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Rizzo, like team, searching for success at plate

ATLANTA -- After four games, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo had one hit, and that was a home run in his first at-bat of the season on the first pitch.

Since then, he had gone 0-for-11, entering Saturday's game against the Braves. He wasn't alone. The Cubs were batting .133 as a team before Saturday.

"That's baseball," Rizzo said. "It's four games. Hitting is contagious. Once someone gets going, I'm sure everyone will get going.

"It's four games out of 162," he said. "I'm sure guys will go and have worse stretches than this in their careers over time. This is baseball. We're due for an explosive day."

The Cubs did just that on Saturday, pounding 13 hits off the Braves in a 6-5 loss. Rizzo picked up his second hit and second home run in the fifth inning, and also singled with one out in the seventh.

However, Cubs manager Dale Sveum did see something else in Rizzo's approach. The first baseman may be thinking too much.

"I said it early in camp, when somebody asked about the adjustments he has to make and what he has to get better at," Sveum said Saturday. "I think what he's doing now is what he did in that one stretch where he struggled [last year]. He starts analyzing and thinking too much about what the pitcher is going to do to him, instead of getting a good pitch to hit and being ready to do that instead of always trying to guess along with each pitch."

On Friday, Rizzo struck out three times, and all three were on off-speed pitches.

"They're hitting their spots, pitchers are making their pitches," Rizzo said. "You tip your hat. Our job is to hit the ball over the middle of the plate, not their best pitch."

Rizzo, who batted .285 in 87 games last season after he was called up in late June, said it's encouraging that the team is 2-2, considering the offensive struggles.

"If our pitching stays the way it is now, the bats will come around," Rizzo said. "You get hot streaks, cold spells. To be 2-2 is good, and we have to take advantage of our record now and our pitching and score some runs.

"Obviously, as a team, we'd like to be getting more hits, more situational hits," he said. "We can hit .200 as a team, but if we get those big hits ... I'm pretty sure that's how the A's did it last year, they had big hits at big times."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.
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