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Zobrist delivers long-awaited XBH with RISP

Despite strong power numbers, Cubs had struggled to get big hits with runners on
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Cubs had been hard pressed for extra-base hits with runners in scoring position, but on Friday, Ben Zobrist came through with a go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh inning of their 6-2 win over the Giants.

Entering the game, 79 percent of the Cubs' extra-base hits in May had come with nobody in scoring position. For a club that boasted the National League's third-best slugging percentage this month heading into Friday, the lack of power with RISP was cause for some concern from both Cubs manager Joe Maddon and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.

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CHICAGO -- The Cubs had been hard pressed for extra-base hits with runners in scoring position, but on Friday, Ben Zobrist came through with a go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh inning of their 6-2 win over the Giants.

Entering the game, 79 percent of the Cubs' extra-base hits in May had come with nobody in scoring position. For a club that boasted the National League's third-best slugging percentage this month heading into Friday, the lack of power with RISP was cause for some concern from both Cubs manager Joe Maddon and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.

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"We're not getting the bang for our buck," Epstein said before the game. "A lot of our extra-base hits and home runs are with nobody on base. We're not performing at the same level with guys in scoring position. It should all even out."

One clutch double with RISP is far from evening it out, but it could help get the Cubs going in the right direction.

Zobrist, specifically, had not had an extra-base hit in any of his 29 plate appearances this season with RISP, though he had just seven extra-base hits all season before his go-ahead double.

"The pitchers pitch you a little bit different [with RISP]," Zobrist said. "We have to grow as a team in regard to how we approach those situations."

Video: SF@CHC: Zobrist on clutch hitting approach

Maddon said before the game that pitchers tend to throw more offspeed pitches and breaking balls when there are RISP, which can make it harder to record extra-base hits. Zobrist was waiting for a curveball in his at-bat against reliever Will Smith. He got it on the first pitch, and ripped it into the left-field corner.

"Pretty nice day for [Zobrist]," Maddon said. "Hanging curveball, left-field corner, that was very large."

However, Zobrist said extra-base hits aren't the greatest concern for hitters when they come up with RISP, especially when the bases are loaded in a tie game, which was the case for him on Friday.

"In a game like that, you just want to get one in," Zobrist said. "If you can get two, great, even better. If you can hit an extra-base hit and get yourself in scoring position and you take the double play out of play, even better. But you start with just do the job and keep it simple."

A double there did help push two additional runs across, as he and Tommy La Stella were both in scoring position when Kris Bryant lifted a two-out single to give the Cubs a four-run cushion going into the eighth.

Matt Martell is reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago Cubs, Ben Zobrist