Cubs-Pirates game suspended, ends in tie

Cubs-Pirates game suspended, ends in tie

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' game against the Cubs on Thursday night at PNC Park was suspended and declared a 1-1 tie after being delayed by rain with one out in the top of the sixth inning.

It is the first tie in the regular season since the Astros and Reds played to a 2-2 tie on June 30, 2005, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hammel won't make final start due to tight elbow

Cubs righty says move is precautionary so he is ready for postseason

Hammel won't make final start due to tight elbow

PITTSBURGH -- Cubs righty Jason Hammel was scratched from his final regular-season start, which was scheduled for Friday, because of tightness in his right elbow, but he said it was a precautionary move so he is ready for the postseason.

"Weighing the risk-reward of throwing a game, maybe going five, six, seven innings and having something happening, especially with [bad] weather, who knows what could happen?" said Hammel, who has been bothered by the discomfort for a couple of weeks. "It stinks. Obviously, I want to make the start. We're kind of thinking ahead and availability in October."

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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 go with Buchanan to start opener in Cincy

Cubs go with Buchanan to start opener in Cincy

Can Joey Votto finish the second half with a .400 batting average? Will the Cubs' Kyle Hendricks end the regular season with a sub 2.00 ERA? Can Chicago's Jon Lester win 20 games? And how will the Reds' Josh Smith do in his second start of the season?

Those are some of the questions for the Reds and Cubs, who close the regular season with a three-game series starting Friday at Great American Ball Park.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.

Coghlan says ankle is fine, eyes playoff roster

Soler rejoins team to be evaluated by trainers; postseason availability uncertain

Coghlan says ankle is fine, eyes playoff roster

PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs' Chris Coghlan said his left ankle felt good on Thursday, one day after coming out of a game with a mild sprain after crashing into the outfield wall.

"It got stuck in the wall," Coghlan said.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

5 challenges for Cubs with Epstein locked in

5 challenges for Cubs with Epstein locked in

Ninety-five wins a year. That was the Red Sox's goal in the Theo Epstein years, because they were competing against the Yankees. As staggering as that number seems, the Red Sox were actually underselling the greatness of the Yanks.

In the Derek Jeter era, the Yankees averaged 97 wins over the course of 17 seasons. That's the same total that the Braves averaged over 14 full seasons in their great run during the Glavine-Smoltz-Maddux years.

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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.

Epstein, Cubs agree to 5-year extension

GM Hoyer, scouting director McLeod also expected to be extended

Epstein, Cubs agree to 5-year extension

PITTSBURGH -- In Spring Training, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein had dinner in Arizona, and the topic of a contract extension came up. Epstein's deal, which he signed in October 2011, was to expire next month.

"I told him I thought he was the best in the game at what he did," Ricketts said, "and he told me no matter what I paid him, he wasn't going to leave Chicago, so we were off to a good start."

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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 off, but NLDS foe 'will be in trouble'

Cubs righty allows seven runs to Pirates, vows to be ready for postseason

Arrieta off, but NLDS foe 'will be in trouble'

PITTSBURGH -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon thought Jake Arrieta pitched well on Wednesday night, but the right-hander wasn't happy with his final regular-season start, which felt more like a Cactus League game than a tune-up for the postseason.

The Pirates totaled seven runs on 10 hits over five innings off Arrieta, sending the Cubs to an 8-4 loss. Arrieta finished the regular season 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA, and he just missed posting a sub-3.00 ERA in three straight seasons. The last Cubs pitcher to do that was Bill Hands from 1967-69. Arrieta had a 2.53 ERA in 2014 and a 1.77 ERA during his National League Cy Young Award-winning season in '15.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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, Zobrist swap positions (and gloves) for a single play

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Rizzo, Zobrist swap positions (and gloves) for a single play

Joe Maddon has pulled off some pretty unique plays this season for the NL Central champion Cubs -- specifically, doing things like using pitchers as outfielders (and using them on the mound again later).

What transpired during Wednesday's game with the Pirates, however, was another slice of oddness that came as the result of some quirky defensive positioning. With one out and Eric Fryer on first in the bottom of the fourth inning, Jameson Taillon was at the plate looking to sacrifice. Anthony Rizzo was playing in, anticipating the bunt, so second baseman Ben Zobrist was holding Fryer at first base. 

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Arrieta, Cubs can't contain cycle-hitting Jaso

Arrieta, Cubs can't contain cycle-hitting Jaso

PITTSBURGH -- Nearly a year ago, Jake Arrieta crushed the Pirates' postseason hopes before they could truly begin, tossing a shutout in the Cubs' National League Wild Card Game victory. On Wednesday night, John Jaso led Pittsburgh's recent revenge tour against the Cubs right-hander, hitting for the first cycle in PNC Park history as the Bucs scored seven runs off Arrieta in an 8-4 win.

"It's just a great memory to have," Jaso said.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.

Lackey's solid start a tuneup for October

Right-hander: 'I'm ready to go for whatever is next'

Lackey's solid start a tuneup for October

PITTSBURGH -- John Lackey might have reached 200 innings this season if he hadn't been on the disabled list because of tightness in his right shoulder. The Cubs right-hander expects to make up the difference next month.

"I'm going to get to 200," said Lackey, who is at 188 1/3 innings for the season after pitching five innings Tuesday night in the Cubs' 6-4 victory over the Pirates.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.

Coghlan leads vs. Bucs as Cubs keep cruising

Coghlan leads vs. Bucs as Cubs keep cruising

PITTSBURGH -- Realistically, the Cubs have little left to play for this week. With a 100-win season and the best record in the Majors secured, their sights are now set on the month to come. But still, the Cubs continued their roll into October on Tuesday night at PNC Park, beating the Pirates, 6-4, for their third straight win.

The Pirates' fourth straight loss put them on the brink of mathematical elimination from the National League Wild Card race, dropping their elimination number to one, and the Giants finished the job late Tuesday night at AT&T Park, as their 12-3 win over the Rockies officially put Pittsburgh out of the running.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.

Bryant: Reaching 100 RBIs 'tremendous' relief

Bryant: Reaching 100 RBIs 'tremendous' relief

PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs' Kris Bryant was relieved on Tuesday. After finishing last season with 99 RBIs, he got his 100th -- as well as No. 101 -- when he hit a two-run homer on Monday night against the Pirates.

"It's a tremendous sense of relief knowing I can go out there and play now," Bryant said, admitting he was pressing to get to the century mark.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.

Bryant brings unmatched value with versatility

Cubs star's strong NL MVP Award case boosted by defensive prowess all over field

Bryant brings unmatched value with versatility

The Cubs' run to the National League Central crown began on April 4, with Kris Bryant at third base. It concluded with Chicago's first division title in eight years on September 15, with Bryant at third base. In between, Bryant played more than 300 innings in left field, nearly 100 more in right, 43 at first base, and he sprinkled in cameos at shortstop and center field.

That Bryant put up the offensive numbers he has -- including NL-best marks in runs and WAR -- while wearing so many gloves not only resulted in one of the most unique MVP Award-caliber seasons, but it may also foreshadow the way teams start utilizing a new wave of hybrid stars.

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Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz. MLB.com reporters Carrie Muskat and Phil Rogers contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

100 Grand! Slam seals century mark for Cubs

100 Grand! Slam seals century mark for Cubs

PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs won their 100th game of the season Monday night the same way they checked off the first 99 -- with dominant starting pitching and an overpowering offensive attack. Javier Baez hit a grand slam and drove in a career-high six runs, Kyle Hendricks lowered his Major League-leading ERA to 1.99 and the Cubs rolled over the Pirates, 12-2, at PNC Park.

"It's not too often you get this much talent in one room on one team," said Kris Bryant, who celebrated the 100th win by driving in his 100th and 101st RBIs on a two-run homer. "We need to realize what we have here and be grateful for it. I couldn't have pictured a better first two years in the big leagues."

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.

Bryant blasts 2-run HR, passes 100 RBIs

Bryant blasts 2-run HR, passes 100 RBIs

PITTSBURGH -- Kris Bryant finished the 2015 season with 99 RBIs, which was good enough to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award. In Monday's 12-2 win over the Pirates, Bryant reached the century mark, hitting his 39th home run, a two-run shot, to raise his season total to 101 RBIs with the Cubs. Give Chris Coghlan an assist.

Coghlan was the Cubs' leadoff man, while Bryant batted second. Coghlan was motivated.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.

Maddon impressed with Hendricks' confidence

With 16th win, Cubs pitcher boasts league-leading 1.99 ERA

Maddon impressed with Hendricks' confidence

PITTSBURGH -- After the fourth inning, Cubs manager Joe Maddon walked over to Kyle Hendricks in the dugout at PNC Park. Hendricks thought the manager might be peeved because the pitcher didn't score on Kris Bryant's single that inning. Instead, Maddon wanted to know what Dartmouth's mascot was.

"He says, 'So, if I was to go to the bookstore at Dartmouth, what would I see as the nickname of the school?'" Hendricks said Monday after picking up his 16th win in the Cubs' 12-2 romp over the Pirates. "I said, 'Big Green,' and he walked away."

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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 leaning toward 11 pitchers in postseason

Cubs leaning toward 11 pitchers in postseason

PITTSBURGH -- Among the discussions the Cubs have had regarding the postseason roster is whether to carry 11 or 12 pitchers. Manager Joe Maddon said they are leaning toward having 11 pitchers and 14 position players, which was the breakdown last year in the postseason.

Maddon said they want to include a long man just in case a starter is knocked out early. That pitcher could be the starter who is odd man out in the postseason rotation, since the team is likely to use four. The Cubs, who clinched the National League Central, will open the NL Division Series on Oct. 7 at Wrigley Field against the winner of the Wild Card game.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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, fans give Ross an epic send-off

Retiring catcher homers in Wrigley finale, then gets surprise tribute

Cubs, fans give Ross an epic send-off

CHICAGO -- David Ross was ticked when Cubs manager Joe Maddon came to the mound with two outs in the seventh inning. Jon Lester was pitching well and had not given up a run against the Cardinals.

"Honestly, I'm like, 'Why is he taking Jon out?'" Ross said. "[Maddon] says, 'I've never done this before, but I'm taking you out of the game.' And then I pulled my mask down because everyone started telling me they loved me, and the emotions started, so I'm trying to get myself together before I walked off the field and then the fans started cheering again."

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.

Ross, Lester key Cubs' 99th win

Ross, Lester key Cubs' 99th win

CHICAGO -- Jon Lester won his National League-leading 19th game and Addison Russell notched his 94th RBI but Sunday night belonged to David Ross, who was greeted by standing ovations every at-bat, and responded with a solo home run, a few tears and a tip of his cap.

Ross and Lester combined to lead the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the Cardinals to set a franchise record in home wins at Wrigley Field at 57. It also was Chicago's 99th win overall, tops in the Major Leagues.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.

Soler, Chapman among Cubs rocked by Fernandez's death

Soler, Chapman among Cubs rocked by Fernandez's death

CHICAGO -- Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler played with Jose Fernandez when they were 11-12 years old and growing up in Cuba. They stayed in touch when both became big leaguers, and saw each other in the offseason in Miami. On Sunday, Soler woke up to the news that his friend was killed in a boating accident in Miami.

"It's sad. It's a great loss of such a great pitcher with such potential," Soler said. "I think all of us in baseball are feeling a heavy heart."

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.

Ross' homer adds style to final regular-season home game

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Ross' homer adds style to final regular-season home game

David Ross is a 39-year-old catcher with over 200 plate appearances this year. There aren't many of those, with only 23 players pulling it off in Major League history. 

Ross is also a career backup catcher and yet, thanks to his abilities behind the plate, in the clubhouse and away from the field, has been a fan favorite and consummate teammate wherever he's gone. There are no Baseball-Reference Play Index searches we can run for that, but pretty sure there are fewer.

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One outing won't determine postseason rotation

Hammel allows six over 2 1/3 innings, but Maddon is looking at whole season

One outing won't determine postseason rotation

CHICAGO -- As much as Jason Hammel would like to make a postseason start, the right-hander knows he's already done something special with the Cubs this season.

Hammel, who took the loss on Saturday in an abbreviated start at Wrigley Field, may find himself as the odd man out when manager Joe Maddon sets the rotation for the National League Division Series, which begins Oct. 7. Hammel served up six runs over 2 1/3 innings in the Cubs' 10-4 loss to the Cardinals.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.

Rough start creates too deep a hole for Cubs

Rough start creates too deep a hole for Cubs

CHICAGO -- Just when the Cardinals needed a win to keep pace in the National League Wild Card race, it was Alex Reyes' turn to pitch. Stephen Piscotty smacked a solo home run and Yadier Molina drove in four runs to back Reyes and power the Cardinals to a 10-4 victory on Saturday at Wrigley Field over the Cubs and slow their drive for 100 wins.

"They're a really good hitting ballclub," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the Cardinals, who evened the season series at nine wins apiece with one game remaining. "They're very good offensively. They have a lot of veterans on the team. They're very formidable."

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs secure home field for NLDS, NLCS

Club likely to face Mets, Giants or Cards in first round

Cubs secure home field for NLDS, NLCS

The Cubs have sat atop the National League standings for much of the season, and on Friday that status became official.

After Chicago's 5-0 victory over St. Louis in the afternoon at Wrigley Field, Washington's' 6-5, 11-inning loss at Pittsburgh that night guaranteed the Cubs home-field advantage in both the NL Division Series and NL Championship Series. The best the Nationals can do now is finish the regular season tied with the Cubs at 98-64, but Chicago owns the tiebreaker thanks to winning the season series, 5-2.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arrieta spins gem; Cubs clinch NL's No. 1 seed

Arrieta spins gem; Cubs clinch NL's No. 1 seed

CHICAGO -- One week after clinching the National League Central title, the Cubs are focused on fine-tuning some things in preparation for the postseason. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have to beat their division rival if they hope to secure an NL Wild Card berth, and they were unable to do so on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Jake Arrieta struck out 10 over seven innings in the Cubs' 5-0 victory over the Cardinals, their 15th shutout of the season. It was Chicago's 98th win, the most in a single season since winning 98 in 1945, which was the last time the Cubs played in the World Series. Though they lost, the Cardinals remained a half-game behind the Giants, who lost to the Padres, for the second NL Wild Card spot.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Paired with Montero, Arrieta finds his groove

Cubs' ace walks only one, strikes out 10 to pick up 18th victory

Paired with Montero, Arrieta finds his groove

CHICAGO -- Cubs catcher Miguel Montero had a message for Jake Arrieta before the right-hander took the mound on Friday.

"I said, 'I need you to pick up the tempo, I need you to go,'" Montero said. "'Let me do the thinking, you do the throwing. I want you to keep on moving. I don't want you to sit there, because everybody falls asleep. I want you to keep on going. Don't give the hitters much time to think. I want you to just go.'"

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.

'Grandpa Rossy' surprised with pregame tribute

Retiring catcher gets number from scoreboard, home plate and framed jersey

'Grandpa Rossy' surprised with pregame tribute

CHICAGO -- David Ross is the ringleader on the Cubs, and he prides himself on knowing everything that's going on, but the veteran catcher was totally surprised on Friday when teammates honored him pregame as part of a year-long retirement ceremony.

It was business as usual until 1 p.m. CT, when a video tribute began to play, featuring some of Ross' career highlights plus tributes from teammates Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo, Jon Lester, Jason Heyward, John Lackey and strength coach Tim Buss. Ross, 39, is retiring after this season, and he received a No. 3 from the Wrigley Field scoreboard, plus home plate from Jake Arrieta's no-hitter that he caught in April. The jersey Ross wore when he hit his 100th career home run also was framed.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.