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Versatility win-win for player, manager, Maddon says

Cubs manager Joe Maddon has always been big on having a versatile roster, which is good not only for him but for the career of players who can move around, he said.

Mix and match, and everybody wins.

“It helps to understand that it provides more opportunity for them and going forward in their career it can make it better for you,’’ Maddon said. “It’s really nice to do those things with different players, to know you can do different things and know that you’re covered matters. When you talk in advance of [it], guys are pretty accepting of it.”

Javier Baez played third base for a second time, and Kris Bryant played left field Saturday. Baez played nine games for AAA Iowa at third this season and Bryan has played nine games in the outfield (120 at third base) including four in left. Bryant not only doesn’t mind playing the outfield, he likes it, Maddon said.

“A lot of it has to do with conversations early in the year,” Maddon said. “When you spring things on guys they normally don’t like that.’’

Starlin Castro, an All-Star shortstop, started at second base. Chris Coghlan, who had the day off, has played five positions.

In the ninth inning, Baez took over for Castro at second and Bryant moved to third where he started a double play on a tricky ground ball.

“KB had that wicked line drive or hard ground ball go through him the other day [in Wednesday’s loss to the Reds),’’ Maddon said. “To come back and make that play today is tremendous for his psyche.’’

Bear down

The Cubs (77-57) were 7 ½ games in front for the second wild card spot before Saturday’s game.

“It’s nice,” Maddon said.

But getting comfortable in that could be treacherous.

“That’s a product of a lot of good work to this point, but now you’re concerned about Saturday, and then you move on to Sunday,’’ Maddon said.

“If you start [to say] ‘Oh, we have this,’ no, it doesn’t work that way. And that’s the kind of thought process that can get you in trouble always. For me, I think we’ve done a lot of good work up to this point. Now we’ve got to continue it. A bunch of one-game winning streaks would be nice right now.”

Quality is job one

Jake Arrieta’s 15 consecutive quality starts are the most for a Cub since Lon Warneke had 17 straight in 1933.

“I don’t know how good I can be,’’ Arrieta said. “That’s what I’m trying to figure out. That’s why I do what I do every day between starts, to prepare myself as best as possible to go out and see what the results are. They’ve been good; there are things I can do better.’’

“Probably the most dominant guy we’ve faced all year,’’ Arizona manager Chip Hale said.

In brief

Maddon said “probably not” when asked about any possibility that Kyle Schwarber (rib) might be available for the series in St. Louis early next week.

*The Cubs have won 16 of their last 20 home games and have homered in 14 straight home games for the first time since 1991.

*Hector Rondon allowed two singles in the ninth, one of which sneaked under his glove, but picked up his 26th save in 30 chances.