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J-Hey saves the day with tying, walk-off hits

September 4, 2016

CHICAGO -- Jason Heyward made up for an early error in the game and his early struggles this season when he hit a game-tying single in the ninth and a walk-off single with one out in the 13th inning on Sunday to lift the Cubs to a 3-2 victory over

CHICAGO -- Jason Heyward made up for an early error in the game and his early struggles this season when he hit a game-tying single in the ninth and a walk-off single with one out in the 13th inning on Sunday to lift the Cubs to a 3-2 victory over the Giants at Wrigley Field. Chicago took the series, 3-1, and all four games were decided by one run.
With the game tied in the 13th, Anthony Rizzo singled to lead off against lefty Matt Reynolds, and moved up on Ben Zobrist's groundout. Addison Russell was intentionally walked, and Heyward lofted a single to left-center for the game-winner.
This series between two contending clubs was a good learning experience for the young Cubs.
Post-break break start of J-Hey's turnaround
"We know what kind of intensity we have to have, what kind of poise we need, what kind of perseverance we need to play good games against teams like that, because it's not going to be a blowout," Heyward said. "When you play teams that are well balanced, well managed, you're going to need everything you can to do it right to have things go your way."

Said San Francisco starter Johnny Cueto, referring to the prospect of a Giants-Cubs postseason series: "That's when we're going to find out who really has the coconuts."
The Cubs tied the score at 2 in the ninth when Russell doubled, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Heyward's single. Chicago had runners at first and second with two outs, but Santiago Casilla got Dexter Fowler to fly out to left to end the threat. Heyward also hit an RBI single in the fourth to finish with a season-high three RBIs. This was his fourth career walk-off hit and first since Aug. 18, 2010.

The Cubs boast the best record in the Majors, and have trimmed their magic number to clinch the National League Central to 11. The Giants lead St. Louis by 1 1/2 games in the race for the NL's top Wild Card spot and trail the Dodgers by three games in the NL West.
"I'm good with how hard they played in this series," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of his ballclub.
Giants need to move past tough Cubs series
Freshly squeezed: Playing "little ball" once again, the Giants scored a fifth-inning run on a suicide squeeze by Ehire Adrianza, who tapped a bunt toward the pitcher's mound with Eduardo Núñez charging home from third base. Cubs right-hander John Lackey fielded the ball cleanly but had no time to try to retire Nunez. On Saturday, Brandon Crawford's pair of stolen bases generated the Giants' final run in a 3-2 victory.
Attempting the squeeze made sense for the Giants. First of all, Adrianza is a deft bunter, though Nunez jokingly said, "If he misses it, the catcher says, 'I got you.' Moreover, with the Giants struggling offensively, they had no choice but to try alternate means of scoring.
"That's what you do when you're not swinging the bats well," Bochy said. "You scratch and claw."

Opportunity knocks: Rizzo led off the Cubs' fourth with a single down the left-field line and moved up when Zobrist walked. Cueto got Russell to ground into a double play, but Rizzo advanced and scored on Heyward's single to left over leaping shortstop Adrianza, tying the score at 1. The Cubs made Cueto work in a 22-pitch sixth, but he got Heyward to fly out to end the inning, stranding two.

Belt's OK: Giants first baseman Brandon Belt was beaned by a Rob Zastryzny pitch leading off the seventh inning but remained in the game. Belt said that he passed a quick concussion protocol, which kept him on the field. "I feel 100 percent," Belt said, though he admitted that he initially felt "kind of stunned."
Concussions have been an issue for Belt. They sidelined him late in the 2014 and '15 seasons.
Welcome back: Lackey looked sharp in his first start since Aug. 14. He was on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain, and the plan was to limit him to 80-90 pitches, depending on the stress level of the innings. He was lifted after throwing 76 pitches over five innings, giving up one hit and striking out four. The Giants' first run came in the second when Hunter Pence reached second on Heyward's error, and eventually scored on a groundout.
Heyward went to Lackey in the dugout after the mistake and apologized. He didn't need to.
"He's played Gold Glove defense all year," Lackey said. "He's made a lot more plays than he's missed. I'll take that guy out there every day of the week, for sure."

"They were good games. As a baseball fan, they'd be fun to watch, for sure. Entertaining, for sure. … The playoffs are a little different. You feel those when you wake up." -- Lackey
Cubs pitchers gave up 14 hits in the four-game series, which ties a franchise record for the fewest allowed during a four-game set, set Aug. 26-29, 1934, against the New York Giants.
This was the Cubs' sixth walk-off win of the season, and five have come in the last 21 home games.
After not appearing in the first three games of the series, Aroldis Chapman pitched two innings in relief for the Cubs. The lefty gave up one hit, walked one and struck out four, including Belt on a 102-mph fastball to end the 11th and strand two baserunners. The four K's tied a season high. It was his third outing of at least two innings.
Giants: San Francisco's three-city, 10-game trip continues with the Labor Day opener of a three-game series against the Rockies. Giants left-hander Matt Moore will oppose Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis beginning at 1:10 p.m. PT.
Cubs:Kyle Hendricks, the NL Pitcher of the Month for August, will make his first start of September on Monday when the Cubs open a three-game series against the Brewers. Hendricks is 9-1 with a 1.27 ERA in his 14 outings (13 starts) since June 19, the best ERA in the Majors in that span. First pitch is scheduled for 12:10 p.m. CT from Miller Park.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

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