bat of late, hitting .375 with two homers and five RBIs in his past four games.

The rest of the best performances from top prospects Sunday

• Making his 2018 debut, No. 26 overall prospect Sixto Sanchez (Phillies' No. 1) allowed four earned runs on seven hits in four innings in a no-decision for Class A Advanced Clearwater. While the 19-year-old struggled with his control in the outing as he issued four walks and threw just 46 of his 83 pitches for strikes, he still managed to register six strikeouts and routinely hit triple digits with his fastball.

• One night removed from hitting a game-tying home run in the eighth inning, No. 33 overall prospect Alex Verdugo (Dodgers' No. 2) one-upped himself with a walk-off, three-run blast that powered Triple-A Oklahoma City past New Orleans, 8-6, in 10 innings. Making the feat all the more impressive was that the 21-year-old outfielder had entered the game in the top of the frame as part of a double switch. He's hitting .324 on the season, with two homers, two doubles and eight runs in nine games.

Verdugo's walk-off homer

No. 57 overall prospect Jesus Sanchez (Rays' No. 4) homered for a second straight day, hitting a three-run shot that proved to be the difference in Class A Advanced Charlotte's 9-6 win over Lakeland. He finished the game 2-for-5 at the dish and has now hit in four straight for the Stone Crabs, including three multi-hit games. Shortstop Lucius Fox (No. 7) stayed hot with a 3-for-6 performance, his sixth multi-hit performance in 10 games this season, while Josh Lowe (No. 11) went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.

Yordan Alvarez's lone hit was a big one, as the Astros' No. 4 prospect belted a three-run, walk-off home run in the 11th inning of Double-A Corpus Christi's 10-7 win over Arkansas. The 20-year-old outfielder had struck out three times in his previous five at-bats before delivering the game-winning blast. Overall, Alvarez owns a .286 average through nine games, with two homers and 10 RBIs.

Alvarez hits walk-off

Astros No. 10 prospect Corbin Martin carried a no-hit bid into the fifth inning and went on to complete six scoreless innings as Class A Advanced Buies Creek blanked Salem, 5-0. The 2017 second-rounder earned his first career win with the performance, as Martin allowed two hits and three walks with six strikeouts. He is yet to allow an earned run in two starts, during which he's permitted three hits while striking out 13 in 10 innings. At the plate, Ronnie Dawson (No. 15) paced the Astros' offense by hitting his first home run, a third-inning solo shot, as part of a 3-for-5 day. The 22-year-old outfielder had just four hits in 33 at-bats (.121) heading into the game.

Braves No. 13 prospect Bryse Wilson extended his season-opening scoreless streak to 8 2/3 innings behind five dominant innings Sunday in Class A Advanced Florida's win over Palm Beach. The 20-year-old righty allowed just one hit, generated six ground-ball outs and struck out five for a second straight start. Wilson's five-inning, scoreless performance was the third in as many games for the Fire Frogs after Joey Wentz (No. 10) and Ian Anderson (No. 5, No. 51 overall) accomplished the feat on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Brewers No. 4 prospect Lucas Erceg, Corey Ray (No. 7) and Trent Grisham (No. 8) each tallied at least two hits and one run as Double-A Biloxi defeated Mississippi, 7-4, in game one of a doubleheader. Ray recorded the lone extra-base hit of a the trio, hitting a double in a 2-for-4 effort out of the leadoff spot, while Erceg lifted his average to .389 by going 2-for-3. Grisham, meanwhile, paced the Shuckers' lineup with two runs as he finished 2-for-3. Ray would later add two more hits in the nightcap, giving him multiple hits in four of his past five games.

• Make it three wins in as many starts for Brewers No. 10 prospect Freddy Peralta. Starting game one of Triple-A Colorado Springs' double-dip, the 21-year-old worked six strong frames, allowing two earned runs on seven hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. He's pitched to a 1.13 ERA in the early going this season, with 11 hits allowed and 20 strikeouts in 16 innings. Mauricio Dubon (No. 11) and Jacob Nottingham (No. 27) both entered the home-run column with solo shots to help lead the Sky Sox past Round Rock, 7-4.

Dodgers No. 6 prospect DJ Peters smashed a solo home run and a double as he collected three hits for the second time in four games for Double-A Tulsa. The long ball, a third-inning solo shot, was Peters' third in 10 games this season. In 2017, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound outfielder hit 27 homers to finish third in the Class A Advanced California League.

Peters goes yard

Dodgers No. 15 prospect Connor Wong recorded a career-high five RBIs behind a pair of home runs, the latter of which, a three-run shot in the eighth inning, proved to be the game-winner for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga against Inland Empire. The 21-year-old second baseman, the Dodgers' second-round pick last June, finished the game 3-for-4 with a double and three runs. He's off to a red-hot start to begin his first full season, with a .361 average, five home runs, 11 RBIs and 13 runs through nine games.

Padres No. 12 prospect Esteury Ruiz hit a two-run home run off of No. 25 overall prospect Brendan McKay (Rays' No. 3), though it wasn't enough to keep Class A Fort Wayne from falling to Bowling Green, 5-3. It was the first home run in 2018 for the 19-year-old second baseman, who garnered MVP honors last season after pacing the Rookie-level Arizona league in average (.350), hits (72), doubles (20), triples (10) and total bases (124) last season.

Padres No. 13 prospect Eric Lauer matched his career high with 10 strikeouts as he posted six scoreless frames in Triple-A El Paso's rout of Las Vegas. He permitted three hits and walked two in the performance while throwing 59 of his 97 pitches for strikes. The 22-year-old lefty has completed exactly six innings in each of his three starts this season, his first at the Triple-A level.

Lauer's 10th strikeout

White Sox No. 10 prospect Micker Adolfo homered for a second straight day and was the lone Class A Advanced Winston-Salem player to collect multiple hits in a 6-3 loss against Carolina. The 21-year-old outfielder has opened the season on a tear and the 2-for-3 performance improved his slash line to .395/.435/.651 through 11 games. He's compiled seven extra-base hits and 10 RBIs in that span while striking out at an improved 17.4 percent clip.

White Sox No. 16 prospect Ian Clarkin posted his third career complete game as he pitched Double-A Birmingham past Montgomery, 2-1, in game one of a doubleheader. Throwing just 93 pitches (61 strikeouts) in the outing, the 23-year-old southpaw allowed one earned run as he scattered five hits with six strikeouts in seven innings. Zack Collins (No. 9) supported Clarkin with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit in eight games this season.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Cubs' 9-run 8th caps amazing rally from 8 down

Baez ties it with three-run double before Schwarber's go-ahead walk as club scores 12 unanswered runs
Special to MLB.com

CHICAGO -- When Jason Heyward was hit by a pitch to start the eighth inning in front of a Wrigley Field crowd dwindled dramatically by cold winds, a constant rain and a sizable scoreboard deficit, it seemed so innocent. At least at the time.

By the time the inning ended, the Cubs had scored nine runs on a collection of three hits, five walks, a wild pitch, an error and two hit batsmen, and suddenly, everything had changed.

View Full Game Coverage

CHICAGO -- When Jason Heyward was hit by a pitch to start the eighth inning in front of a Wrigley Field crowd dwindled dramatically by cold winds, a constant rain and a sizable scoreboard deficit, it seemed so innocent. At least at the time.

By the time the inning ended, the Cubs had scored nine runs on a collection of three hits, five walks, a wild pitch, an error and two hit batsmen, and suddenly, everything had changed.

View Full Game Coverage

Trailing once by eight runs and down five entering the eighth, the Cubs sent 13 hitters to the plate to cap an amazing 14-10 win over the Braves on Saturday, during which they scored 12 unanswered runs. The Cubs scored the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk to Kyle Schwarber from reliever Sam Freeman after Javier Baez tied it with a clutch three-run double off Jose Ramirez.

All nine runs in the inning were scored with two outs.

Relive madness of Cubs' epic comeback with best plays, fan reactions

"We don't really ever give up -- never," said Baez, who finished 1-for-5 with four RBIs. "We didn't give up. ... They were comfortable with the leads, and we scored nine runs in one inning. We can change the game with one swing, and everybody [has] power in the lineup and on the bench.

"We just have to play the game to 27 outs, and when it's over, it's over."

Video: ATL@CHC: Baez on the Cubs' comeback win over Braves

Baez's clutch hit came after he had popped out, struck out, reached on an error and grounded out, although the groundout drove in a run.

"I didn't try to do too much to it," Baez said. "Obviously, a ball in the air wasn't going anywhere with the wind today, so I was just being smart and hitting the ball good."

Video: ATL@CHC: Baez brings home Zobrist from third base

Willson Contreras drove in a run in the eighth inning with a bases-loaded infield single before Ben Zobrist drew a walk to get the Cubs to within three runs. Baez then tied the score with his double into the gap in left-center before the Cubs piled on four more runs, two of which came on bases-loaded walks and two more coming on a wild pitch.

"It was one of the craziest wins I have been a part of," Kris Bryant said. "It was just a crazy turn of events. Windy, wet, cold, sideways rain, and we were able to overcome that. It says a lot about us and who we are. We don't let the scoreboard dictate how we're going to go out there and play, and that [game] was a prime example of that."

The late rally saved the Cubs, who trailed, 10-2, going into their half of the sixth inning and appeared on the verge of falling to 1-4 at home this season. Starter Jose Quintana was cold from the beginning, when he served up a leadoff homer to Ozzie Albies -- who drove in a run in each of his first four at-bats, while falling a triple shy of the cycle.

Video: ATL@CHC: Schwarber works bases-loaded walk in the 6th

Quintana's day ended after walking Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb -- his fourth free pass of the day. But the Cubs' eighth-inning rally took Quintana off the hook, and the bullpen -- sparked by Eddie Butler, who gave the Cubs 3 2/3 innings before Steve Cishek, Justin Wilson and Brandon Morrow each recorded a scoreless inning.

Video: ATL@CHC: Morrow ends 9th, seals Cubs' comeback win

The Braves tallied at least one run in each of the first four innings, including five in the third, and appeared in control even after the Cubs scored a pair of runs in the seventh inning to get to within five runs.

Video: ATL@CHC: Maddon on high-volume comeback win

But then came the eighth, when the Cubs relentlessly grinded out at-bats. Afterward, manager Joe Maddon characterized the victory as "fortunate."

"[It would have been] easy to pack that game in," Maddon said. "[The win] obviously can be impactful, but you have to wait until tomorrow or the next day to find that out. I do know the guys are definitely going to go home feeling better about themselves. But I don't get carried away yet by things like this -- I really don't."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Triple threat:
 The Cubs scored a pair of key seventh-inning runs that provided momentum going into the game-changing eighth. After Bryant drew a leadoff walk, Zobrist, who went 3-for-3 and reached base five times, delivered an RBI triple with one out and then scored on Baez's groundout to get the Cubs to within 10-5.

Video: ATL@CHC: Zobrist races to third for an RBI triple

Zobrist also scored in the eighth inning on Baez's bases-clearing double. Zobrist, along with Bryant (two), were the lone Cubs hitters with multiple hits.

"Those two guys had a pro day," Maddon said. "Zo had himself a spectacular day."

That's Almora: Albert Almora Jr. was a late add to the lineup after he missed Friday's loss to the Braves due to an illness. But the outfielder wasted little time making his mark on this game. Almora saved a run from scoring in the first inning, when he made a diving catch in wet, windy and frigid conditions on Lane Adams' fly ball.

Video: ATL@CHC: Almora Jr. lays out for a tough grab

In the bottom half of the frame, he proceeded to tie the game with a solo home run into the left-field bleachers off Newcomb. It was his first home run of the season. More >

Video: ATL@CHC: Almora Jr. smacks first homer of 2018

SOUND SMART
The Cubs are the first team to win by four or more runs after trailing by eight or more runs since the Blue Jays came back from an eight-run deficit to beat the Reds, 14-9, on June 20, 2014.

UP NEXT
Making his third start, Tyler Chatwood (0-2, 4.91 ERA) will look for his first victory in a Cubs uniform Sunday at 1:20 p.m. CT against the Braves, as the clubs celebrate Jackie Robinson Day at Wrigley Field. Chatwood will duel with Atlanta starter Julio Teheran.

Jeff Arnold is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez, Albert Almora Jr., Jose Quintana, Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist

DYK: Facts, figures from Cubs' epic comeback

Chicago scores 12 unanswered, including 9-run eighth inning, to shock Atlanta
MLB.com

Sub-30 degree wind chills, wind gusts over 25 mph and plenty of rain. That was just the start of a memorable day at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs scored 12 unanswered runs to shock the Braves with a 14-10 comeback victory Saturday after trailing, 10-2, in bone-chilling temperatures. That included a nine-run eighth inning for Chicago, which gave the fans brave enough to venture to Wrigley something to truly remember.

View Full Game Coverage

Sub-30 degree wind chills, wind gusts over 25 mph and plenty of rain. That was just the start of a memorable day at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs scored 12 unanswered runs to shock the Braves with a 14-10 comeback victory Saturday after trailing, 10-2, in bone-chilling temperatures. That included a nine-run eighth inning for Chicago, which gave the fans brave enough to venture to Wrigley something to truly remember.

View Full Game Coverage

It was the Cubs' biggest comeback since they erased another eight-run deficit against the Nationals on July 7, 2011, in Washington. In that game, Chicago was down, 8-0, in the top of the sixth, and proceeded to score six run