Anthony Rizzo celebrates in the dugout after his lead-off home run against San Diego Padres starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Rizzo leads off with homer, sparks Cubs to 4-0 victory over Padres

SHARE Rizzo leads off with homer, sparks Cubs to 4-0 victory over Padres
SHARE Rizzo leads off with homer, sparks Cubs to 4-0 victory over Padres

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo can say with relative certainty that his teammates have grown tired of his chirping.

It’s all in good fun, mind you. But considering how the legend of Rizzo as a leadoff hitter continues to pick up steam, he’s not about to stop talking now — especially not when he keeps backing it up.

‘‘I’m constantly in their ears, nonstop,’’ Rizzo said after hitting a home run to lead off the Cubs’ first inning in their 4-0 victory Tuesday against the Padres. ‘‘[I’m] telling them, ‘Make sure you don’t miss it,’ ‘It’s going to be 1-0’ or ‘Watch this one.’ But it’s all in good fun, and [I’m] having fun with it.’’

Since being moved into the leadoff spot last week, Rizzo’s opening act has become a main attraction. With his homer against Jhoulys Chacin, Rizzo — who went 1-for-3 with a walk — extended his streak of reaching safely leading off the first to seven games. That matched a Cubs record the team said dates at least to 1946 and equaled a feat Richie Ashburn pulled off in 1960.

According to STATS, Rizzo is the only player in the majors to reach base in his first seven career at-bats leading off the first since at least 1974. But Rizzo being mentioned in the same breath as Ashburn impressed Maddon.

‘‘Whenever you have your name on a board with Richie Ashburn, that’s pretty significant,’’ Maddon said.

Asked whether he had heard of Ashburn, Rizzo smiled.

‘‘I wish I could say I have,’’ he said.

The homer added to what already had been an eventful day for Rizzo. Earlier, he was found to be in violation of Major League Baseball’s rule on collisions after he barreled over Padres catcher Austin Hedges on Monday. The collision, which was characterized as a ‘‘cheap shot’’ by Padres manager Andy Green and was lauded as a ‘‘good baseball play’’ by Maddon, sparked an immediate firestorm.

But after speaking with MLB disciplinarian Joe Torre, Rizzo was informed he won’t be punished for a play he said he made on instinct and without malice.

According to MLB, Rizzo violated Rule 7.13, which states ‘‘a runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate).’’

General manager Jed Hoyer agreed Rizzo had deviated ‘‘a little bit toward the catcher,’’ and Rizzo was glad to have closure sooner rather than later — and without further consequence.

‘‘It’s over with now,’’ he said.

But whether the Padres considered the matter closed wasn’t certain. Rizzo stepped to the plate in the first not knowing what was coming. Asked before the game if he thought the Padres would seek retribution for the collision, he said he couldn’t control that.

Instead, Rizzo deposited Chacin’s second pitch into the center-field shrubbery.

‘‘They hit me today, then it causes a bigger controversy,’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘It’s one of those things that’s definitely not in my mind if they’re going to get hit and I’m going to get hit. Just play the game.’’

Follow me on Twitter @JeffArnold_.


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