The inning that saved the division: Rizzo and the Cubs rally to force game 163


The 3rd inning Sunday saved the Cubs' chances at ending the regular season as division champions. At the time, the Brewers were already up to an early lead at Miller Park, while the Cubs had fallen behind, 2-0, to the Cardinals at Wrigley. 

With two outs in the inning, Daniel Murphy doubled, Ben Zobrist tripled and then scored on a wild pitch to tie the game. Javy Baez followed that with a walk, and then for his 100th RBI of the season, Anthony Rizzo hit a double to right-center. The Cubs never trailed again, going on to win, 10-5.

"It’s something that I take pride in, that’s for sure," Rizzo said of the personal milestone. "That’s something, to be honest, I did not think I’d be able to reach in the middle of May this year."

But, as expected, Rizzo said that he doesn't really think much about reaching 100 RBI for the fourth straight season. At least not yet. He'll take the time to process that after the postseason is done. For now, his contribution to the Cubs' hugely important 3rd inning in a 10-run effort was a piece of an offense that's been clicking nicely for several games now.

"A lot of two-out rallies. Two-out knocks, two-out walks just kept things going. Kept the line moving, and we usually have good success when we do that," Rizzo said Sunday.

Catcher Willson Contreras, who has struggled offensively for the second half, contributed a two-run line drive homer to left that put the Cubs at 8 runs at the time, said that it was Rizzo's double that galvanized the offense.

"They went up 2-0, but we trust in ourselves and there's A LOT of game left. 27 outs," Contreras said. "We kept going hard and finally Rizzo hit an important double to get ahead and we were able to make good contact after that and have fun. We need to have fun. if we put pressure on ourselves, it's gonna be harder."

Some valid concern might have cropped up after the Cubs lost on Saturday, 2-1, but that was against a sterling pitching performance from Miles Mikolas, and even in that, the Cubs still had mentally focused at bats, so it wasn't all that surprising to see them jump out for 10 runs Sunday.

Credit is due Murphy for his two-out double in the 3rd, but the crowd at Wrigley --- and the Cubs offense -- came to life when Zobrist hit his triple to the right field corner.

"That was the play that got it going," manager Joe Maddon said.

This is the kind of offense that Maddon has preached all season; the offense that "swarms," as he has put it many times, makes the Cubs near impossible to beat even when their starter has to leave the game early. 

They were aware of what was going on early in Milwaukee, Rizzo said, but their own two-run deficit early wasn't daunting. But, as Maddon pointed out after the game, in the much more high-pressure situation that will be Monday, being the team to score early will be more vital.

"It’s very difficult, experience-wise, to come back in those kind of games. Really, you want to get out good," Maddon said.

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