Q quiets Crew; Cubs cut Central number to 2

Q quiets Crew; Cubs cut Central number to 2

MILWAUKEE -- There was no late drama this time. Jose Quintana and the Cubs made sure of that.

After a trio of 10-inning thrillers to begin this four-game showdown of National League Central contenders, Quintana surpassed 200 strikeouts on the way to his second career shutout, and Ben Zobrist and Anthony Rizzo delivered late two-run hits for a 5-0 win over the Brewers in Sunday's finale at steamy Miller Park.

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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on 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, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

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

Quintana's 3-hit shutout builds confidence

Cubs lefty preps for first shot at postseason with big win over Brewers

Quintana's 3-hit shutout builds confidence

MILWAUKEE -- Jose Quintana has never pitched in the postseason, so he's not exactly sure how it feels. On Sunday, he tuned up perfectly for the playoffs.

Quintana threw a three-hit shutout, the second shutout of his career, and helped the Cubs win the series with a 5-0 victory over the Brewers. The lefty struck out 10 and has reached 200 K's in a single season for the first time in his career.

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

Maddon respects players' right to self expression

Cubs manager responds to questions about national-anthem protests

Maddon respects players' right to self expression

MILWAUKEE -- Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell chose to kneel during the national anthem on Saturday in an effort to raise awareness about brutality and injustice at the hands of authorities. Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Sunday he does not have a rule for his players and respects individuals' rights to express themselves.

"I don't have [a rule]," Maddon said. "I think that's up to them. I've never really had a policy regarding being out for the anthem or not. A lot of times, guys like to do different things before the game begins. Sometimes you're on the road, you hit later, and you get in later, and your time is at a premium. I've never had a specific theory about the anthem."

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

Cubs, Cards likely to answer Central question

Cubs, Cards likely to answer Central question

No more scoreboard watching. The Cubs and Cardinals will be able to look each other in the eye as they battle for the National League Central, playing a four-game series at Busch Stadium, starting Monday night.

"It doesn't matter who we're playing," Chicago outfielder Jason Heyward said. "It just works out that we're playing the team it affects. The only thing I like is we are where we are. That's the quote-unquote 'comfort' to have. Other than that, we're just having fun. We still have to punch our ticket to get in."

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

Finals week: Wild tests facing NL Central

Cubs close to clinching; Brewers, Cardinals in pursuit

Finals week: Wild tests facing NL Central

MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs will have champagne on ice this week in St. Louis, ready to celebrate a second straight National League Central title. The Brewers and Cardinals have the NL Wild Card in their sights. And the Reds have a chance to play spoiler along the way.

There was still much to play for in the Central as the regular season rounded its final Sunday. Amid a Midwest heat wave, baseball fans in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis entered the final week longing for the crisp air of October.

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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Davis falters, Cubs miss chance to trim number

Davis falters, Cubs miss chance to trim number

MILWAUKEE -- "This is playoff baseball for us," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said after his team pulled off its most stunning victory of the season. If the actual playoffs prove this compelling, baseball fans everywhere are in for a treat.

In a third consecutive extra-inning thriller between two teams which have jockeyed in the National League Central, Orlando Arcia lined a tying leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth inning and Travis Shaw hit a walk-off two-run blast in the 10th as the Brewers twice rallied against lights-out Cubs closer Wade Davis for an improbable 4-3 win in front of a sellout crowd on Saturday at Miller Park.

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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on 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, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

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

Maddon: Davis not to be blamed for defeat

Closer's streak of consecutive saves ends at 38 with first blown chance as Cub

Maddon: Davis not to be blamed for defeat

MILWAUKEE -- Do not blame Wade Davis, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said emphatically after the closer blew his first save in more than a year, which resulted in a loss on Saturday to the Brewers.

Davis served up two home runs -- only the second time he's ever done that as a reliever and the second time this year -- in the Cubs' 4-3 loss to the Brewers in front of a sellout crowd of 44,067 at Miller Park. Orlando Arcia hit a game-tying homer leading off the Milwaukee ninth and Travis Shaw connected on a two-run shot with one out in the 10th for the walk-off win.

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

Jay impresses when down in the count

Jay impresses when down in the count

MILWAUKEE -- When Jon Jay fell behind, 0-2, against the Brewers' Brandon Woodruff to open the fifth inning on Friday, he wasn't fazed. The veteran outfielder took two pitches, then fouled off 10 in a row before he singled and eventually scored in the Cubs' 5-4, 10-inning win.

"Two strikes does not bother him," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He'll be 0-2, 1-2 a lot and the at-bat is not over. He does not cave in, he's able to move the ball. That's the throwback component of him that I really appreciate, which is how he works at-bats."

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

Baez's play-by-play skills are impressive

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Baez's play-by-play skills are impressive

Javier Baez is a man of many talents: He can judge a ball perfectly off a wall-bounce to snag Stephen Piscotty out at second base, he makes a very attractive baseball doll and it looks like he has a future as a play-by-play commentator.

During the Brewers' 4-3 walk-off win over the Cubs on Saturday, Baez grabbed the microphone and showed off his play-by-play talents during the top of the eighth inning with two outs and Wilson Contreras at the plate. We have no idea where the mic came from, but it looks like it was man-made.

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Edwards finishes strong night for Cubs' 'pen

Four relievers dispatch Brewers over 6 innings as Davis gets night off

Edwards finishes strong night for Cubs' 'pen

MILWAUKEE -- Carl Edwards Jr. did his best impression of Cubs closer Wade Davis and got that World Series feeling all over again on Friday night.

On Thursday night, Davis pitched 1 2/3 innings and picked up the win in the Cubs' 10-inning victory over the Brewers. The two teams needed extra innings again on Friday; only this time, manager Joe Maddon called on Edwards with one out in the ninth. The slender right-hander struck out the two batters he faced to end that inning, and pitched the 10th to notch the win in the Cubs' 5-4 victory.

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

Baez relieved to hear from family in PR

Maddon praises infielder's ability to handle difficult time

Baez relieved to hear from family in PR

MILWAUKEE -- Cubs infielder Javier Baez was relieved on Friday when he finally had a chance to talk to his brother, Gadiel, in Puerto Rico. Communication with family and friends has been nearly impossible since Hurricane Maria pummeled the island.

"I've been playing and doing my best to stay in the game, but my mind has been over there, trying to find out how my family is doing," said Baez, whose mother lives in Puerto Rico. "I talked to one of the lawyers over there, and he told me it was hard to get connected. He said everything was fine, everybody was just out of power. That calmed me down a little bit."

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

Cubs blow off steam with in-game 'retreat'

Cubs blow off steam with in-game 'retreat'

CHICAGO -- If you see the Cubs' players suddenly disappear from the dugout, don't worry. They're on a mini retreat. Anthony Rizzo apparently started it, but he didn't want to take credit.

"It's not just me, it's anyone who needs to let out some steam this late in the season," Rizzo said Friday. "It's a team thing. It's a long season, and you go through ups and downs, and there's times when you get to that boiling point and you want to kill anything in your way. It happens about 25 times a year. Now in September, we've come up with a team thing where we're all in it together."

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

Cubs nip Crew in 10, clip magic number to 5

Cubs nip Crew in 10, clip magic number to 5

MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs found themselves another step closer to clinching the National League Central. The Brewers found themselves in third place.

Pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella worked a bases-loaded walk from Brewers All-Star closer Corey Knebel in the top of the 10th inning, and Carl Edwards Jr. finished a 5-4 Cubs win on Friday night at Miller Park in the teams' second straight extra-innings thriller.

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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

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

Goodnight, Kris! Cubs great late vs. Crew

Goodnight, Kris! Cubs great late vs. Crew

MILWAUKEE -- This was not the postseason, but it sure felt that way Thursday night at Miller Park as the Cubs and the Brewers traded late-inning blows in Milwaukee's most charged September ballgame in years.

Javier Baez hit a tying two-out RBI single in the ninth, Wade Davis escaped a bases-loaded jam to force extra innings and Kris Bryant's two-run home run in the 10th sent Chicago to a 5-3 win in the opener of a four-game series that could decide the National League Central.

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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

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

Arrieta looks, feels strong in return to mound

In first start since Sept. 4 due to hamstring strain, Cubs' righty allows one run in five innings

Arrieta looks, feels strong in return to mound

MILWAUKEE -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon admitted he did not know what to expect from Jake Arrieta, who was back on the mound Thursday night at Miller Park for the first time since Sept. 4, when he exited his start against the Pirates due to a right hamstring strain. Turns out the Cubs' right-hander is just fine.

Arrieta did not get a decision in the Cubs' come-from-behind 5-3 victory over the Brewers, but his outing was encouraging as Chicago closes in on a third straight postseason berth and second straight division title. With the win, the Cubs have a 4 1/2-game lead over the Brewers in the National League Central with 10 games to play.

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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.

Replay mania: 5 reviews in Cubs-Crew thriller

Replay mania: 5 reviews in Cubs-Crew thriller

MILWAUKEE -- There were two plays at first base, one at third and one at home plate, plus a near home run to boot. The Cubs and Brewers kept Major League Baseball's replay center busy while they battled for the National League Central on Thursday night at Miller Park.

Five times on the way to the Cubs' 5-3 win in 10 innings crew chief Dana DeMuth donned the headset near the visitors' dugout. Here's a rundown of the close plays that dotted a thriller:

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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

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

Rivera's family fine after Maria hits Puerto Rico

Cubs catcher says P.R. is 'destroyed' and 'it's not safe' to be out of your house

Rivera's family fine after Maria hits Puerto Rico

MILWAUKEE -- Communication with family and friends in Puerto Rico has been difficult since Hurricane Maria ripped through the island, but Cubs catcher Rene Rivera was able to talk briefly to his mother on Thursday to get an update.

"They're fine, they're in the house," Rivera said. "[I could talk] only for a little bit because phone service was coming and going. They're trying to fix it. They're trying to fix the towers.

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

Maddon: 'Unfamiliar' outing from Lester

Maddon: 'Unfamiliar' outing from Lester

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jon Lester says there's nothing physically wrong, but the Cubs left-hander wasn't sharp on Wednesday night and no one had an explanation for it.

Lester scattered eight hits over 4 1/3 innings in the Cubs' 8-1 loss to the Rays, did not strike out a batter and walked three. It was his fourth start since coming off the disabled list due to fatigue in his left shoulder. This was not a recurrence of that problem, Lester 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.

Lester struggles as Cubs' Central push slowed

Lester struggles as Cubs' Central push slowed

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Cubs' winning streak, Chicago's Interleague schedule and Joe Maddon's homecoming parade all ended on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field.

Steven Souza Jr. smacked his 30th home run, Wilson Ramos added a two-run single and Blake Snell threw seven scoreless innings to spark the Rays to an 8-1 victory over the Cubs and split the Interleague series.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

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.

Montgomery flashes no-hit stuff in fill-in start

Montgomery flashes no-hit stuff in fill-in start

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Mike Montgomery is the super utility man of the Cubs' pitching staff.

On Tuesday, the left-hander made his 13th start, a last-minute switch after being in the bullpen over the weekend, and threw five no-hit innings before serving up a solo home run to Brad Miller. That's all the offense the Rays got in Chicago's 2-1 win at Tropicana Field.

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

Maddon honored by Rays in return to St. Pete

Maddon honored by Rays in return to St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG -- Joe Maddon returned to Tropicana Field on Tuesday night. The Rays' icon fashioned a Cubs uniform, bringing along his customary smile and friendly manner to the place where he helped produce magic as Tampa Bay's manager.

"A lot of memories," Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said. "A lot of good moments with Joe here. He turned the culture around, so I think this organization has him to thank for that."

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs win 7th straight in Maddon's Trop return

Cubs win 7th straight in Maddon's Trop return

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It was a sweet homecoming for Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

Kyle Schwarber hit a monster home run and substitute starter Mike Montgomery gave up one hit -- a solo homer by Brad Miller -- over six innings to spark the Cubs to a 2-1 Interleague victory over the Rays on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.

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

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

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

Alfonso Soriano has been hitting the weights

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Alfonso Soriano has been hitting the weights

Retired baseball players take many different paths in their post-playing lives. Some stick around as coaches or scouts while others get away from the game. Some take advantage of no longer being a professional athlete by pursuing, let's say, a less rigorous fitness routine while others work out with similar intensity as before.

Former Cub and seven-time All-Star Alfonso Soriano showed up at Tropicana Field to take in Tuesday's game between the Cubs and Rays and the evidence strongly suggests he's continued to work out in his retirement. According to the Cubs broadcast, he's found a willing -- and motivated -- workout partner in former manager Lou Piniella.

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Contreras, Russell being eased back in

Contreras, Russell being eased back in

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Cubs catcher Willson Contreras and shortstop Addison Russell played a full nine innings for the first time during Tuesday night's 2-1 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field. Before the game, manager Joe Maddon said he's trying to ease both back and keep them healthy for possible postseason play.

A strained right hamstring sidelined Contreras for one month, while Russell sat out from Aug. 3 until Saturday because of a right foot strain. Both have returned to the lineup, but they have been pulled early.

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

Davis not concerned with save streak

After impressive outings against Cardinals, closer focused on winning games

Davis not concerned with save streak

CHICAGO -- Wade Davis was more concerned about his fantasy football team after he picked up his 31st save on Sunday. That pretty much sums up the Cubs closer, who would prefer to count his saves once the season is over, which he's hoping won't be until sometime in November.

Davis is a perfect 31-for-31 in save situations, and keeps extending the Cubs' franchise record with every successful outing. He pitched all three games against the Cardinals, which the Cubs swept at Wrigley Field to maintain a four-game lead over the Brewers in the National League Central Division. Davis needed the work. He had last pitched on Sept. 10.

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

Cubs' 6th straight win has Cards 6 back

Cubs' 6th straight win has Cards 6 back

CHICAGO -- After sweeping the Cardinals at Wrigley Field, what's the Cubs' theme for their next road trip? It's may be cliche, but it's "one game at a time." Chicago manager Joe Maddon and his players weren't giddy or gloating after winning their sixth in a row on Sunday, an intense 4-3 victory that sent St. Louis to six games back in the National League Central.

"We're just going one at a time, one game at a time, especially where we're at," said Kyle Schwarber, who hit his 27th home run in the win. "We're taking it day by day, pitch by pitch."

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Getting it Duensing! Lefty delivers

Getting it Duensing! Lefty delivers

CHICAGO -- The Cardinals tested the Cubs' pitching all day on Sunday, but the biggest at-bat may have come in the eighth inning when Chicago manager Joe Maddon made it tough on reliever Brian Duensing.

The Cubs led, 4-3, after Jason Heyward's tiebreaking RBI single in the seventh. Duensing took over in the eighth and with two outs, walked Kolten Wong, then gave up a single to Randal Grichuk. Maddon chose to intentionally walk pinch-hitter Stephen Piscotty so Duensing would have to face Matt Carpenter.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Rogers: Cubs' success has been a team effort

Epstein and Co.'s shrewdness after amassing depth paying off

Rogers: Cubs' success has been a team effort

CHICAGO -- Justin Verlander helped his team clinch a division title on Sunday, celebrating about 1,100 miles away from Wrigley Field.

He was pitching for the Astros, not the Cubs, of course. One of the reasons why he's pitching for Houston: Theo Epstein wouldn't send any members of his core group of young Major Leaguers to the Tigers as part of a package to get Verlander.

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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.