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Ross pitches perfect ninth, homers for Cubs

Backup catcher gives bullpen a break in second career appearance on mound

CHICAGO -- There are two baseballs in their own glass cases on the top shelf of catcher David Ross' locker. One came after he threw a perfect eighth inning on May 9 against the Brewers. The other was waiting on his chair when he arrived in the Cubs' clubhouse on Sunday.

For the second time this season, Ross threw a perfect inning of relief, this one in the ninth inning of an 11-5 loss to the Phillies. But this time, Ross added a home run in the same frame.

Ross became the first position player in the club's history to make multiple pitching appearances since Doug Dascenzo did so in 1991.

"I don't really want to be out there, first of all," Ross said. "It doesn't mean a whole lot to me other than it was a lot of fun. It helped our bullpen save an inning down there and put a smile on a couple guys' faces, as well as mine."

The 38-year old Ross pitched for the first time in his career at Milwaukee as the Cubs trailed, 12-4, in the eighth inning. This time, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he offered Ross the chance to make his "home debut."

Ross wasn't going to wow scouts with his performance just because of his numbers, though. He threw eight pitches -- each one a fastball -- topping out at 72 mph.

Ross forced a flyout to left field -- where catcher Kyle Schwarber played for the last inning -- and then got the next two batters to ground out.

"My goal was to throw it right down the middle and then see how fast," Ross said. "I know how hard [hitting] is, judging from my batting average, so I just try to throw it and see if they hit it at somebody."

Ross followed his appearance on the mound by crushing a hanging slider on a 2-2 count to left field for his first home run of the season.

"It was good to lighten the mood there at the end because nobody was feeling good about today," Maddon said.

After the game, Ross' phone lit up with messages as he talked to the media. Fans chanted "M-V-P" afterward for the 13-year old veteran, and even his teammates were impressed in an otherwise rough game.

"How about David Ross?" starter Jason Hammel said to open his media session. "He's a pretty good ballplayer."

Greg Garno is an associate reporter for
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