CHICAGO -- Joe Maddon likes aggressive play, and the Cubs manager backed Albert Almora Jr.'s decision to try to advance in the ninth inning on Monday, although the rookie outfielder felt as if he'd cost the team the game in the Cardinals' 3-2 victory at Wrigley Field.Chicago trailed 3-2 in
CHICAGO -- Joe Maddon likes aggressive play, and the Cubs manager backed Albert Almora Jr.'s decision to try to advance in the ninth inning on Monday, although the rookie outfielder felt as if he'd cost the team the game in the Cardinals' 3-2 victory at Wrigley Field.
Chicago trailed 3-2 in the ninth against St. Louis and closer Trevor Rosenthal, who had given up four runs in his two previous outings. With one out, Almora doubled and pinch-hitter Chris Coghlan was hit by a pitch. On the first pitch to Ben Zobrist, the ball caromed off home plate umpire Pat Hoberg's foot and Almora tried to advance to third. But veteran catcher Yadier Molina retrieved it in time to throw Almora out at third.
"I think we got lucky there," Rosenthal said. "Looking back at it, the umpire helped us out, but the other part about [Molina's] game is his arm. He's got an amazing arm. He always makes accurate throws, and when I saw that, I thought we had a good chance for him to throw [Almora] out there at third."
Zobrist did single, but Jason Heyward then popped up to second baseman Matt Carpenter to end the game. Maddon defended Almora's play.
"I have no problem with Albert," Maddon said. "Molina made a really good play, and they made a good tag. I never want to coach the aggressiveness out of that young man. I think he's been playing great. They made a good play. His judgment might have been impacted by the fact the ball hit the umpire in the foot."
Almora was trying to make something happen.
"My instincts are, I have my secondary [lead] and I took off as soon as I saw it go by," Almora said. "It hit the umpire, and Yadi is one of the best in the game, and he threw me out.
"I'm an aggressive player. ... I feel like I let my team down. It's a tough one to swallow."
The Cubs made two solid defensive plays in the top of the ninth. Rookie Willson Contreras, making his first Major League start at catcher, threw out Carpenter trying to steal, and then left fielder Kris Bryant, shortstop Addison Russell and Contreras combined on a precise relay to get Aledmys Diaz at home when he tried to score on pinch-hitter Jedd Gyorko's double.
"[Bryant] off the wall -- perfect relay throw," Maddon said. "There's nothing to complain about. They beat us, 3-2. I'll take that game every night. We'll win a lot of those."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.