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 call on Hendricks in bid for fourth straight win

Cubs call on Hendricks in bid for fourth straight win

Heading in opposite directions after Friday's Trade Deadline passed, the Brewers and Cubs play the third of their four-game set Saturday. Milwaukee will send Matt Garza to the mound against Kyle Hendricks as Chicago tries to secure the series and its fourth straight win.

The Cubs, who are seeking a Wild Card spot in the National League, acquired two pitchers in Dan Haren and Tommy Hunter on Friday. On the other hand, Milwaukee, which is well out of the playoff race, restocked its farm system in three separate trades between Thursday and Friday. The deals saw outfielders Carlos Gomez and Gerardo Parra shipped out, leaving the lineup noticeably light.

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Brandon Curry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. 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.

Montero eager to return to action

Montero eager to return to action

MILWAUKEE -- Catcher Miguel Montero, examined by a hand specialist in Chicago on Thursday, said he's ready to go. Manager Joe Maddon wants to check with the medical staff but expects that Montero will need some rehab games.

Montero has been on the disabled list since July 12 with a sprained left thumb. He's been rehabbing in Arizona, and hitting for at least a week there. On Thursday he underwent another MRI to make sure the thumb is healed.

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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.

Amid rumors, day off, Castro meets with Maddon

Amid rumors, day off, Castro meets with Maddon

CHICAGO -- Starlin Castro, puzzled after being pulled from a game in a double switch, met with Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who assured the shortstop that he wasn't being traded.

Castro was lifted in the seventh inning on Tuesday night, and then told he wasn't starting on Wednesday. The shortstop wanted -- and got -- an explanation.

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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 fall to Rockies after Beeler falters

Cubs fall to Rockies after Beeler falters

CHICAGO -- DJ LeMahieu had three hits, including an RBI double and a triple, and Nolan Arenado smacked a two-run double to power the Rockies to a 7-2 victory over the Cubs on Tuesday night and even the series at one win apiece.

This was the Rockies' first game after Troy Tulowitzki was traded to the Blue Jays, and they got off to a quick start, sending all nine batters to the plate in the first inning and scoring four runs against Chicago right-hander Dallas Beeler.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page. 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 host kids as part of PLAY campaign

Cubs host kids as part of PLAY campaign

CHICAGO -- When reliever Jason Motte warned 80 kids from two Chicago Boys and Girls Clubs on Tuesday about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs, one boy asked if there are other ways to get bigger physically.

"Milk," Motte 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.

Bryant 'wakes up' Cubs with dramatic blast

Rookie hits walk-off HR to beat Rockies Monday night

Bryant 'wakes up' Cubs with dramatic blast

CHICAGO -- During Saturday's game against the Phillies' Cole Hamels, the Cubs' Kris Bryant hit two long fly balls that reached the warning track. Hamels finished with a no-hitter. But on Monday, Bryant's fortunes turned out a whole lot better.

The rookie belted a walk-off, two-run homer with two outs in the ninth to power the Cubs to a 9-8 victory over the Rockies, who had scored four runs in the top of the inning.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

Scouting profile: Kyle Schwarber

Scouting profile: Kyle Schwarber

Background
One look at Kyle Schwarber screams "catcher." At 6-foot, 235 pounds, Schwarber has the fairly stout, wide-bodied look of a guy that could earn a nice living as a big league catcher. But that may not become his ultimate position. His bat is solid, and his offense is Major League ready. However, he still needs work as a backstop. Perhaps, he'll end up as an outfielder, but the Cubs seem set at those positions.

Schwarber went to Middletown High School (Ohio). He was a star linebacker on the football team. Even with an outstanding batting average, he wasn't selected in the First-Year Player Draft following graduation. He did, however attend Indiana University, and his bat made a tremendous statement.

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Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Castro's extra work pays off in wild win

Shortstop snaps 0-for-9 skid with two-run single in Monday's win over Rox

Castro's extra work pays off in wild win

CHICAGO -- About five hours before first pitch Monday, Cubs manager Joe Maddon, hitting coach John Mallee and Starlin Castro were in the batting cage on the field, trying to find a way to get the shortstop back on track. Castro entered the game against the Rockies batting .139 in July.

"I just wanted to go out there and reinforce what they've been talking about, show some confidence directly to Starlin," Maddon said. "It was a good workout and I like what [Castro] did. We'll see if he can carry it over into 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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bryant hits walk-off blast to lift Cubs

Bryant hits walk-off blast to lift Cubs

CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant belted a two-run walk-off homer with two outs in the ninth Monday night to power the Cubs to a 9-8 victory over the Rockies, who had scored four runs in their half of the inning.

The Rockies got another shock after the game as five-time All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and pitcher LaTroy Hawkins were reportedly traded to the Blue Jays for four-time All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes and prospects.

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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. Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Epstein's focus unchanged despite tough stretch

Cubs looking for rotation help, veteran bat at Trade Deadline

Epstein's focus unchanged despite tough stretch

CHICAGO -- Getting swept by the Phillies and falling further back in the Wild Card standings hasn't changed how Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein approaches Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

"We'd really like to [make a deal], but it's impossible to say," Epstein said Monday. "If we do something on the bigger end, it will involve players who will help us beyond this year. If we do something on the smaller side, it will probably be more for a rental player.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Rizzo, Bryant named to list of Top-25-and-Unders

Rizzo, Bryant named to list of Top-25-and-Unders

If we had to pinpoint the one theme of this 2015 season that stands out above all others, it's unquestionably the dominating impact and the infusion of youth on the Major League scene. Never was this more evident than on Monday night when 23-year-old Cubs rookie Kris Bryant cracked his first career walk-off homer into the Wrigley Field bleachers to give the Cubs a dramatic 9-8 win against the Rockies.

And just an hour or so before Bryant's blast landed, the mere suggestion that the Dodgers might consider trading 24-year-old Yasiel Puig turned social media upside down.

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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ross pitches perfect ninth, homers for Cubs

Backup catcher gives bullpen a break in second career appearance on mound

Ross pitches perfect ninth, homers for Cubs

CHICAGO -- There are two baseballs in their own glass cases on the top shelf of catcher David Ross' locker. One came after he threw a perfect eighth inning on May 9 against the Brewers. The other was waiting on his chair when he arrived in the Cubs' clubhouse on Sunday.

For the second time this season, Ross threw a perfect inning of relief, this one in the ninth inning of an 11-5 loss to the Phillies. But this time, Ross added a home run in the same frame.

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

Optimistic Maddon riding out rough stretch

Cubs swept by Phillies at home, but manager likes club's energy

Optimistic Maddon riding out rough stretch

CHICAGO -- When the Cubs began their weekend series, they were in line to make the playoffs as the second National League Wild Card team. After Chicago was swept by the last-place Phillies, the Giants have jumped ahead in the Wild Card standings. Fans may be panicking, but not manager Joe Maddon.

"You win the first night here [on Friday], and all of a sudden, we're printing tickets for the playoffs," Maddon said after the Cubs lost, 11-5, to the Phillies on Sunday. "It didn't play out that way."

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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 hit 3 homers, but Hammel gets tagged

Cubs hit 3 homers, but Hammel gets tagged

CHICAGO -- Aaron Nola didn't need to throw a no-hitter to shut down the Cubs on Sunday at Wrigley Field. Maikel Franco and Ryan Howard each hit two-run homers and Domonic Brown had four RBIs to back Nola, who picked up his first big league win in his second career start as the Phillies romped, 11-5.

Nola gave up five hits, including a two-run homer by Addison Russell in the eighth, over 7 2/3 innings for the win to help the Phillies post their third sweep this season, and first on the road. They're now 8-1 since the All-Star break.

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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. Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs shake off no-no, treat it like normal loss

Hamels' effort marked first no-hitter against Chicago since 1965

Cubs shake off no-no, treat it like normal loss

CHICAGO -- When Kris Bryant flied out to left field in the first inning Saturday, he thought the ball had a chance to land in the bleachers. Same thing with the ball the Cubs' rookie hit to center off the Phillies' Cole Hamels with two outs in the ninth. But that ball ended up in center fielder Odubel Herrera's glove to end the game and preserve Hamels' no-hitter.

"The wind changed directions after [batting practice]," Bryant said Sunday. "It could've been a completely different game. ... The wind is a big factor here, and I'm slowly learning 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.