PHOENIX -- Even when Kristopher Bryant wasn't hitting home runs, Javier Baez felt better about having him back in the Cubs lineup."I think just having him in the lineup changes the way the other team has to pitch to us," Baez said of Bryant, who was sidelined with a shoulder
PHOENIX -- Even when Kristopher Bryant wasn't hitting home runs, Javier Baez felt better about having him back in the Cubs lineup.
"I think just having him in the lineup changes the way the other team has to pitch to us," Baez said of Bryant, who was sidelined with a shoulder injury all of August. "They either are going to pick him or [Anthony Rizzo] or me or [Ben Zobrist] or whoever is in between. We have to play as a team. If we play as a team, nobody can beat us."
On Monday night, Baez and Bryant both delivered, hitting two-run homers to back Kyle Hendricks in the Cubs' 5-1 victory over the D-backs at Chase Field.
"It's just a matter of time, just like you saw today," Hendricks said of the Cubs' offense, which has sputtered lately. "We just have to try to keep our team in the ballgame and then they'll come through."
Hendricks gave up three hits over 8 2/3 innings to help the Cubs maintain a 2 1/2-game lead in the National League Central over the Brewers, who beat the Reds, 8-0, in Milwaukee.
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Arizona starter Patrick Corbin didn't make it easy on the Cubs. When they faced the lefty on July 23 at Wrigley Field, he struck out nine over seven innings. Corbin picked up where he left off, striking out seven while taking a shutout into the sixth before Baez's homer led a three-run frame that ended Corbin's night.
The Cubs came into the game having scored one run vs. the Reds in each of their last two games. Baez had been in a mini funk with three RBIs in his last 13 games. His home run with one out in the sixth raised his season total to an NL-leading 105 RBIs.
If you watched Baez homer, you could tell he was talking to himself.
"I'm just playing the game with passion," Baez said. "I was talking to myself, honestly. I just said, 'Hit the fricking pitch. Hit that fricking pitch.' I was sitting on it.
"The first at-bat, I knew he was going to throw [a slider] to me, 3-2. I was trying to get that walk right there, but I swung and [struck out]. I was just mad, and then the next at-bat, I rolled over the pitch I hit, a fastball. I was really mad at myself that I wasn't making adjustments."
Baez got revenge in his third at-bat, hitting his 32nd home run on an 80.7-mph slider.
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Bryant, who was activated off the disabled list on Sept. 1, had not homered since July 20 when he launched an 0-1 pitch from Randall Delgado with one on in the eighth for his 12th home run.
"He clicked it to the right side," manager Joe Maddon said of Bryant's opposite-field shot. "When we first saw him several years ago, that's who he was. It's always about feel, so hopefully he gains some feel from that. Before that, the line drive was properly struck, too."
Monday was Day 28 of the Cubs' extended stretch of 30 days in a row with a game scheduled. They're 17-10, and nobody has complained of fatigue.
"At this point, it's kind of normal," Hendricks said. "We just know we're playing every day. That's all there is to it. We gained a couple hours coming here, almost felt like half an off-day from yesterday to today."
"You don't get a do-over," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "We're going to play a quarter of our season with one off-day. It will be something nice to overcome."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Maddon lifted Hendricks after Paul Goldschmidt singled with two outs in the ninth. Justin Wilson threw one pitch to Daniel Descalso, then catcher Willson Contreras fired to shortstop Addison Russell to catch Goldschmidt attempting to steal second base, ending the game.
"We were very pitch efficient out of the bullpen once again," Maddon said. "The boys conjured that up on the mound themselves. I was not part of that. Give them credit."
Goldschmidt realized the trap too late.
"They weren't holding me on, obviously, and just was going to go into second," Goldschmidt said. "I think they knew what I was going to do, set me up and the guy was quick to home and Contreras can throw as good as anyone and they got me right there. It was a good play by them and a mistake on my part, 100 percent, and I'll be ready for it the next time, hopefully."
HE SAID IT
"I used to get nervous. With this year that I've been having and the goals that I was looking forward to, getting the Gold Glove and 30 homers and 100 RBIs, it kind of slowed me down a little bit. When they're yelling 'M-V-P' now, it doesn't speed me up like it used to do. I help my team a lot -- that's what counts, really." -- Baez, on hearing Cubs fans at Chase Field chanting M-V-P when he was at the plate
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Albert Almora Jr. singled to open the sixth, the first time the Cubs had a leadoff batter reach. He advanced to third on Bryant's single and scored when Rizzo hit a grounder to second baseman Descalso, who flipped to shortstop Nick Ahmed for a 4-6-3 double play. The Cubs challenged, believing Rizzo had beat the throw to first, and the call was overturned after review. That set up Baez's blast, which opened a 3-0 lead.
Rizzo's hustle did not go unnoticed.
"That goes underrated all the time -- when a guy beats out the backside of a double play and then the home run ensues," Maddon said.
Mike Montgomery (4-5, 3.87 ERA) will make his 17th start of the season on Tuesday in the second game of this three-game series in the desert. Montgomery, who is 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA as a starter, has not pitched beyond 4 1/3 innings since Aug. 7. Arizona will counter with right-hander Matt Andriese (3-5, 4.76) in the 8:40 p.m. CT matchup at Chase Field.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.