Chicago Cubs

Pen struggles, but Cubs hang on to win

Chicago Cubs' Rene Rivera celebrates his grand slam home run against the Atlanta Braves with Cubs' manager Joe Maddon during the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jim Young)
Chicago Cubs' Rene Rivera celebrates his grand slam home run against the Atlanta Braves with Cubs' manager Joe Maddon during the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jim Young)

For three seasons, Rizzo has been the rock of a Cubs team that has made getting to the postseason its very business.

In Saturday’s 14-12 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field, Rizzo achieved a career milestone emblematic of him being one of the most consistent players in the game today.

Rizzo’s 3-run triple in the fourth inning gave him 100 RBI for the season. For the third straight season, Rizzo has compiled at least 100 RBI, 30 home runs and 30 doubles. That makes him the fourth Cubs player in history to do that, as he joined Hack Wilson, Billy Williams and Sammy Sosa.

“I think sometimes people overlook consistency,” said pitcher Jon Lester, who came off the disabled list and picked up the victory by working five innings. “They overlook people who go out and do their job every single day – they don’t do anything flashy. His face is around, but he’s not like a look-at-me guy. He’s just kind of the average dude that goes out there and plays every single day, and I think that gets overlooked at times.

“Everybody wants flash, pimping homers and doing all that look-at-me stuff. Joker (Rizzo) plays every day and plays hard. And his numbers speak for themselves. When you put him in the lineup, you know what you’re going to get. He’s going to go through his ups and downs just like the rest of us. At the end of the year, you’re going to look up and see 30 and 100. That’s hard to beat. He deserves everything that comes his way as far as acknowledgment and attention.

“It’s impressive to see what he’s done.”

Rizzo has a batting line of .283/.399/.542 with 31 homers. He often deflects attention from himself to talk about team goals. But he does take pride in the consistency.

“It’s something that I want to continue to do year in and year out,” he said. “From the standpoint of you do it one year, you want to do it again. You want to keep proving yourself. That’s the name of this game. You’ve got to keep proving yourself and earning your name and earning your mark.”

The game was one that wound up being too close for comfort for the Cubs, who won their sixth in a row to move to 75-60. They got a second-inning grand slam from catcher Rene Rivera and wound up leading 11-4 after six innings. But some shaky work by the bullpen allowed the Braves to get back into the game, and they had the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning.

The Cubs needed closer Wade Davis to tie things down and he did so by striking out the dangerous Freddie Freeman.

Lester (9-7), who hadn’t pitched since Aug. 17 because of shoulder fatigue, threw 32 pitches in the first inning but settled in after that. He gave up three homers and finished with a 1-2-3 fifth.

“Physically felt good,” he said. “I’m fine. No restrictions. I told our trainers, when you ask about limitations and all that stuff, I was basically like, ‘Hey, I’m going to find out in the first inning whether or not I’m going to blow out or we’re going to keep riding this through.’ Found out that everything’s fine. Felt good. Felt like the ball was coming out pretty well. Maybe a couple pitch selections to have back, but we won the game.”

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