Meaningful late-season baseball games have come to Wrigley Field.
Granted, the games this weekend are meaningful to only the first-place San Francisco Giants, but the Cubs want to have some say in the race, even if it means being spoilers.
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The Cubs put a small hurt on the Giants on Friday, beating the first-place team in the National League West 6-4.
Even better for starting pitcher Chris Volstad, he has something of a winning "streak" going at 2 after having gone 13 months without a victory.
"I love those types of games and pitching against those types of teams," said Volstad, who is 2-9 with a 6.06 ERA. "When we were out in L.A., too, those two teams are battling for the NL West, so it's always a good matchup when we play teams like that."
Before we get too carried away, we must point out that the Giants played a night game Thursday in Houston, flew to Chicago and were operating on little sleep.
"You play indoors in AC, come in at 3-3:30 in the morning," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "And it's not just the heat, it's how humid it is out there.
"It's a tough day. Guys were battling back, fighting back and get the tying run up there. Just couldn't quite get it done."
The Giants sent starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner to Chicago ahead of the team, but even he was off, falling to 14-9 after lasting just 4 innings. Volstad was happy to get the best of him.
"It felt good again today," Volstad said. "The offense did a great job obviously early against a really tough lefty, so that was awesome to watch."
Alfonso Soriano hit an RBI single in the first inning and a 2-run homer in the third. He possibly could have been playing for the Giants, but he didn't want to be traded there, in part because of the way the chilly weather affects his knees.
The Cubs got a solo homer from Anthony Rizzo in the fifth. The umpires needed replay as they first ruled the ball hit the top of the basket in left-center field. Rizzo was waved in from third after further review.
It was his 10th homer of the year and first since Aug. 5. He, too, likes playing in what passes for meaningful games for the Cubs.
"Absolutely," he said. "As the races get closer … you hope for guys to make the playoffs, but at the same time, we're going to do our best to win ballgames.
"The last month, we want to win. We want to play .500 baseball in September. It's cliché, but we want to build as much momentum in September going into spring training going forward."
There's also incentive for the Cubs to avoid the dubious distinction of losing 100 games. Friday's victory gave them a record of 51-80 and put them on pace to finish 63-99.
"I know it's something that I don't want to be a part of," Rizzo said. "I think the magic number is down to 12 wins now.
"I was talking about it today. We're not going to lose 100 games. That's something we're all motivated not to do."
You take your motivation where you can find it.