Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo goes to the top again to break out of slump in San Diego
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SAN DIEGO — In an effort to yet again jump-start a slumping Anthony Rizzo, Cubs manager Joe Maddon put him in the leadoff spot Friday night.
And Rizzo again delivered.
The first baseman snapped an 0-for-21 skid by going 3-for-5 with two doubles, including a game-tying one in the ninth. The Cubs would go on to beat the Padres 5-4 in 10 innings after Javy Baez stole second and scored on a fielding error by center fielder Manuel Margot.
Last time around, on May 1, Rizzo responded with a homer leading off the game.
“I’ll do anything right now,” said Rizzo, whose last hit came seven days earlier. “I’m fighting myself at the plate, not feeling as comfortable as I usually am with my swing.
“I’m not usually the most mechanical person, but something is in there that isn’t firing the right way. And we’re just trying to figure it out every day.”
The last time Maddon put Rizzo in the leadoff spot, he went off on a two-month tear, hitting .287 with 11 homers, 30 walks, a .382 on-base percentage and a .510 slugging percentage over the next 55 games.
“He’s been struggling a bit. Clayton Richard kills lefties and throws only ground balls. So it made all the sense in the world,” Maddon joked about a lineup in which Rizzo was the only lefty hitter.
“I wanted to let him have a different mindset. I just thought coming off a day off, three games left [until the break], let’s just do something — and he loves doing it anyway. He’ll tell you he’s the greatest of all-time. Let him get up there and have a good time and see what happens.”
Rizzo said he feels “great” physically.
“Right now it’s probably a confidence issue as much as anything,” Maddon said.
It probably doesn’t help that Rizzo has been trying to find a fix at the plate while hitting at two of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball, between San Francisco’s AT&T Park earlier in the week and San Diego.
“These aren’t my two favorite parks. But it’s baseball,” he said. “I’ll show up and put my big-boy pants on and try to help this team win.”
The Cubs took a 2-1 lead in the second after Javy Baez opened the inning with a double high off the wall in right that was close enough to prompt an replay review.
After two walks loaded the bases, Ian Happ drove home two with a single up the middle.
But Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood gave the lead right back on a two-out, two-run homer by Travis Jankowski in the bottom.
The Cubs tied it in the fifth on Kris Bryant’s two-out, run-scoring double, before Austin Hedges’ two-out single in the eighth drove home Manuel Margot with the go-ahead run.
Left-hander Brian Duensing, who has struggled much of this season after becoming a critical part of last year’s bullpen success, returned Friday after 12 days on the disabled list because of shoulder fatigue.
Rookie right-hander Luke Farrell, who has emerged as a key part of the Cubs’ bullpen depth, was optioned to Class AAA Iowa to make room on the roster. The Cubs plan to put him in the Iowa rotation in case a need for a starter arises.
The Cubs will need a sixth starter at some point during the first five days out of the break because a July 21 doubleheader.