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Puttin' on the Rizz: Cubs star caps epic night

After leading his team in banner-raising and carrying WS trophy, Rizzo wins home opener with walk-off
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- He was first to pull the rope to raise the World Series championship banner, and then carried the trophy symbolizing the Cubs' historic win across the field. Anthony Rizzo had to fight back tears during the pregame ceremony, then couldn't stop smiling as he capped an amazing night by delivering a walk-off RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning for a 3-2 win over the Dodgers.

"I'll remember this day for as long as I play baseball," Rizzo said.

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CHICAGO -- He was first to pull the rope to raise the World Series championship banner, and then carried the trophy symbolizing the Cubs' historic win across the field. Anthony Rizzo had to fight back tears during the pregame ceremony, then couldn't stop smiling as he capped an amazing night by delivering a walk-off RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning for a 3-2 win over the Dodgers.

"I'll remember this day for as long as I play baseball," Rizzo said.

View Full Game Coverage

Monday was the first time the Cubs were back at Wrigley Field since Game 5 of the World Series against the Indians. The team raised four banners to signify its championship seasons in 1907, 1908 and last year, as well as a flag for the 2016 National League pennant. Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams handled three of the flags, but Rizzo and the Cubs players took turns hoisting the World Series banner.

Gold Cubs, Gold! W flies, now bring on rings

"I told the boys, I was going to punt tonight and watch the game from center field -- what a view," Rizzo said. "I've been up there, but with all the fans, there's a lot of energy. You see Ryno and Fergie and Billy raise the previous championships and the pennant, and to be up there and raise ours, that banner, it's history forever."

The Dodgers nearly spoiled the party by tying the game at 2 in the eighth. In the Chicago ninth against Sergio Romo, pinch-hitter Jon Jay singled and advanced on a ground out. Kenley Jansen took over and struck out Kris Bryant. Jay stole third on the third strike, and Rizzo then slapped a single to left for the game-winner.

Video: LAD@CHC: Rizzo drives a walk-off RBI single to left

"I executed my pitch, he fought it off; he was strong enough, and he put it in play," Jansen said. "How many times you gonna see him do that? Not a lot."

"Anthony really worked a veteran, mature at-bat against Jansen," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "If you just try to attempt to do what you normally do against that fellow, he's going to eat you alive. [Rizzo] stayed inside the ball, hit the ball the other way, didn't try to pull it, got the fatter part of the bat on the ball."

It was Rizzo's first RBI of the season, and his sixth career walk-off RBI. Good timing.

"Those guys aren't going to finish with one RBI -- same with Kris and a couple guys who are struggling," Chicago starter Jon Lester said. "Everybody is trying to get off to a good start and play well, but at the end of the day a win's a win."

For some of the Cubs players, the banner-raising ceremony marked the first time they'd ever been in the bleachers. Rizzo led them back onto the field, carrying the championship trophy.

Video: LAD@CHC: Cubs celebrate 2016 World Series victory

"When we came back through with the trophy, I told myself, 'You have to look around just to see everybody's reaction,'" outfielder Jason Heyward said. "Those are moments you'll never get back. It was really special."

So special, that Rizzo said he was "fighting back tears a lot."

"That pregame ceremony, I wasn't expecting to get hit with that many emotions, it was crazy," Rizzo said.

And historic. In case you missed it, the 2016 World Series championship was the Cubs' first in 108 years.

"Being able to do that -- we're the only people alive to have ever done that," Rizzo said.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Chicago Cubs, Anthony Rizzo