Javy Baez fire and offensive ice for Cubs in extra-inning loss to Phillies

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Baez greets Anthony Rizzo at the plate after his fifth-inning homer put the Cubs ahead 1-0 Friday night.

PHILADELPHIA — If it looked like the September pennant chase started a day early, maybe that’s because tempers flared from the start Friday.

Or because two teams in a congested field of National League contenders scratched into the 10th inning before Asdrubal Cabrera’s one-out homer off Steve Cishek gave the Phillies a 2-1 victory over the Cubs in the opener of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park.

Just like that, the Cubs’ lead in the NL Central shrunk to 3½ games over the Cardinals, while the Phillies have made up 2½ games on NL East-leading Atlanta in three days to close to just two games back.

Bring on the final month of a thrilling 2018 season in the National League.

Bring on Kris Bryant and Addison Russell, back from the Cubs’ disabled list Saturday as rosters expand.

And bring some popcorn.

“It’s going to be a tough month, getting through this stretch especially,” manager Joe Maddon said.

Friday marked the third game in three days and three cities for the Cubs.

On a day Jason Heyward was put on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, the Cubs squandered plenty of chances to score, including one in the third inning when they loaded the bases with one out for two of their hottest hitters: Anthony Rizzo (strikeout) and Ben Zobrist (groundout).

And Tommy La Stella no sooner set the Cubs’ franchise record with his 21st pinch hit leading off the seventh than he ran the Cubs out of the inning three batters later when Javy Baez’s line drive to right turned into an inning-ending double play because La Stella was already around third — and was easily doubled off at second.

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“You can’t get too crazy about it,” Maddon said. “The guys are going through a tough stretch.”

That includes nine more games in three cities before returning home. It includes three in Milwaukee against a team that just bolstered its roster with trades Friday for starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez and outfielder Curtis Granderson.

At least Baez was around long enough to provide the Cubs’ only run with a homer in the fifth.

That looked in serious doubt two batters into the game when he jawed with home-plate umpire Joe West as he headed to the dugout following a called strike on a 3-2 count.

“I didn’t think it was a good pitch, and it wasn’t,” said Baez, still visibly irritated after the game at what he considered disrespect from West. “We’re human. We struggle a lot in this sport. But we admit it to ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with asking or talking to umpires. And they need to start talking to us like humans because they’re not. And if anybody — doesn’t have to be them — doesn’t talk to me with respect I won’t talk to them with respect either.

<em>Jose Quintana was sharp in six innings for the Cubs, who have won 10 of 15 games behind the rotation’s 2.42 ERA in that span.</em>

Jose Quintana was sharp in six innings for the Cubs, who have won 10 of 15 games behind the rotation’s 2.42 ERA in that span.

“I didn’t say anything to him and he came to me like I said something to him. When somebody does that I can’t control my attitude. We’re human, too. We mess up, make the adjustment, that’s all we can do about it.”

When asked if he felt West provoked him, Baez said: “Just the attitude that he came to me, I didn’t like it. To me it doesn’t matter who’s doing it, he’s going to get it too. I’m not afraid to let anybody [know] that he’s doing something wrong. I was over it. And I’m over it [now].”

Baez said West didn’t say anything in subsequent at-bats.

“That’s good,” Baez said, “because obviously I didn’t want to talk to him.”

If the emotions continue into September the way they finished for the Cubs in August, buckle up.

They already were hot enough the last month for a fourth consecutive hot August — going 18-10 to gain 3½ games in the standings.

“I’ll take an 18-10 September,” Maddon said.


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