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Raking Rizzo in middle of it all in win vs. Phils

Cubs, Chatwood see positives in 4 2/3-inning start despite unsightly line
June 7, 2018

CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo is on a roll, hitting his second homer in as many games, and Tyler Chatwood is trending in the right direction, even if his numbers didn't look too good.Rizzo slugged his 10th homer in the Cubs' 4-3 victory over the Phillies on Thursday at Wrigley Field.

CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo is on a roll, hitting his second homer in as many games, and Tyler Chatwood is trending in the right direction, even if his numbers didn't look too good.
Rizzo slugged his 10th homer in the Cubs' 4-3 victory over the Phillies on Thursday at Wrigley Field. He connected in the fourth inning and added a sacrifice fly in the three-run fifth, although the latter play needed a video review for confirmation.
Rizzo was batting .149 on April 30, but since then he's hitting .317 with nine homers and 33 RBIs.
"I've felt good for a little while," Rizzo said. "It's a matter of staying with the routine and staying with the process. It's a game of 700 at-bats, and you always have to remember that."

Rizzo needed the video review for his second RBI of the game. With the game tied at 1 in the fifth against Nick Pivetta, the Cubs loaded the bases. Thomas La Stella and Kristopher Bryant then each hit RBI singles for a 3-1 lead. Albert Almora Jr. tried to score from third on Rizzo's fly ball to left and was originally called out by home-plate umpire Nick Mahrley, but the Cubs challenged the ruling, saying Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp had illegally blocked the plate. After a review, the call was overturned.

"I thought it was a great play," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the Phillies. "They made a great play -- great throw, great tag by the catcher. I thought technically, he did a great job. Fortunately, the rule permitted the run and we'll take it."
Chatwood continued to struggle with his command, walking seven over 4 2/3 innings. It's the eighth time in 12 starts that he's walked at least five and the right-hander now has issued a Major League-leading 56 free passes over 58 1/3 innings.
"Today is the best I've felt for a while," Chatwood said. "Obviously, I walked way too many guys. It's a step in the right direction even though it didn't look like it."

Chatwood made some changes in his delivery in his previous outing and carried that over into Thursday's game.
"His stuff was a little more crisp, a little more sharp execution-wise," said catcher Chris Gimenez, who has caught Chatwood in back-to-back starts. "He did a good job battling. He's so worried about trying to execute to the most perfect intent as opposed to really pound the zone. That's what we've been trying to get in his head a little more. Throw the ball on the white and you can expand off it."
Maddon sees plenty of positives.
"We have two options -- keep working on it or not, and we're going to keep working on it," Maddon said. "I thought he looked better. I liked the abbreviated windup out of the stretch. I know he went 4 2/3 [innings] and that doesn't look good, and I know he walked seven and that doesn't look good. I'm not here to make excuses for him at all. I'm just telling you I thought it was a cleaner delivery."

Rizzo keeps raking: Rizzo gave the Cubs an early lead with one out in the fourth when he launched a 2-0 pitch from Pivetta to right for his 10th home run. It also was his 175th home run with the Cubs, breaking a tie with Andre Dawson and giving Rizzo sole possession of 13th place on the franchise's all-time list. Rizzo now has 19 RBIs in his past 18 games.
"They've been trying to pitch him a certain way and he's getting to it," Maddon said. "He's really smart. He hits balls [to right], but normally his home runs to me are gap to gap. He's just getting his hands through on the barrel to the ball really well. ... He's been trending pretty good over the last month and a half."

Payback: Scott Kingery hit a two-run double off Brian Duensing with one out in the sixth to pull Philadelphia within 4-3, and one out later, Maddon called on Steve Cishek to face Aaron Altherr for a second straight day. On Wednesday, Altherr hit three-run homer off Cishek. On Thursday, Cishek struck out Altherr looking on a 78-mph slider.
"I love that it [worked out that way]," Maddon said.
La Stella reached base twice for the Cubs on catcher's interference calls against Knapp, doing so in the first and the eighth innings. The Cubs haven't drawn two catcher's interference calls twice in a game, much less by the same player. The last time it happened twice in a game was April 28, 2017, when the Astros' Josh Reddick did so against the Athletics. La Stella has reached on catcher's interference six times in his Chicago career, which is double the total of any Cubs player dating back to 1925.

Carlos Santana led off the Phillies' ninth with a 102.5-mph laser shot right at Cubs closer Brandon Morrow, who stuck his glove out in time to catch the ball. Rizzo immediately went over to check on Morrow, who finished the inning for his 15th save.
"They're pitchers for a reason -- they're not athletes," Rizzo said jokingly. "I was like, 'Your heart has to be racing.' It was a big save for him."

"We come in, we battle. [Wednesday] was a special moment at Wrigley for the whole team and all of Chicago. We're going in the right direction. We just have to keep playing baseball." -- Rizzo, on the Cubs' recent success, including Wednesday's walk-off win against the Phillies
Almora and the Cubs were understanding of Knapp's dilemma after the Cubs' challenge in the fifth overturned the out at home.
"It's a tough situation for both guys," Almora said. "... I don't want to be a dirty player. He wants to prevent a run. It's tough."
Gimenez had a special appreciation for the bang-bang nature of the play, saying: "I actually told [Knapp] that I thought it was a great play. I'm partial to the whole thing being a catcher, but to me that's a baseball play. Thankfully, today it worked out in our favor."

Mike Montgomery will open the weekend series against the Pirates. The lefty is staying in the rotation as long as Yu Darvish is on the disabled list with inflammation in his right triceps. Montgomery has been stellar in his two starts, giving up one earned run over 11 2/3 innings while striking out nine. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT from Wrigley Field, and right-hander Chad Kuhl will start for the Pirates.

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