Weather postpones Cubs' opener vs. Bucs

Game called following second lengthy delay after fourth; no makeup date announced

Weather postpones Cubs' opener vs. Bucs

PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs took a half-game lead in the race for the National League's second Wild Card spot Monday night. But inclement weather and two lengthy delays halted their first attempt to gain some ground on the Pirates.

After a two-hour, nine-minute delay during the second inning, the Cubs and Pirates were further delayed before the fifth inning began. After waiting out the unpredictable weather another hour and 20 minutes, Monday night's game at PNC Park was officially postponed just before 11 p.m. CT.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bryant healthy, but rethinking slide technique

Cubs rookie hoping to avoid going in head first after scary collision prompted early exit

Bryant healthy, but rethinking slide technique

PITTSBURGH -- Kris Bryant was back in the Cubs' lineup and ready to play before Monday night's rainout in Pittsburgh, but his early exit from Sunday's game may force him to reconsider one aspect of his game.

Bryant passed all of the necessary concussion tests after leaving in the fifth inning of Sunday's 4-3 win over the Brewers following a hard slide into second base. Brewers shortstop Jean Segura appeared to accidentally hit Bryant in the head during the slide.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs eye 6th straight win as Arrieta faces Bucs

Cubs eye 6th straight win as Arrieta faces Bucs

With Pittsburgh primed and positioned for postseason play, recent acquisition J.A. Happ is excited to be a part of the club as he makes his Pirates debut Tuesday against Jake Arrieta and the Cubs at PNC Park.

With Monday's series opener postponed after the fourth inning, both starters -- Jon Lester (1 2/3 IP) and Francisco Liriano (2 IP) -- were used, and both teams will keep their rotations on track and unaffected through at least Tuesday's game.

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John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Central in the Cards, but Bucs, Cubs won't fold

Central in the Cards, but Bucs, Cubs won't fold

The Cardinals are as efficient as a Swiss watch. They lost their ace in April but never missed a beat. Adam Wainwright had helped the Cards get off to a 12-4 start, and they have kept ticking on a pace to win 100-plus games as well as stay in range to chase the franchise record of 106 wins.

The Cardinals needed to set such a high standard. The Pirates have been almost as strong as they attempt to go to the postseason for a third consecutive year, this time as division champ. They were 18-22 on May 20 before reeling off a 21-5 stretch to drop the surprising Cubs into third place. No team has been more interesting than the one managed by Joe Maddon, which is contending for a Wild Card spot with four rookies, including All-Star Kris Bryant, in the lineup.

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Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs designate Richard, recall Szczur

Club bolsters bench, prepares for lefty matchups with right-handed-hitting outfielder

Cubs designate Richard, recall Szczur

PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs designated left-hander Clayton Richard for assignment on Monday -- for the second time in the last two weeks -- in order to balance out their thin bench.

Outfielder Matt Szczur was called up from Triple-A Iowa to take Richard's spot on the active roster. He was available for Monday night's series opener against the Pirates at PNC Park, once again giving the Cubs a four-man bench.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Russell tweaks mechanics, mental approach

Cubs rookie second baseman has improved at plate since break

Russell tweaks mechanics, mental approach

MILWAUKEE -- Maybe Addison Russell is best at baseball when he's not thinking about it.

The Cubs rookie second baseman smacked a solo home run Sunday in a 4-3 win over the Brewers, and now is batting .286 since the All-Star break. It wasn't just the time off that seems to have helped the 21-year-old, but some adjustments with hitting coach John Mallee.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs hold off Brewers to complete sweep

Cubs hold off Brewers to complete sweep

MILWAUKEE -- Addison Russell smacked a solo home run to back Clayton Richard, who helped himself by hitting an RBI double, leading the Cubs to a 4-3 victory Sunday over the Brewers to complete a four-game sweep.

With the win, the Cubs now are 10 games over .500 (57-47).

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Maddon ejected after losing challenge

Play at first confirmed after Cubs asked for replay

Maddon ejected after losing challenge

MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs not only lost a challenge Sunday but manager Joe Maddon, who was ejected in the third inning of Sunday's 4-3 win over the Brewers.

Maddon was tossed after he questioned crew chief Hunter Wendelstedt following the review of a call.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Haren indicates Cubs stint may be swan song

Pitcher excited to join contender in what may be his final season

Haren indicates Cubs stint may be swan song

MILWAUKEE -- This may be Dan Haren's last big league season, and if it is, the right-hander wants to go out with a winner.

Acquired on Friday from the Marlins, Haren will make his Cubs debut Wednesday in the series finale against the Pirates. When the trade was finalized, Haren posted on his Twitter account that he would be wearing No. 50.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs face test this week vs. Wild Card foes

Series against Pirates and Giants are key for young club

Cubs face test this week vs. Wild Card foes

MILWAUKEE -- If the Cubs want to gain some ground in the Wild Card race, this week will be a good time to do so as they face both the Pirates and Giants, the two teams ahead of them. Manager Joe Maddon sticks to a "one day at a time" approach. The Pirates and Giants both have postseason experience, something the young Cubs don't have.

"There's definitely an advantage -- 'been there done that,' no question," Maddon said Sunday. "But at the same time, you have a bunch of hungry guys coming on which can be, in and of itself, a good position to be in."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

With another homer, Rizzo halfway to history

Cubs' slugging first baseman homers in fourth straight game

With another homer, Rizzo halfway to history

MILWAUKEE -- Look out, Dale Long, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey Jr. Anthony Rizzo is heating up.

Rizzo smacked his fourth homer in as many games, a three-run shot in the third, to power the Cubs to a 4-2 victory Saturday night over the Brewers. It was the Cubs' fourth straight win, and Rizzo notched his 20th home run, the third time in his young career that he's reached that mark.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rizzo continues to torment Brewers

Rizzo continues to torment Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- Anthony Rizzo belted his fourth homer in as many games, a three-run shot in the third, and rookie Kyle Schwarber added a solo home run to power the Cubs to a 4-2 victory Saturday night over the Brewers for their fourth straight win.

Kyle Hendricks scattered four hits over seven-plus innings for the win, his first since July 5. In his 21 starts, the right-hander has 11 no-decisions, the most by any pitcher in the Majors.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. Brandon Curry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Schwarber's approach impressing Maddon

Schwarber's approach impressing Maddon

MILWAUKEE -- Kyle Schwarber passed more tests Saturday night in his crash course on how to play in the big leagues. The rookie hit his fourth big league home run in the Cubs' 4-2 victory over the Brewers, but he also battled starter Matt Garza in an 11-pitch at-bat, and coaxed relievers Jason Motte and newcomer Tommy Hunter in a stressful ninth.

The long at-bat against Garza came with two outs in the third and helped set up Anthony Rizzo's three-run homer. Cubs manager Joe Maddon liked Schwarber's approach with each pitch.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Deal allows Hunter to be close to ailing mother

Deal allows Hunter to be close to ailing mother

MILWAUKEE -- Tommy Hunter could not have been traded to Chicago at a better time. It's not that the right-handed reliever didn't like pitching for the Orioles, but now that he's with the Cubs, he'll be closer to his mother, who is battling cancer.

Hunter grew up in Indianapolis, and his mother still lives there. She recently had surgery to combat kidney cancer.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Haren to make Cubs debut Wednesday

Haren to make Cubs debut Wednesday

MILWAUKEE -- New Cubs pitcher Dan Haren posted on Twitter that he had landed in Milwaukee, and the right-hander will make his first start on Wednesday in the series finale against the Pirates.

This is a key month for the Cubs, who are trying to secure a playoff spot. They'll face the two teams ahead of them in the National League Wild Card race, the Pirates and Giants, starting Monday.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Strange brew: Hammel finds tonic vs. Crew

In best start since early July leg injury, Cubs starter improves to 7-0 vs. Milwaukee, 5-0 at Miller Park

Strange brew: Hammel finds tonic vs. Crew

MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs have reinforcements coming with the Friday additions of pitchers Dan Haren and Tommy Hunter, but the best news may have been that starter Jason Hammel had his best outing since a minor leg injury in early July. Of course, Miller Park may have had something to do with Hammel's success.

Hammel held the Brewers to one run over 5 2/3 innings in the Cubs' 4-1 victory Friday. It was the right-hander's third start after the All-Star break and best since July 3, when he went seven. On July 8, he was limited to one inning because of a strained left hamstring.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs improve pitching, explore bigger trades

Happy to have Haren and Hunter, Epstein also focused on two undisclosed players who weren't dealt at Deadline

Cubs improve pitching, explore bigger trades

MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs acquired two pitchers at the Trade Deadline on Friday, and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said they were close on adding some other players but were unable to complete those deals. What makes that tolerable, Epstein said, is that those targeted players weren't traded at all.

On Friday, the Cubs filled the fifth spot in the rotation by acquiring Dan Haren from the Marlins for two Minor Leaguers, and then they made a deal with the Orioles for hard-throwing reliever Tommy Hunter.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rizzo's homer caps Cubs' win over Brewers

Rizzo's homer caps Cubs' win over Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- Anthony Rizzo belted his third homer in as many games, Starlin Castro drove in two runs and Jason Hammel continued to frustrate the Brewers as the Cubs posted a 4-1 victory Friday night in front of 35,669 at Miller Park.

Hammel served up six hits, including Ryan Braun's 19th home run with two outs in the first. The Cubs right-hander improved to 7-0 in nine career starts against the Brewers, who also are a favorite target for Rizzo. The first baseman, who hit a three-run blast on Thursday, now has 12 homers against Milwaukee, his most against any team.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. Brandon Curry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Starlin relaxes as trade winds pass through

Cubs SS drives in two, looks to stay focused down stretch after stressful period before Deadline

Starlin relaxes as trade winds pass through

MILWAUKEE -- As much as Starlin Castro tried to tune out all the rumors leading up to the Trade Deadline, it wasn't easy. He got frustrated and had to reprimand some family members who called to ask about the gossip.

"I didn't really watch TV or watch rumors," Castro said after driving in two runs in the Cubs' 4-1 victory over the Brewers on Friday night. "Sometimes people, even family, would call me and tell me, 'We see you in the news,' and I say, 'Don't call me for that.'

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs find fifth starter, land Haren from Miami

Acquired before Trade Deadline, veteran righty expected to make debut Wednesday

Cubs find fifth starter, land Haren from Miami

MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs, keen on filling the one vacancy in the rotation, acquired right-hander Dan Haren from the Marlins for Minor Leaguers Ivan Pineyro and Elliot Soto before Friday's 3 p.m. CT Trade Deadline.

Haren is expected to make his Cubs debut Wednesday, when they play the Pirates at PNC Park.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs get Hunter from O's, send Lake in return

Former teammates speak highly of new reliever, who was acquired at Trade Deadline

Cubs get Hunter from O's, send Lake in return

MILWAUKEE -- Both Pedro Strop and Jake Arrieta know Tommy Hunter from their time together on the Orioles. Both had unique scouting reports on the newest Cubs reliever.

"He's crazy," Strop said.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs come through late to deny Brewers

Cubs come through late to deny Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- Anthony Rizzo smacked a three-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning and rookies Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber each drove in a run in the ninth to lift the Cubs to a 5-2 victory over the Brewers on Thursday night.

Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson struck out eight and gave up two hits over seven innings, but the Cubs pounced once he exited. With the Cubs trailing, 2-0, in the eighth, Addison Russell and Dexter Fowler both singled off Jeremy Jeffress, who was then lifted for Will Smith. Smith retired the next two batters before Rizzo launched a 1-1 pitch to right for his 18th home run of the season and third hit of the game.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. Brandon Curry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

No rest for the raking Rizzo

No rest for the raking Rizzo

MILWAUKEE -- Starlin Castro and Jorge Soler had Wednesday off, and Kris Bryant did not start on Thursday. Cubs manager Joe Maddon wants to give Anthony Rizzo a day off, too, but "It's on hold right now," Maddon said.

That's because Rizzo delivered a clutch three-run go-ahead homer with two outs in the eighth to power the Cubs to a 5-2 victory over the Brewers on Thursday night.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arrieta makes faux pas with faux stirrups

Arrieta makes faux pas with faux stirrups

MILWAUKEE -- Jake Arrieta didn't exactly put his best foot forward against the Brewers on Thursday night.

"It was awkward to watch him," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after his team's 5-2 come-from-behind win. "It might have been the socks."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lester K's 14 as Cubs take series from Rockies

Lester K's 14 as Cubs take series from Rockies

CHICAGO -- Jon Lester struck out a season-high 14 batters across eight innings as the Cubs defeated the Rockies on Wednesday, 3-2, to take two of three games in the series at Wrigley Field. Lester became the first Cubs pitcher since Mark Prior in 2004 to throw 14 strikeouts, helping Chicago improve to two games above .500 in July.

Lester finished one strikeout shy of his career high, with at least one K in every inning, including six straight early on. He allowed five hits and one walk in his two-run performance to pick up just his sixth win of the season.

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Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

At home with Cubs, Lester set for stretch run

Lefty boosts Chicago with 14-K performance at Wrigley Field

At home with Cubs, Lester set for stretch run

CHICAGO -- Jon Lester doesn't forget July 31. It's his son Hudson's birthday. It's also the day Lester was traded from the Red Sox, which had been the only team he'd played for, to the Athletics a year ago.

"Last year made for an interesting birthday," Lester said after a dominant performance in the Cubs' 3-2 victory over the Rockies on Wednesday.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Schwarber adjusting to life in the outfield

Rookie makes one catch in left field in finale win over Rockies

Schwarber adjusting to life in the outfield

CHICAGO -- Kyle Schwarber had a different perspective in Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Rockies at Wrigley Field. Instead of being behind the plate, he was in left field, making his first start in the outfield for the Cubs. He only caught one fly ball, and that was hit by Charlie Blackmon to end the eighth inning -- and Schwarber used both hands.

"I just wanted to secure the catch with two hands," Schwarber said. "I didn't want it to squirt out with one."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ramirez to DL in flurry of moves for Cubs

Chicago adds Medina, Rowen to bullpen; Beeler optioned, Baxter DFA'd

Ramirez to DL in flurry of moves for Cubs

CHICAGO -- Neil Ramirez sneezed on Sunday and felt a sharp pain on his left side. The right-hander now is on the disabled list because of what's being described as abdominal soreness, which he felt warming up Tuesday night.

"Abdominal soreness via the sneeze -- I don't know where it's all at," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.