Cubs search for late-game improvement

Chicago allows three runs in 8th to give Kansas City lead, aims to bounce back

Cubs search for late-game improvement

CHICAGO -- The difference between where the Cubs are and where the Royals are was clear in the eighth inning Friday.

Kansas City scored three runs in the eighth to snap a 4-4 tie, taking advantage of a leadoff walk issued by Pedro Strop and an error by center fielder Dexter Fowler. Royals reliever Wade Davis then struck out the side in the Chicago eighth, and the Royals went on to win, 8-4.

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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' homers not enough vs. Royals

Cubs' homers not enough vs. Royals

CHICAGO -- Lorenzo Cain hit a tie-breaking RBI double in the eighth, and Alcides Escobar, Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez each smacked solo homers to power the Royals to a 8-4 victory Friday over the Cubs, who were playing their first Interleague series.

Cain connected off Pedro Strop, driving in Mike Moustakas, who had walked to lead off the eighth. Two more Royals runs scored that inning on an error by center fielder Dexter Fowler, who dropped Omar Infante's fly ball.

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Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. 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. Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arrieta serves up three homers to aggressive KC

Last time righty did so was Sept. 13, 2013, against the Bucs

Arrieta serves up three homers to aggressive KC

CHICAGO -- Jake Arrieta knew the Royals would be aggressive early and tried to groove a fastball past leadoff batter Alcides Escobar. No chance.

Escobar hit his second homer of the season off the first pitch of the game Friday, one of three solo home runs off Arrieta, to help the Royals beat the Cubs, 8-4, Friday in the first game of an Interleague series.

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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.

Wada faces Royals looking for first 2015 win

Wada faces Royals looking for first 2015 win

Cubs starter Tsuyoshi Wada and Royals starter Yordano Ventura both enter Saturday's contest looking for one thing: run support. Both starters enter after their respective offense delivered one run in their last outing.

Ventura, carrying a 4.64 ERA, has had his defense to back him up, though, and he will again rely on left fielder Alex Gordon's 1.000 fielding percentage plus first baseman Eric Hosmer's .998 and catcher Salvador Perez's .997. The trio ranks in the top 10 of the league in fielding percentage.

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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.

Hammel's start pushed back to Sunday's finale

Righty being given day of extra rest for cracked fingernail on right hand

Hammel's start pushed back to Sunday's finale

CHICAGO -- The Cubs have switched their starting pitchers for the remaining two games against the Royals to give Jason Hammel one extra day to heal a cracked fingernail on his right hand.

Hammel was originally scheduled to start on Saturday in the second game of the three-game Interleague series, but he will flip with lefty Tsuyoshi Wada. Hammel now will start Sunday in the series finale.

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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.

Former Cubs manager Sveum returns with Royals

Kansas City's hitting coach sees Wrigley Field's renovations for first time

Former Cubs manager Sveum returns with Royals

CHICAGO -- Dale Sveum was back at Wrigley Field on Friday for the first time since he was dismissed as Cubs manager after the 2013 season, and he said it didn't really feel weird. After all, he feels he's spent more time at the ballpark as a visiting player or coach than as a manager.

Now in his second season as the Royals' hitting coach, Sveum is coming off a trip to the World Series last year with the American League champions. It was a wild ride.

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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 command comes success for Hendricks

Guidance from Hammel helping cerebral Cubs right-hander settle into groove

With command comes success for Hendricks

CHICAGO -- Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel knows how confident he felt after his first career shutout.

"I walked away from that, and I had a real big chest and was feeling really good about myself," said Hammel, whose only shutout came in his sixth season, on June 16, 2012, against the Braves. "It's what you work for. The starter wants to finish every time."

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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's 10 K's go unsupported by Cubs

Lester's 10 K's go unsupported by Cubs

CHICAGO -- Bryce Harper belted his National League-leading 18th home run and Max Scherzer outdueled Jon Lester on Wednesday night to lead the Nationals to a 3-0 victory over the Cubs and a series win.

Scherzer struck out 13, two shy of his career best, and scattered five hits over seven innings for the win, while Lester fanned 10 over seven innings and took his first loss in six May starts. This was the fourth meeting between the two pitchers; Scherzer now leads, 3-1.

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

Lester vs. Scherzer anything but ordinary

Lester vs. Scherzer anything but ordinary

CHICAGO -- Jon Lester prepares to pitch against Max Scherzer the same as if he were to face a journeyman hurler making an emergency start. But Lester vs. Scherzer is anything but ordinary.

The two pitchers combined for 23 strikeouts on Wednesday, with Scherzer coming out ahead in the win column as the Nationals topped the Cubs, 3-0, at Wrigley Field.

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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

Phil Rogers

In duel of winter prizes, no topping Scherzer

Lester on his game, but Nats' ace fans 13 Cubs in finale of hard-fought set

In duel of winter prizes, no topping Scherzer

CHICAGO -- You've got to beat the best to be the best. Joe Maddon says it all the time, and the chance was right there for the manager and his Cubs during Wednesday's 3-0 loss to the Nationals. But let it be known that the belt, as it were, stays with Max Scherzer and the Nats.

On an idyllic night in one of baseball's great old shrines, Scherzer showed the Cubs that he's not just the guy who was the best pitcher in the American League in 2013. He's mounting a challenge at Clayton Kershaw to become the best arm in the game. Period.

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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 Minor Leaguer makes a diving, game-saving catch

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Cubs Minor Leaguer makes a diving, game-saving catch

Cubs Minor League outfielder Jacob Hannemann stood in left field during the 12th inning of Thursday's Double-A matchup between the Tennessee Smokies and Mobile Bay Bears. The Bay Bears had loaded the bases with two outs, and Brandon Drury, the D-backs' No. 6 prospect, was at the plate.

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Maddon says youth behind Cubs' errors

Maddon says youth behind Cubs' errors

CHICAGO -- Neither of Starlin Castro's two errors on Wednesday night led to a run in the Cubs' 3-0 loss to the Nationals, but they aren't something manager Joe Maddon wants to see too much of.

Castro, who now has 11 errors this season, second most in the National League, had made just three miscues in his last 16 games prior to 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.

Cubs well represented in NL ASG vote

Cubs well represented in NL ASG vote

CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Starlin Castro are each second at their respective positions in the first 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot results, released on Wednesday.

"Obviously, people are paying attention to us," manager Joe Maddon said of the young players on the ballot. "I think it's deserved. ... It's a validation of how well we've been playing, and [how] they've been playing individually. It's good to have that recognition come our 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.

Theo thinks the kids are all right

Theo thinks the kids are all right

CHICAGO -- The Cubs have three rookies in the lineup -- Addison Russell, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler -- and Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, likes how the kids are doing so far.

"These guys are handling themselves on and off the field in a manner well beyond their years," Epstein said on Wednesday. "When you see the quality at-bats they're having, the great plays they're making, and they're participating in some winning baseball, it's easy to forget how hard it is for young position players to have any kind of success in 2015 Major League Baseball.

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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 wows Wrigley with mammoth home run

Third baseman hits 477-foot blast to tie Tuesday's game vs. Nats

Bryant wows Wrigley with mammoth home run

CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant hit some long home runs at Bonanza High School in Las Vegas and his father, Mike, will tell you that he launched one 600 feet over a light tower at Fowler Field in San Diego. On Tuesday, Bryant belted a game-tying home run that left the 30,440 at Wrigley Field stirring and may have dented the left-field video board.

Bryant hit a game-tying home run leading off the eighth inning, and Addison Russell delivered a walk-off RBI double with two outs in the ninth in the Cubs' 3-2 win over the Nationals.

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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.

Russell delivers game-winner to beat Nats

Russell delivers game-winner to beat Nats

CHICAGO -- Jonathan Herrera scored on a walk-off double by Addison Russell with two outs in the ninth to lift the Cubs to a 3-2 victory over the Nationals and even the series. It was Chicago's 23rd one-run game and fifth walk-off win, both tops in the Major Leagues.

With the game tied at 2 and one out against Matt Grace, Chris Coghlan singled to center, but was forced at second on Herrera's grounder. Herrera was safe as shortstop Ian Desmond threw the ball high for an error. Russell then doubled into the gap in right-center.

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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. John Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.TV unveils new media player, price drop

MLB.TV unveils new media player, price drop

Along with the new Web-based media player (version 5.0) that was introduced this week by Major League Baseball Advanced Media, there is another new reason to sign up now to watch live out-of-market games. The cost of a yearly subscription was lowered on Friday to $99.99 for MLB.TV Premium and $79.99 for MLB.TV.

This is the final weekend of May, and the price drop for MLB.TV reflects the fact that nearly a third of the regular season is in the books. The new HD media player has an in-page layout, so it all happens in your browser with no need for an additional download, and the new game scoreboard will make it easier to track games.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Rogers: Scherzer, Lester provide early return on deals

Ace hurlers face off Wednesday in meeting of big free-agent signings

Rogers: Scherzer, Lester provide early return on deals

CHICAGO -- They were the two must-have starting pitchers in last winter's free-agent crop, signing contracts that accounted for almost 56 percent of the money going to the 10 starters who got multiyear deals.

It's going to be a while before economists and baseball historians figure whether Max Scherzer and Jon Lester were worth the investment. But before they meet on Wednesday night, we can draw some early conclusions:

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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.

Young Addison playing like seasoned veteran

Second baseman wins game with double in 9th vs. Nats

Young Addison playing like seasoned veteran

CHICAGO -- Addison Russell had a feeling before he collected his career-high third hit of the game, and before he hit a walk-off RBI double in the ninth inning that Tuesday night was going to be a big game.

With Jonathan Herrera on second base in the ninth and the game tied, Russell took a ball deep to right-center field to drive in the game-winner and give the Cubs a 3-2 victory over the Nationals. He's doing this at the age of 21.

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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.

Cubs being patient with hot-hitting Baez

Infielder batting .321 in 23 games at Triple-A Iowa in May

Cubs being patient with hot-hitting Baez

CHICAGO -- Javier Baez is on a roll, batting .321 in 23 games this month at Triple-A Iowa, but the infielder's success has not prompted the Cubs to want to promote him to the big league team right now.

"He's on a really good run right now," said Jason McLeod, Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development. "The mindset is there. He had to deal with a lot in the offseason on a professional level and certainly with what took place with his family. He's in a good place right now."

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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.

One-run games becoming habit for Cubs

Cubs had dropped four of five games decided by a run before Tuesday's win

One-run games becoming habit for Cubs

CHICAGO -- In a season where half of their games have come down to the wire, even the last week has been stressful for the Cubs and manager Joe Maddon. Tuesday night's walk-off win in the ninth probably didn't help.
 
In its last eight games, six of Chicago's outings have been decided by one run, where it is 2-4 in that span. Now, after Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Nationals, 23 of the Cubs' games this season have been decided by one run. They are 13-10 in those one-run games this year.

Addison Russell delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth on Tuesday for the Cubs' latest one-run victory.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

In Nats, Cubs catch glimpse of own future

Following path blazed by childhood friend Harper, Bryant has hopes high in Chicago

In Nats, Cubs catch glimpse of own future

CHICAGO -- Monday was a special day for baseball fans, especially those in Chicago. Despite a 2-1 loss to the Nationals, it marked the first Memorial Day game at Wrigley Field since 2009 that the ballpark was a gathering place for fans looking toward the summer with genuine excitement about their team for both this season and those ahead.

Washington fans had to know the feeling. It happened at Nationals Park in 2012, with Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg on the roster for the first time. And as the schedule makers had it, the Nationals were at Wrigley on Monday to start a stretch in which the Cubs will play 12 of 15 games against the Royals, Tigers and Nats (including four games in Washington).

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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.

Wada escapes jams, lifted due to matchups

Cubs starter limits Nationals in second start of season; Grimm serves up decisive blast in relief

Wada escapes jams, lifted due to matchups

CHICAGO -- Tsuyoshi Wada threw just 5 1/3 innings in his second start of the season, but he was able to limit the damage after allowing a leadoff home run in the Cubs' 2-1 loss to the Nationals on Monday afternoon.

The left-hander exited after getting Bryce Harper to pop out to start the sixth inning. Manager Joe Maddon went with right-handed reliever Justin Grimm, who got Ryan Zimmerman to ground out before Wilson Ramos hit a go-ahead home run.

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Sarah Trotto is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Growing up: Bryant forces issue in key at-bat

Rookie homers, prompts review which overturns call, giving Cubs fighting chance in ninth

Growing up: Bryant forces issue in key at-bat

CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant has settled into the Major Leagues after 36 games with the Chicago Cubs.

Bryant spoke up for himself after home-plate umpire Ryan Blakney initially ruled that he struck out on a foul tip to begin the bottom of the ninth in the Cubs' 2-1 loss to the Nationals on Monday afternoon. Bryant felt closer Drew Storen's pitch grazed his wrist.

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Sarah Trotto is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bryant's blast Cubs' lone run in loss to Nats

Bryant's blast Cubs' lone run in loss to Nats

CHICAGO -- The Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs will see a lot of each other in the near future, as they play seven games over two weeks. In their first meeting, the Nationals struck first, edging the Cubs, 2-1, on Memorial Day at Wrigley Field.

Denard Span and Wilson Ramos homered for the National League East-leading Nationals, while Tanner Roark started in place of the injured Doug Fister and allowed a run and three hits in five innings. Cubs starter Tsuyoshi Wada struck out six and allowed a run, four hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings in his second start after beginning the season on the disabled list. After Wada departed, Ramos hit a go-ahead solo homer off right-hander Justin Grimm in the sixth.

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John Jackson and Sarah Trotto are contributors to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Remember when? Harper, Bryant meet again

Nats, Cubs rising stars played ball together growing up; 'Silk' immediately sets bar with homer

Remember when? Harper, Bryant meet again

CHICAGO -- Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant grew up in Las Vegas and traveled in many of the same baseball circles as young players. But personality-wise, the two Major League rising stars almost appear as if they're from different planets. Bryant is mostly quiet and reserved, while Harper is not.

On Monday, before the Nationals beat the Cubs, 2-1, to open a three-game series at Wrigley Field, someone asked Harper if he had checked the flags on the center-field scoreboard to see if the wind was blowing in or out.

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John Jackson and Sarah Trotto are contributors to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.