Cubs win on walk-off, then trade for Hamels
No matter how Thursday's game turned out, the story would have been about two Cubs whose fortunes are tied to one another: pitcher Tyler Chatwood and rookie infielder David Bote.
It turns out that Bote added some spice, power and drama to that story in a stunning 7-6 Cubs victory with a 2-run, game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth inning before Anthony Rizzo crushed a game-winning homer.
And Bote can breathe easier now, too, because he's not going anywhere.
With the Cubs in dire need of starting pitching, they obtained veteran left-hander Cole Hamels from the Texas Rangers Thursday night, according to sources and multiple reports. The Cubs did not have to give up Bote. Instead, sources and reports say, they'll give up two minor-leaguers once the deal is announced as official, pending physical exams.
Hamels, 34, is having a down season. He is 5-9 with the Rangers with a 4.72 ERA and 23 home runs allowed. He is in the final guaranteed season of a six-year, $144 million contract. He is making $22.5 million this year plus a $6 million buyout on his $20 million option for 2019. One report had the Cubs getting some money relief in any deal and possibly sending the Rangers secondary prospects.
As for Bote, his homer tied the Cubs with the Arizona Diamondbacks at 6-6. Seconds later, Rizzo -- playing in the 1,000th game of his major-league career -- obliterated an 0-1 pitch from D'Backs closer Brad Boxberger and hit it 453 feet to right field for a game-winning homer.
The victory salvaged a split of this four-game series for the Cubs, who left for a road trip to St. Louis and Pittsburgh with a record of 60-42, good for first place in the National League Central.
The walk-off victory overshadowed another walk-a-thon authored by Chatwood. The beleaguered starter walked six in 4⅔ innings, giving him 85 walks in 94 innings pitched this season.
Couple Chatwood's command problems with the continued absence of injured starting pitcher Yu Darvish, and the Cubs found themselves looking for a pitcher in the trade market. The hot name all day Thursday was Hamels, who no-hit the Cubs while with the Phillies in 2015.
Bote came up Thursday from Class AAA Iowa with Kris Bryant going on the disabled list, and there's no doubt he would make someone a fine major-league player. But with Bryant out, he's probably more valuable to the Cubs right now.
Whatever the case, just don't ask him about the rumors.
"I'm not on Twitter or anything like that for parts of that reason," he said of the trade talk. "I just come here and play until I'm told otherwise. I don't hear or see or do anything like that. It's something I can't control, so I just stay away from it.
"I don't know what's out there or who wants me or this or that or what kind of stock. My approach every day is to be the best David Bote player I can."
Bote is up from the minor leagues for the fifth time this season. He has announced his presence by going 15-for-46 in 21 games.
"I think he's really valuable," said manager Joe Maddon. "He's a good baseball player. I think that's what he's taught the rest of the industry: 'I'm a good baseball player.' He swings the bat well. When he first got up here, I was made aware that he's better at second base than third base defensively, but I've seen really good third-base play. So he's improved there.
"Plays the game hard, man. He just does everything right. I think that group that was not on him industrywide before coming to the big leagues is on him now. That why you're seeing his name mentioned more prominently based on what he's done here. He's very important to us right now."
In addition to the homer, Bote made a nifty tag at second base and also ranged to his left and dived to rob David Peralta of a hit in the second.
Walks by Chatwood and reliever Brian Duensing helped the D'Backs go ahead 6-1 in the fifth. Chatwood and Duensing combined for 4 walks (with a double play mixed in) before Duensing served up a grand slam to Nick Ahmed.
The Cubs chipped away until the ninth, when pinch hitter Ben Zobrist led off with a walk. Bote homered off Boxberger on an 0-2 pitch after Javier Baez flied out. After taking a curtain call, Bote came out to celebrate as Rizzo hit his 13th homer of the year and his first since June 24.
"It felt good," Rizzo said. "It was a nice win. We go down 6-1 or whatever it was and scored a couple runs and Bote with an amazing at-bat. Then obviously … hitting a home run was icing on top."
Scouting report Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium
NBC Sports Chicago Friday and Saturday; ESPN Sunday
The Cubs' Mike Montgomery (3-3) vs. Luke Weaver (5-9) Friday at 7:15 p.m.; Jose Quintana (9-6) vs. Miles Mikolas (10-3) Saturday at 3:05 p.m.; Kyle Hendricks (6-9) vs. John Gant (3-3) Sunday at 7:08 p.m.
At a glance:
The Cubs took three of five from the Cardinals last weekend at Wrigley Field. For the season, the Cubs are 6-7 against the Cardinals, 2-4 in St. Louis. Under interim manager Mike Shildt, the Cardinals have fallen into fourth place in the NL Central behind the red-hot Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cardinals' poor defense was on display all last weekend. They are last in the NL in fielding percentage, and their 84 errors lead the league by a wide margin. Matt Carpenter, who hit 6 homers against the Cubs in the five-game series at Wrigley, has a line of .275/.384/.579 with 25 homers and 53 RBI.
Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park, Tuesday-Wednesday
-- Bruce Miles