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Pitchers' ivy snag, squeeze cap wild Cub W

July 31, 2016

CHICAGO -- It was all hands on deck for the Cubs on Sunday night as Jason Heyward scored on pinch-hitting pitcher Jon Lester's sacrifice hit in the 12th inning to post a zany, 7-6, come-from-behind Interleague victory over the Mariners, who blew a six-run lead.With the game tied at 6,

CHICAGO -- It was all hands on deck for the Cubs on Sunday night as Jason Heyward scored on pinch-hitting pitcher Jon Lester's sacrifice hit in the 12th inning to post a zany, 7-6, come-from-behind Interleague victory over the Mariners, who blew a six-run lead.
With the game tied at 6, Heyward hit a double into the right-center gap off Cody Martin, and then advanced on rookie Willson Contreras' fly ball out to center. Lester, pinch-hitting for pitcher Héctor Rondón, then dribbled a bunt in front of home plate for the game-winner.
"I wasn't thinking at all," Lester said. "There was no thinking at all. I was trying to pay attention and not miss any signs."

Why Lester?
"Jon's a really good bunter, he's really good at that," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who pushed all the right buttons.

The Cubs used 22 players, and one of the in-game highlights came in the sixth and seventh when pitcher Travis Wood moved from the mound to left -- where he made an ivy-crashing catch -- and back to the mound. Then came the ninth when Chicago tied the score at 6 with three runs off Steve Cishek on an RBI single by Ben Zobrist, a run-scoring fielder's choice by Contreras, and a wild pitch.
"Crazy game," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "But give them credit. They didn't quit, they kept battling back and they've done that a few times this year. It's disappointing. I thought we had the game in hand. We played pretty good, but the ninth inning got away from us."

It was an inauspicious debut for the Cubs' Brian Matusz, who served up two-run homers to Nelson Cruz, Robinson Canó and Dae-Ho Lee as Seattle opened a 6-0 lead after three innings. The Mariners faced him May 17, and probably knew Matusz better than his Cubs teammates.
There were some members of Félix Hernández's "King's Court" tucked into the left field corner of Wrigley Field among the crowd of 40,952, and the Mariners ace gave them a few thrills. He struck out eight but also walked five over five innings.
The Mariners fell to 52-51 with the loss, which was the first time they've blown a six-run lead since June 20, 2013 at Anaheim.
Good to see you again: Matusz's last Major League game was against the Mariners in relief on May 17 for the Orioles and he surrendered a three-run homer to Kyle Seager and two-run shot to Cruz in 1 2/3 innings. Cruz greeted him back to the big leagues with another two-run blast in the first -- projected at 413 feet by Statcast™ -- and Cano followed with a 393-foot line shot to right field in the second. Lee made it 6-0 with a two-run shot projected at 399 feet in the third. Cruz is now tied for fifth in the AL with 26 homers, while Cano has 23 and the rookie Lee has 13.

Start me up: The Cubs wanted to give their starters an extra day of rest, and they also had a contractual obligation to Matusz. Rather than lose him to free agency, he was added to the 25-man roster. Before the game, Maddon said he hoped to get five innings from the lefty, who was making his first big league start since July 1, 2012. He was pulled after serving up six runs over three innings.
"I wasn't able to get that feel," Matusz said. "I felt like I was digging myself out of a hole most of the game. It was a great comeback."

Lefty in left field: Wood finished the sixth, then was inserted into left field for the seventh while right-hander Pedro Strop took over on the mound. It's the second time Wood has been in the outfield -- also doing so on June 28 in Cincinnati -- but this time, he actually had a ball hit to him. Franklin Gutierrez launched a fly ball to left that Wood snared as he was backpedaling. He held on as he smacked into the ivy-covered wall, and got a standing ovation. More >
"Last time I went out there, I didn't get to make an out," Wood said. "I was hoping it would be less dramatic."

The King hangs on: The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, and Hernandez struck out Anthony Rizzo on a 91 mph fastball, but then walked Zobrist and hit Addison Russell with a pitch to force in two runs. Hernandez got of the inning by striking out Heyward to preserve a 6-2 lead and put him in position for his second win since coming off the disabled list after a seven-week stint with a strained calf. The Cubs were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position against Hernandez, who has held opposing hitters to a .154 average (12-for-78) with RISP on the season. More >
"I lost my command in the fifth," Hernandez said. "That was a changeup that was up [that hit Russell]. I was kind of rushing to the plate and I hit him. After that I came back and struck out Heyward."

"My stuff was terrible tonight. I had a hard time commanding my fastball, the slider was about the same and it got exposed. Two runs score, no big deal. But I go 0-2 and tried to do too much with a slider and threw it straight into the ground [on the wild pitch]. It's unacceptable." -- Cishek
"Joe does it again. You sit there sometimes and scratch your head and it seems to always work out." -- Lester on Maddon's moves that worked in the Cubs' favor

Cruz's home run off Matusz was his 27th off a left-hander since the start of 2015, which is the most in the Majors in that span. The next closest? Todd Frazier of the White Sox with 21.

In the Chicago ninth, Contreras hit a potential double play ball but was called safe at first. The Mariners challenged the ruling, and after a review, the call stood, and a run scored to pull the Cubs within one run at 6-5.

Mariners:James Paxton (3-5, 4.27 ERA) opens the 10-game homestand with a 7:10 p.m. PT start Monday against Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (2-4, 6.51). The 27-year-old southpaw threw eight shutout innings with five hits against Boston last year in a 5-0 win at Safeco Field.
Cubs: There's no place like Wrigley Field for Kyle Hendricks. He's 7-1 with a 1.36 ERA in 11 home starts, and will open the Cubs' series against the Marlins on Monday night. Hendricks ranks third in the National League in ERA at 2.39. First pitch will be 7:05 p.m. CT.
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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [

@GregJohnsMLB]() 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.