Cubs outfielder Tony Campana is still ready to take on Milwaukee Brewers counterpart Nyjer Morgan in a footrace.
‘‘Last year, Nyjer and I went back and forth about it,” Campana said. ‘‘He said we’d have to put something on it. I said, ‘Put your paycheck on it.’ He said his was bigger than mine and that wasn’t fair. I said, ‘Well, if you think you can beat me .â€‰.â€‰. ‘â€‰”
For now, Campana might have a lead in the race for the Cubs’ center-field job vacated when Marlon Byrd was traded Saturday to the Boston Red Sox. The speedster started Tuesday, batted second and was a prime factor in the Cubs’ second consecutive come-from-behind victory against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Campana scored the winning run in the 10th inning in the Cubs’ second 3-2 victory in as many nights. The result assured the Cubs of their first series victory of the season and the Cardinals of their first series loss.
‘‘With that kind of speed, it makes every pitcher nervous, and that’s good to have,” said outfielder Alfonso Soriano, whose two-out single against losing pitcher Fernando Salas (0-1) drove in Campana, who had singled and stolen second ahead of him.
It was Campana’s second stolen base of the game, and it was a close enough play that Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was ejected by umpire Bill Welke for his protests.
‘‘It was really close, but the umpire said I was safe,” a smiling Campana said.
The Cubs forced extra innings when Bryan LaHair led off the ninth with a home run against Marc Rzepczynski. It was the Cubs’ first homer in 10 games. LaHair and Ian Stewart hit the last ones April 13 against the Cardinals in St. Louis.
LaHair’s shot came after Matt Holliday had given the Cardinals a 2-1 lead with a two-run homer against Carlos Marmol with two outs in the eighth. That wiped out what had been a 1-0 Cubs lead for Jeff Samardzija.
Campana went 2-for-4 and is hitting .556 (5-for-9) since being recalled Saturday from Class AAA Iowa. Manager Dale Sveum batted him second and moved second baseman Darwin Barney to seventh to help the bottom of the order.
‘‘If he’s swinging the bat, it’s hard not to play him,” Sveum said of Campana. ‘‘He can do too many things. Pitchers make mistakes [when he’s on base].”
Campana lives for those moments.
‘‘I like to get reactions out of [pitchers], whether I’m at first or third,” he said. ‘‘I can sense when they’re starting to get frustrated. I know if they’re thinking about me, they might not be throwing as well to the hitter.”
Campana has played in four games since being recalled, starting two of them. He has reached base in all four games and is 4-for-4 on stolen-base attempts. When he singled and stole second in the third, he ended up at third because of catcher Yadier Molina’s errant throw.
Campana made his major-league debut last season and became a fan favorite by stealing 24 bases in 95 games. But he didn’t make the Opening Day roster this spring.
‘‘I didn’t do all that well this spring, and I knew I didn’t deserve it,” he said. ‘‘I had to go down and show what I could do. I was excited when I got the call.”
He is causing excitement, too, with the victory Tuesday reviving confidence throughout the Cubs’ clubhouse.
‘‘We’ve had some tough games, but the last two games have been great for the team,” Soriano said. ‘‘We have a young, talented team, so guys have to feel confident. It makes me feel young, too.”