Zobrist gives up spot in lineup to Bote only to return and play hero in marathon

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Chicago Cubs’ Ben Zobrist watches the flight of the ball as he hits an RBI double against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fifteenth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 28, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) ORG XMIT: AZRF219

PHOENIX — By the end of the longest game of the season for the Cubs on Sunday, the only question was whether Ben Zobrist did more for them before the game or at the end in driving home the go-ahead runs in the 15th inning in a 6-5 victory.

Zobrist approached manager Joe Maddon before the game to suggest that hot-hitting David Bote remain in the lineup Sunday after hitting two home runs Saturday, despite an advance schedule that had Zobrist starting and Bote on the bench.

Maddon accepted the “selfless” suggestion, and Zobrist wound up looking like an oracle — not to mention a late-inning hero.

“Frankly, there was a little tension in my competitive heart, but it was the right thing to do.’’ said Zobrist, who got a fist bump from Maddon after making the suggestion.

Bote doubled in his first at-bat, and looked sharp in the field at both third base and second as the Cubs extended their streak of series wins to six before opening a two-game set Tuesday in Seattle.

The 37-year-old Zobrist came off the bench defensively in extra innings and reached base all three trips to the plate, including a two-run double with one out in the 15th inning.

He then scored on Kris Bryant’s sacrifice fly to cap the rally started by pitcher Tyler Chatwood, who doubled with one out after recording the four outs that got the Cubs to the 15th with the score tied 3-3.

Chatwood reported a sore groin while running the bases. He stayed in long enough to jog home on Zobrist’s hit and will be re-evaluated before the game Tuesday.

Kyle Ryan gave up a pair of two-out runs in the bottom of the 15th before Allen Webster got the final out on a drive to the wall in left that Zobrist caught to prevent extra bases.

“It was nerve-racking for a little bit,’’ Zobrist said. “I thought ‘Oh, no’ for just a second there. It was just one of those days.’’

‘‘You can slice that any way you want, we won,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘I liked the energy all day long.’’

Designated Schwarber

With the Cubs playing their second series of the season in an American League park starting Tuesday, Maddon said Kyle Schwarber will be his designated hitter against Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.

Maddon hasn’t decided on a DH against lefty Marco Gonzales in Wednesday’s finale. Zobrist was his DH against a left-hander when the Cubs played at Texas in their other AL road series.


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Schwarber, who has been in a slump, has four hits and a walk in his last seven plate appearances. He had 10 hits and six walks in his previous 70.

Montgomery update

In his third minor-league rehab start, left-hander Mike Montgomery (lat strain) allowed a pair of third-inning runs in a four-inning start for Class AAA Iowa.

He struck out five and gave up two hits and two walks. The Cubs plan to evaluate Montgomery in the next day or two to determine his next step.

“We want to make sure he’s healthy,” Maddon said.

The Cubs, who have only one left-hander in their bullpen, could stay with that configuration until at least the May 10-12 series against the Brewers before matchups create a bigger need for another lefty.

This and that

Third-base coach Brian Butterfield had improved overnight after another bout with vertigo, but missed Sunday’s game. He’s expected to travel with the team to Seattle and anticipates to return Tuesday. With Butterfield out, first-base coach Will Venable moved over to third, and quality-assurance coach Chris Denorfia took over at first.

• Pitching matchups for the two-game series in Seattle: Cole Hamels (3-0, 3.16 ERA) vs. Hernandez (1-2, 3.91) on Tuesday night, Jon Lester (1-1, 2.37) vs. Gonzales (5-0, 2.80) on Wednesday.

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