Cubs take early lead but drop opener to Mets

Cubs take early lead but drop opener to Mets

NEW YORK -- Entering perhaps their most important homestand of the season, the Mets were struggling, reeling from a three-game sweep in Washington. The Cubs, still baseball's best team in terms of record, had rebounded from a weeklong funk to win three straight. To remain competitive, the Mets would need to reverse both trends.

They began that process with a sorely needed 4-3 win over the Cubs, parlaying a Javier Baez error into a go-ahead three-run rally in the seventh inning of the clubs' first meeting since last year's National League Championship Series. Yoenis Cespedes also hit the longest home run by a Mets player this season, and Steven Matz mustered 5 1/3 innings of three-run ball pitching through a bone spur in his elbow to snap the Cubs' three-game winning streak.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, 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's tear continues with HR in 1st off Matz

Bryant's tear continues with HR in 1st off Matz

NEW YORK -- Kris Bryant didn't waste any time on Thursday getting the Cubs on the board against the Mets in their first meeting since the National League Championship Series. Bryant belted his team-leading 22nd home run of the season on the sixth pitch of the game from the Mets' Steven Matz, driving in Ben Zobrist to take a 2-0 lead in the first, though the Mets would rally for a 4-3 win.

Bryant, who belted three home runs and two doubles on Monday in Cincinnati, began the day tied for second in the NL in home runs with the Rockies' Nolan Arenado. With his blast, Bryant is tied with the Reds' Adam Duvall.

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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.

Things unravel for Cubs in fateful seventh

After solid beginning to evening, Lackey pulled for Peralta

Things unravel for Cubs in fateful seventh

NEW YORK -- The Cubs had a chance on Thursday to eliminate some of the bad feelings from last year's National League Championship Series, but couldn't after a 4-3 loss.

Start with the Mets' seventh. Chicago led, 3-1, and New York had a runner at first with one out against John Lackey, who expected to finish the inning. But he didn't, and that's when things began to unravel.

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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.

All-Star Ballot end sets up Tuesday intrigue

Rosters announced at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday on ESPN; Final Vote next

All-Star Ballot end sets up Tuesday intrigue

The people have spoken and the countdown is on.

After 68 consecutive days of relentless fan voting to determine starting position players for the 87th All-Star Game on July 12 at Petco Park in San Diego, the largest All-Star balloting program in sports closed at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arrieta focused on starts, not All-Star Game

Right-hander among those being considered by Collins

Arrieta focused on starts, not All-Star Game

NEW YORK -- Right-hander Jake Arrieta was not happy to hear that the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw was placed on the disabled list because of a back injury, and on Saturday he will get a chance to pitch in front of the person who will decide who starts for the National League team in the All-Star Game.

On Thursday, Mets manager Terry Collins, who will manage the NL team, said there are five legitimate names to be considered for the honor. Arrieta is one of them.

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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 being cautious with Heyward

Maddon being cautious with Heyward

NEW YORK -- Outfielder Jason Heyward did not start in Thursday's 4-3 loss for the second straight game because of some soreness on his left side, which he felt during a throw in the Cubs' last game in Miami on Sunday. Heyward grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning against the Mets and stayed in the game to play right field. He is expected to start on Friday.

"I could play with it fine," Heyward said prior to the game. "[Manager Joe Maddon] wanted to give it an extra day. He wants us, as a team, to go into the All-Star break fresh as possible and not take anything aggravating into the break."

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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.

Hammel to pitch at Citi Field for first time since 2011

Hammel to pitch at Citi Field for first time since 2011

The Mets and Cubs will continue their National League Championship Series rematch at Citi Field on Friday, with right-handers Jacob deGrom and Jason Hammel taking the hill.

deGrom will look to build off his most recent outing, on Saturday, in which he tossed eight shutout innings -- tying a career high -- en route to a no-decision against the Braves. The last time he faced the Cubs, in Game 3 of the NLCS, he earned the win, allowing two runs on four hits over seven innings while striking out seven.

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Troy Provost-Heron is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Underwood among top prospect performers Thursday

Phillies' Nos. 19 and 22 prospects each homer and drive in four runs

Underwood among top prospect performers Thursday

Rhys Hoskins (Phillies' No. 19) won't let Dylan Cozens (Phillies' No. 22) lead the Minors in homers. For the second time in as many nights, Cozens homered to take the Minor League lead and Hoskins tied him in the same game.

The Double-A Reading duo each have 22 homers and 66 RBIs after driving in four runs each Thursday in the team's 13-5 win over Erie.

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

Rizzo circles bases for inside-the-park homer

Rizzo circles bases for inside-the-park homer

CINCINNATI -- In a series that featured a record-breaking performance from Kris Bryant and a wacky 15-inning game, it's only fitting that Wednesday's 9-2 Chicago victory at Great American Ball Park between the Reds and Cubs started out strange.

After starter Cody Reed gave up hits to Ben Zobrist and Bryant in the first inning, Anthony Rizzo drove a deep fly ball to left-center field. While Rizzo did not run full speed out of the box, expecting it to be caught, both Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall closed in on the ball. Nearly colliding, Hamilton slid out of the way, and the ball bounced off Duvall's glove and hit Hamilton in the face.

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Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Hickman's passing rekindles Cubs' memories of magical 1969 season

Hickman's passing rekindles Cubs' memories of magical 1969 season

You never forget some moments, some critical intersections in a baseball season. Not when your heart is involved.

For Randy Hundley, as well as the Bleacher Bums and a generation of Cubs fans, one of those was a laser-beam throw to home plate at Shea Stadium. It's one of the first things that comes to mind when Hundley thinks about Jim Hickman, who elevated himself from spare part to essential ingredient in the magical summer of 1969.

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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 start fast, rip 3 HRs to sweep away Reds

Cubs start fast, rip 3 HRs to sweep away Reds

CINCINNATI -- Following two games where they took early leads before seeing the Reds tighten matters, the Cubs scored first and never looked back on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park. Three home runs, including an inside-the-park homer by Anthony Rizzo, and plenty of add-on runs kept them trucking for a 9-2 victory over the Reds and a three-game series sweep.

Rizzo made it 3-0 three batters into the game against rookie lefty Cody Reed when his drive to left-center field had Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall converging. The ball skipped off of Duvall's glove into Hamilton's face and put the center fielder down, forcing him from the game. It was ruled a hit by the official scorer.

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Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Wednesday.

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

Almora hits 1st MLB HR, makes fine diving catch

Almora hits 1st MLB HR, makes fine diving catch

CINCINNATI -- In the top of the fourth inning Wednesday, Cubs rookie outfielder Albert Almora Jr. made his first career trot around the bases.

On a 1-1 pitch from Reds rookie Cody Reed, Almora drove it to right-center field, clearing the wall for a 399-foot homer, according to Statcast™. It was Almora's first career home run, and he finished the game 1-for-3 with a walk as the Cubs went on to beat the Reds, 9-2, at Great American Ball Park.

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Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Happiness is this adorable kid getting a Kris Bryant sticker

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Happiness is this adorable kid getting a Kris Bryant sticker

Having a rough week? Is your boss making you work a full day Friday before July 4th weekend? Do you need some happiness in your life? Please, look no further then this young baseball fan receiving a Kris Bryant Topps card and being reduced to a blubbering, adorable, joyous mess.

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Martinez among top prospect performers Wednesday

Pirates prospect continues to rake; Blue Jays outfielder homers twice, plates six

Martinez among top prospect performers Wednesday

Josh Bell's body of work made it clear he deserved to be named to the International League All-Star team, but the No. 44 overall prospect (Pirates' No. 3) still took Wednesday's game as an opportunity to cement his place on the squad.

Hours after the International League All-Star roster was announced, Bell led Triple-A Indianapolis to a win with a perfect 3-for-3 day at the plate. The 23-year-old leads the league with 153 total bases and is hitting .323 with 13 homers and 48 RBIs through 77 games.

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

Versatility enables Maddon to think outside the box

Versatility enables Maddon to think outside the box

CINCINNATI -- Tuesday night's unorthodox extra-innings managerial decisions from Joe Maddon were made possible by Travis Wood's versatility in a 7-2 win over the Reds.

As a good hitter for a pitcher and a solid athlete, Wood deepened Maddon's bench and it resulted in one of the more memorable series of managerial decisions in a long time as Wood both pitched and played left field. Maddon called it "the Travis Wood show."

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Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kiss it good Baez! In 15, Cubs slam door

Kiss it good Baez! In 15, Cubs slam door

CINCINNATI -- Kris Bryant delivered an RBI single against a drawn-in infield to break a 2-2 tie in the top of the 15th before Javier Baez blasted a grand slam off Reds reliever J.J. Hoover as the Cubs outlasted Cincinnati, 7-2, Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.

"The grand slam obviously was huge just to really build that cushion to permit us to more comfortably go into that last inning, because I had no idea what was going on," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

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Kevin Goheen is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati.

Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Tuesday.

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

Cubs try every trick in the book in wild win

With all position players used, Maddon improvises in Chicago's victory

Cubs try every trick in the book in wild win

CINCINNATI -- Tuesday's game between the Cubs and Reds at Great American Ball Park got weird.

While the Cubs pulled out the 7-2 win in the 15th inning, it seemed before the eighth inning that the Cubs were destined for a complete-game shutout from starter Jon Lester. But after two hits in the eighth, including a homer, Hector Rondon came on for a four-out save. Rondon blew the save, and the game went into extras.

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Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rizzo reaches into stands to end threat

Rizzo reaches into stands to end threat

CINCINNATI -- After a solid outing for starter Jon Lester, the wheels fell off a bit in the eighth inning of the Cubs' 7-2, 15-inning win Monday night at Great American Ball Park.

Billy Hamilton ended a streak of 14 straight batters retired with a solo home run to bring the Reds within one run. Then Jose Peraza singled and stole second, putting the tying run in scoring position.

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Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs use three pitchers in the outfield, win anyway

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Cubs use three pitchers in the outfield, win anyway

There was some straight-up wackiness in Tuesday's Cubs-Reds game, which Chicago won in the 15th inning, 7-2, after an RBI single from Kris Bryant and a grand slam by Javier Baez sealed the deal. That slam, by the way, was a first for the Cubs franchise: 

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Candelario, Jimenez latest Cubs to get Futures Game nods

Candelario, Jimenez latest Cubs to get Futures Game nods

CINCINNATI -- The Cubs have seen a great deal of success with their top prospects over the past few years, posting MLB's best record with a roster headlined by several of them.

This year has already seen the promotion of top 20 prospects Willson Contreras and Carl Edwards Jr.

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Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sands among top prospect performers Tuesday

Twins' No. 1 prospect allows one hit in seven frames, Nats' No. 6 records career-high seven RBIs

Sands among top prospect performers Tuesday

Jose Berrios followed up his best start of the year with a no-hit bid and an outing that was equally impressive.

The No. 15 overall prospect took a no-hitter into the seventh, but lost it on a one-out double -- the lone hit he allowed in seven scoreless frames. Berrios threw 64 of his 96 pitches for strikes, walking three and striking out six.

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

Extra Kris B! Cub's hot swings epic

Bryant first in modern history to hit 3 homers, 2 doubles in one game

Extra Kris B! Cub's hot swings epic

CINCINNATI -- In the top of the eighth inning Monday night, a sea of Cubs fans erupted at Great American Ball Park as third baseman Kris Bryant trotted around the bases.

As he entered the dugout, they only got louder -- beckoning Bryant for a curtain call. Bryant, reluctant, hid in the dugout. Even after outfielder Jason Heyward pulled him to the dugout railing, Bryant avoided his curtain call and was quickly saved by an Anthony Rizzo home run.

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Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

5 alive! Bryant 5-for-5, hits 3 of Cubs' 5 HRs vs. Reds

5 alive! Bryant 5-for-5, hits 3 of Cubs' 5 HRs vs. Reds

CINCINNATI -- Plenty of players have hit for the cycle before in Major League history. No one has ever had a full house, at least not the way Kris Bryant did Monday night.

Bryant went 5-for-5 with six RBIs and became the first player in modern MLB history, dating back to 1913, to hit three home runs and two doubles in the same game. He also set a Cubs franchise record with 16 total bases, as Chicago beat the Reds, 11-8, at Great American Ball Park. It was the first three-home run game in Bryant's career. Two of them were mammoth blasts into the upper-deck bleachers in left field.

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Kevin Goheen is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Reds on Monday.

Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati.

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

Arrieta contributes more at plate than on mound

Ace allows season highs in runs, walks on night he hits 1 of Cubs' 5 homers

Arrieta contributes more at plate than on mound

CINCINNATI -- In a rare feat for Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, his performance in the batter's box overshadowed his performance on the mound Monday night.

Arrieta hasn't been his dominant self of late, and that trend continued in Monday's 11-8 win over the Reds. The ace gave up a season-high five runs over five innings and walked a season-high five batters. At the plate, though, Arrieta helped his own cause by going 2-for-3, including a 381-foot home run in the fifth inning, according to Statcast™, his second homer of the season and fourth of his career.

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Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs call up veteran reliever Peralta

Cubs call up veteran reliever Peralta

CHICAGO -- In an effort to shake up their taxed and struggling bullpen, the Cubs selected the contract of veteran right-handed pitcher Joel Peralta from Triple-A Iowa on Monday. The Cubs optioned rookie lefty Gerardo Concepcion to Iowa in a corresponding move.

Signed to a Minor League contract June 13, Peralta was designated for assignment by the Mariners on June 2 after posting a 5.40 ERA in 26 appearances for Seattle. A 12-year veteran, Peralta owns a 4.00 ERA over 615 career games and 644 innings for the Angels, Royals, Rockies, Nationals, Rays, Dodgers and Mariners.

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Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati.

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

Happ, McKinney among top prospect performers Monday

Cubs' No. 3 and No. 6 prospects combine to go 5-for-6 with 7 RBIs

Happ, McKinney among top prospect performers Monday

A pair of Top 100 Cubs prospects shined on Monday for Double-A Tennessee as Ian Happ and Billy McKinney combined to go 5-for-6 at the plate with seven RBIs to lead the Smokies past Pensacola, 12-1, in a rain-shortened game.

Happ, No. 67 overall on the Top 100, hit his ninth home run and drove in three runs in what was his third straight three-hit game for Tennessee. The 21-year-old second baseman and Cubs' No. 3 prospect owns an absurd .733/.706/1.267 slash line with two home runs, two doubles and six RBIs through five games since his promotion from Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach, where he hit .296/.410/.475 with 26 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs and 10 steals in 69 contests.

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

Former Mets, Cubs slugger Hickman dies at 79

OF known for hit that led to Rose-Fosse collision in 1970 All-Star Game

Former Mets, Cubs slugger Hickman dies at 79

Jim Hickman, one of the Mets' first power hitters and an outfielder imprinted forever in All-Star Game history, died this weekend in Jackson, Tenn. He was 79. The Mets confirmed his death Monday.

Hickman was the first Mets player to hit three home runs in a game, the first Mets player to hit for the cycle (Aug. 7, 1963) and the last player to hit a homer at the Polo Grounds. He hit 13 home runs and drove in 46 runs for the original New York Mets in 1962, adding 47 more dingers over five seasons with the club.

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Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.