CHICAGO -- Willson Contreras belted a tying home run leading off the seventh and Javier Baez scored the go-ahead run on an error by Padres left fielder Jose Pirela to lift the Cubs to a 3-2 victory on Monday night.
There may be some bad feelings between the two teams after a play in the sixth when Anthony Rizzocollided with Padres catcher Austin Hedges at the plate. Rizzo was trying to score from third on a fly ball by Kristopher Bryant to center but Matthew Szczur made a perfect throw home. Hedges had to leave the game with a bruised right thigh. Afterward, Padres manager Andy Green was none too pleased with what he considered "a cheap shot" on his starting catcher.
"For me, the whole point of the rule is to protect my catcher, not to necessarily get a call right on safe or out," Green said. "When Austin Hedges' health is put in jeopardy because someone took a shot at him when he's not expecting it at all, that's a problem."
The Cubs had a different view.
"By no means do I think that's a dirty play at all," Rizzo said. "I went pretty much straight in. He caught the ball and went towards the plate. It was a hard slide. I play this game hard for 162 games plus every day. I pride myself on it, running the bases hard, doing everything hard. I can't see that being dirty."
Padres starter Clayton Richard will get his World Series ring on Tuesday from his former team, but he couldn't get the win. He served up Contreras' homer in the seventh, which tied the score at 2. One out later, Richard was replaced by Kirby Yates, and Baez greeted him with a single. Albert Almora Jr. then doubled to left and Pirela bobbled the ball for an error, allowing Baez to score. It was a great way for Contreras to commemorate the one-year anniversary of his first hit: On June 19, 2016, he homered in his first MLB at-bat in the sixth inning.
"The sky's the limit for this kid," Cubs starter Jonathan Lester said. "He's stuck with me and I'm stuck with him for the next three or four years, so hopefully he keeps getting better."
Lester gave up solo home runs to Pirela, who led off the game with a blast on the lefty's third pitch, and to Yangervis Solarte in the third. Lester threw 71 pitches over three innings, and exited after 111 pitches over six.
"There's a lot of power in that lineup, but there's a lot of swings and misses as well," Lester said of the Padres. "You've got to try to make good pitches that aren't cookies for them. That's what makes it hard -- you make your pitch and it gets fouled off."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Leadoff man: With the Padres employing a defensive shift, Rizzo laid down a perfect bunt along the third-base line to lead off the Cubs' first. The single extended Rizzo's hitting streak to a career-high 13 games, and also maintained his perfect streak leading off games. In the six games he's been in the No. 1 spot, Rizzo has yet to make an out leading off the first. So far, he's hit two homers, a double, two singles and drawn a walk. Rizzo delivered a sacrifice fly in the third on Monday.
"It's working," Rizzo said. "I want to keep everyone loose. Starting the game with a bunt, it's not your prototypical leadoff for the game. We just need to win games. We need to keep trying to claw away and find ways to win."
Rizzo is the fifth Cubs player to reach base to lead off a game in six straight games since 1946 and first to do so since William Fowler in 2016. According to Elias, among players to debut in the expansion era (1961-present), Rizzo is the only player to reach in his first plate appearance in each of the first six games that he started in the leadoff spot.
"His at-bats, the triple, the play at the plate, his defense -- everything he's doing, he's outstanding," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's definitely set the tone for our entire team."
Big moment: With one out in the ninth, Cubs closer Wade Davis hit Pirela and then walked Solarte. Both moved up on a wild pitch. But Davis was able to strike out William Myers -- which Maddon felt was the biggest at-bat of the game -- and then Hunter Renfroe grounded out to end the game. Davis has converted his last 14 save opportunities, the longest streak in Cubs history to begin a season since the save was adopted in 1969.
"I knew [Davis] could do what he did against [Myers] if he got ahead in the count," Maddon said.
It was the first showdown between Myers and Davis, who were a part of the December 2012 blockbuster trade that sent Myers to the Rays and Davis and James Shields to the Royals. Davis won the battle, punctuating the at-bat with a high fastball.
"Wade Davis is one of the best," Green said. " ... He executed that pitch, and we chased."
Solarte has been on a tear at the plate, but he had done almost all of his damage from the left side. Not on Monday. Solarte's third-inning homer off Lester was his first extra-base hit of the season swinging right-handed. (He has 18 from the left side). Later, Solarte doubled off Lester, going 2-for-4 and extending his on-base streak to 12 games.
Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber exited after six innings because of swelling on his right ankle. He fouled a ball off the ankle in the fourth inning. X-rays were negative.
Padres: Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin's home/road splits are some of the starkest in baseball. He has posted a 1.72 ERA at Petco Park, compared with a 10.27 mark on the road. On Tuesday, he'll face the Cubs at 5:05 p.m. PT in his first start away from San Diego this month.
Cubs: Left-hander Mike Montgomery will make his third start of the season on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. CT, as he continues to sub for Kyle Hendricks. In his last start against the Mets, Montgomery gave up three runs over five innings. He owns a 3.51 ERA in seven career starts with the Cubs.
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