On a day of miscues, Cubs beat the heat, and Padres, 6-5
On a day like Friday, it's not only the heat.
It's the humility. And maybe even a little humiliation.
Both the Chicago Cubs and the San Diego Padres appeared a little brain-fried on a day when the gametime temperature at Wrigley Field was 93 degrees with a heat index of 106.
Each team committed a pair of physical errors, and there were some lapses in concentration under the hot sun.
When the day was done, the Cubs hung tough for a 6-5 victory, scoring the tiebreaking run in the bottom of the eighth inning, during which the Padres committed both of their errors.
Cubs setup man Pedro Strop denied starter Jon Lester a victory when he gave up a game-tying homer to Josh Naylor on the first pitch of the eighth inning.
"Everybody was melting," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, whose team is 6-1 on the post-all-star-break homestand and 53-44 for the season. "It was scorching hot. They came up from Miami. We had a day off, so we don't have that in our back pocket.
"We made a lot of mistakes, obviously. It was a very sloppy game from both sides. I can't defend that. It was extraordinarily hot. That could impact concentration, but nobody's going to make an excuse. I'm just telling you what I saw. It was pretty firm out there."
Leave it to a guy from South Florida, land of drenched air, to put Lester in position to win. Anthony Rizzo's grand slam in the bottom of the third inning -- his first home run of any kind since June 15 -- erased a 3-0 deficit. After the Padres tied it in the fifth, Javier Baez put the Cubs back up in the home half with his 23rd homer of the season, a drive to the opposite field in right off Padres starter Eric Lauer.
"It was hot, but we've got to play in all weather," said Rizzo, who has 20 homers and who has hit that many in seven straight seasons. "I like the heat. It's nice and sweaty, and I like to sweat. Home runs come in bunches. I knew I hadn't hit one in awhile. But it's happened to me before. You just stay the course, the process, and take what they give you and take your hits."
The Cubs loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth against Craig Stammen on a single by Rizzo, a fielder's-choice-throwing error on a ball hit by Addison Russell and an intentional walk to Jason Heyward. David Bote bounced to Manny Machado, who picked it at third and got Rizzo at the plate. The throw to first by catcher Francisco Mejia handcuffed first baseman Eric Hosmer, who was charged with an error that allowed Russell to score from second.
That set the stage for Craig Kimbrel to earn his fifth save.
In addition to Rizzo, the other story of the day was Lester, who overcame a 26-pitch first inning, as he allowed 4 hits and 1 run, stranding the bases loaded. He gave up a 2-run homer to Machado in the third, but kept battling and sweating. He wound up working 6 innings, giving up 12 hits and 4 runs.
"It was miserable, but we're all out there playing together, so it's not like I'm the only one standing out there," he said. "It's something you can't control and worry about. Just try to make pitches."
Rizzo reinforced the notion that Lester has the undying respect of his teammates.
"This is tough for him, any pitcher to pitch, with it hot and the wind's blowing straight out," he said. "He's a professional and he battles and he grinds. You look up and he goes 6 strong and kept us in the game, and we got some runs."