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Cubs’ offense doing just enough to get it done with Kris Bryant on DL

First, the good news: Kris Bryant’s injured shoulder is “getting stronger.”

Now, the bad news: There still isn’t a timetable for the slugging Cubs third baseman to return to the lineup.

Wait, back to the good news: The Cubs found the right formula to overcome Bryant’s continued absence and defeated the Padres 5-4 on a sun-splashed Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

With Bryant sidelined for the 10th consecutive game due to inflammation in his left shoulder, the Cubs got a stellar pitching performance from Jose Quintana and big days at the plate from Ben Zobrist, Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo to top the Padres before a crowd of 40,894.

Chicago Cubs' Anthony Rizzo, right, watches his solo home run as home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth, left, and San Diego Padres catcher A.J. Ellis look on during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Chicago, on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)

Chicago Cubs' Anthony Rizzo, right, watches his solo home run as home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth, left, and San Diego Padres catcher A.J. Ellis look on during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Chicago, on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes) ORG XMIT: CXC118

The Cubs banged out 10 hits while improving to 5-5 during this second stint on the 10-day disabled list for Bryant.

“We need and want him back,” manager Joe Maddon said before the game. “He’s a difference-maker. We’ve seen that. Not only are we talking about the hitting but the
baserunning [and] he’s played great defense and [his] presence. The length of your lineup looks different when he’s involved. We’re looking forward to that moment.”

In the meantime, Quintana stayed in his moment as the left-hander went six strong innings and yielded a run on four hits with no walks and six strikeouts to improve to 3-0 with a 2.55 ERA and 26 strikeouts in his last four starts at Wrigley Field.

“I was feeling really good [and] my command was better,” said Quintana, whose only mistake was a hanging curveball that Christian Villanueva deposited over the wall in left in the fourth inning. “I hit my spots right away with the first pitch.”

The gaping hole in the lineup would be much more daunting if not for the continued production from Baez, Zobrist and Rizzo, who have kicked into high gear with
Bryant idle.

Baez equaled his career high with his 23rd home run and also tripled, Zobrist brought home the Cubs’ second and third runs, respectively, with a sacrifice fly and a fielder’s choice, and Rizzo had three hits, including a homer into the basket in right to add a key insurance run in the seventh.

“We definitely miss Kris in the lineup, that’s for sure,” Rizzo said. “Guys have been putting together really good at-bats and we have to keep doing that.”

Baez is hitting .407 with four homers and 10 RBI in his last 10 games, Rizzo has reached base in eight consecutive games and has four homers and eight RBIs during that stretch, and Zobrist is hitting .447 in 12 games since the All-Star break.

“I’m just really focused on doing what I can do,” Zobrist said. “I can’t fill Kris Bryant’s absence, there’s barely anybody in the league that can, so you just try to be the best version of yourself and have good quality at-bats.”

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The Cubs evened the four-game series at 1-1 and improved to 63-46 as Quintana bettered Padres starter Tyson Ross, who allowed three runs in five innings of work.

“One hanging curveball and otherwise [Quintana] was near-perfect,” Maddon said. “[There was] more strike throwing . . . pounding the zone [and he had] great carry on his fastball.”

The Cubs survived a rocky ninth when Pedro Strop allowed two runs but the right-hander struck out Austin Hedges to end it.

As for Bryant, Maddon said trainer PJ Mainville “told me he’d been doing a lot of good work with [Bryant] and actually PJ felt a strength increase and so did KB. I don’t have anything more to report than that, but he’s getting stronger.”