Bryant Kris-crosses all over the field

Bryant Kris-crosses all over the field

CHICAGO -- When Joe Maddon talked to Kris Bryant last year about moving from third base to the outfield from time to time, he cautioned the then-rookie about not changing the way he throws. The Cubs' manager didn't want Bryant to injure his right arm.

Maddon, however, didn't give Bryant a heads-up about the long run to the outfield.

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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.

Contreras among Cubs prospects opening eyes

Contreras among Cubs prospects opening eyes

CHICAGO -- Ben Zobrist isn't just helping the Cubs, he's influencing the Minor League system as well.

Zobrist, who celebrated his 35th birthday on Thursday, leads the National League in on-base percentage (.453), and he's ranked among the top three in batting average (.346). Zobrist has reached safely in his last 31 starts -- he went 3-for-5 on Wednesday against the Cardinals -- and getting on base is a message Andy Haines, the Cubs' Minor League hitting coordinator, is trying to emphasize to prospects.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs outslug Cards as Arrieta moves to 9-0

Cubs outslug Cards as Arrieta moves to 9-0

ST. LOUIS -- The intrigue wasn't over, as many may have expected, when the Cubs handed their starter, Jake Arrieta, a five-run second-inning lead. But despite their ambitious comeback against a pitcher who hasn't lost in 10 months, the Cardinals fell short of flipping the results on Wednesday afternoon. Instead, Chicago escaped Busch Stadium with a 9-8 victory and second series win over its rivals this season.

The Cubs also extended their regular-season winning streak behind Arrieta to 23 games, tying a Major League record set by the Braves behind Kris Medlen.

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

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

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

Bryant dialing up power with regularity on road

Bryant dialing up power with regularity on road

ST. LOUIS -- There's no place like the road for the Cubs' Kris Bryant.

Bryant hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning to help the Cubs beat the Cardinals, 9-8, on Wednesday at Busch Stadium. It was his fourth home run on the nine-game road trip and raised his season total to 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. 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.

Torres among top prospect performers Wednesday

Torres among top prospect performers Wednesday

Wednesday's slate of Minor League action saw four Top 30 prospects connect on a pair of home runs on a day where the ball seemed to be flying out of the yard across all levels.

Orioles No. 24 prospect Alex Murphy became the first of the group to accomplish the feat by going 2-for-4 with two solo shots in Class A Delmarva's afternoon loss to Greensboro. The 21-year-old catcher has already set a new career-high with five home runs this season and owns a solid .283/.358/.440 batting line in 42 games for the Shorebirds. Next up was ... 

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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.

Cubs win 23rd straight behind Arrieta to tie mark

Cubs win 23rd straight behind Arrieta to tie mark

ST. LOUIS -- Will Jake Arrieta ever lose a game?

"I hope not," manager Joe Maddon said a few hours before Arrieta improved to 9-0 this season after the Cubs held on for a 9-8 victory over the Cardinals on Wednesday at Busch Stadium. The Cubs now have won Arrieta's last 23 starts -- a franchise record and tying the Major League mark set by the Braves behind Kris Medlen in 2012 -- and he is the first Cubs starter to open a season 9-0 since Ken Holtzman did so in 1967.

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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 tries to stay perfect in career vs. Phils

Lester tries to stay perfect in career vs. Phils

The Phillies open a three-game series at Wrigley Field on Friday, with Adam Morgan (1-2, 5.61 ERA) taking the mound against Cubs left-hander Jon Lester (4-3, 2.60 ERA).

Morgan gave up two runs in six innings in his last start against the Braves, a bounce-back performance after giving up seven earned runs on eight hits against the Reds in the outing before that. He's faced the Cubs only once in his career, losing to them last season after allowing four runs on seven hits over five innings.

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

Grimm takes 'defensive highlight' off bucket list

Grimm takes 'defensive highlight' off bucket list

ST. LOUIS -- Cubs reliever Justin Grimm is a hockey fan as long as the Chicago Blackhawks are playing, and he made a nifty Blackhawks-worthy glove save on Tuesday night and crossed another item off his bucket list when he snared Aledmys Diaz's grounder between his legs.

"I've always wanted to do that, whether it's behind the back, between the legs," Grimm said after the Cubs' 12-3 win over the Cardinals. "I actually told the umpire that. It was pretty cool little 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.

Hammel helps own cause against Cardinals

Hammel helps own cause against Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- Before Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel even took the mound on Tuesday night, he had hit a two-run double to extend his personal hitting streak to three games, brought his RBI total to a career-high five and had a six-run cushion.

"I think it makes every pitcher better," Hammel said of the 6-0 lead he had en route to a 12-3 win over the Cardinals. "It's nice to have room for error. That's what run support does. I took my first swing before I threw my first pitch."

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs' 15-hit attack polishes Hammel's gem

Cubs' 15-hit attack polishes Hammel's gem

ST. LOUIS -- Any chance the Cardinals had of rolling over momentum from their series-opening walk-off win evaporated before they could send their first batter to the plate on Tuesday, as the Cubs opened the night with a six-run first and then cruised to a 12-3 victory that evened the three-game set at Busch Stadium.

The Cubs sent 10 batters to the plate in the opening frame against Cardinals starter Michael Wacha, who walked home a run and allowed five hits in the 36-pitch inning. He was so shaky that manager Mike Matheny had Tyler Lyons begin warming up before Wacha had recorded his second out. Two-run doubles by David Ross and Jason Hammel -- the first of which center fielder Randal Grichuk nearly caught to keep the deficit at two -- punctuated the first six-run first inning the Cubs posted against the Cardinals since 1994.

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

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

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

Happ, Jimenez among top prospect performers Tuesday

Happ, Jimenez among top prospect performers Tuesday

Rhys Hoskins has hit his share of home runs this season, but none have been bigger than the walk-off grand slam he hit Tuesday to lead Double-A Reading past Erie, 11-9.

The Fightin' Phils (30-15) loaded the bases in the ninth inning on a pair of walks and a single to set the stage for Hoskins, who blasted right-hander Paul Voelker's 1-0 offering over the wall in left-center field to win the game. The home run was the Phillies' No. 19 prospect's eighth in 42 games this season. He's hitting .263 with 30 runs scored and 30 RBIs on the season.

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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.

Heyward deemed ready, back in Cubs' lineup

Heyward deemed ready, back in Cubs' lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Jason Heyward still has some soreness on his right side, but he was good enough to play on Tuesday and was back in the Cubs' lineup for the first time since he crashed into the center-field wall in San Francisco's AT&T Park on Friday. He went 0-for-5 with a walk and a stolen base in the Cubs' 12-3 win.

"I know something happened, but I'm OK," Heyward said prior to the game. "I'm plenty good enough 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.

Maddon confident Rizzo will get through funk

Maddon confident Rizzo will get through funk

ST. LOUIS -- Anthony Rizzo is among the National League leaders in RBIs and home runs, but he's been in a funk during the Cubs' current road trip.

"He's probably trying to do too much, no question," manager Joe Maddon said of Rizzo, who entered Tuesday's game 2-for-27 in the last seven games. "Regardless of how much you tell him not to do it, he'll still do that. It's just the nature of guys like him.

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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.

Lackey loses lead, Cubs lose Central ground

Lackey loses lead, Cubs lose Central ground

ST. LOUIS -- With a walk-off home run by Randal Grichuk, the Cardinals completed a 4-3, come-from-behind win on Monday to carve into the Cubs' lead in the National League Central. The victory, which came in front of a sellout crowd at Busch Stadium, pulled the Cardinals to within six games of the Cubs, the closest they've been since the second day of May.

Grichuk's first career walk-off home run came off reliever Adam Warren, who had retired the first five batters he faced to pull the Cubs to within one strike of extra innings. It also came a half-inning after Chicago advanced the potential go-ahead run to third with one out, but the runner was erased on a double play that helped Trevor Rosenthal out of a jam.

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

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

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

Maturing Zobrist playing with youthful vigor

Maturing Zobrist playing with youthful vigor

ST. LOUIS -- Second baseman Ben Zobrist celebrates his 35th birthday on Thursday, but he's playing as if he's 25.

Zobrist notched his fifth three-hit game of the season on Monday in the Cubs' 4-3 loss to the Cardinals. He's reached safely in each of his last 29 starts, and has hit safely in 30 of 40 games.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs not worried after 3rd straight loss

Inability to cash in on scoring chances a factor in opener vs. Cards

Cubs not worried after 3rd straight loss

ST. LOUIS -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon knows the baseball season has its cycles, and right now the Cubs are scuffling. For the first time this season, they have lost three in a row, dropping a 4-3 decision on Monday night to the Cardinals, who won on Randal Grichuk's walk-off homer with two outs in the ninth.

"We pitched well, we had good at-bats -- unable to drive in a run obviously really hurt us, but it's another good baseball game," Maddon said. "Games like that you say, 'Our pitchers only made one or two mistakes, and they beat you,' and it's true. They hit two mistakes out of the ballpark, and we lose."

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs release veteran outfielder Victorino

Cubs release veteran outfielder Victorino

ST. LOUIS -- The Cubs feel that veteran outfielder Shane Victorino is Major League-ready, but they don't have a spot for him, so he was released on Monday.

Victorino, 35, signed a Minor League deal with the Cubs in Spring Training but was bothered by a strained left calf. He eventually joined Triple-A Iowa and batted .233 in nine games with five RBIs.

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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.

Lilly to represent Cubs at 2016 Draft

Lilly to represent Cubs at 2016 Draft

ST. LOUIS -- Former Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly will represent the team at the MLB Draft, to be held June 9-11. The Cubs do not have a pick until No. 104, in the third round.

The Cardinals will have the 33rd and 34th overall picks as compensation for John Lackey and Jason Heyward signing with the Cubs, since both received qualifying offers from St. Louis. By signing the pair, the Cubs forfeited their first and second-round selections.

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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.

Hendricks takes tough loss in pitching duel

Hendricks takes tough loss in pitching duel

SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner dominated Sunday's nationally televised confrontation of National League division leaders, permitting three hits in 7 2/3 innings and doubling home the game's lone run to lead the San Francisco Giants past the Chicago Cubs, 1-0.

The Cubs, whose fast start earned them the Major Leagues' best record, dropped two of three games to the NL West-leading Giants and have lost seven of their last 11 games overall, including two straight on the road for the first time.

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Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Sunday.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

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

Maddon not concerned about 'bad moment'

Cubs still own Majors' best record after series loss in San Francisco

Maddon not concerned about 'bad moment'

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Chicago Cubs still have the best record in baseball despite losing seven of their last 11 games, including Sunday's 1-0 setback to the San Francisco Giants, and two straight on the road for the first time this year.

That's the reason Cubs manager Joe Maddon can't be too upset as his team gathers up its belongings and heads to St. Louis for a three-game series against the Cardinals.

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Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bullpen of the Week: Cubs' Wood does it all

Bullpen of the Week: Cubs' Wood does it all

This week marked the toughest of the 2016 calendar so far for the Chicago Cubs, as the team went just 2-4 to mark their first losing week of the season.

But while the Cubs' lineup has struggled lately to produce, the team's relievers have kept them in ballgames. Beginning Tuesday, five of Chicago's past six games have been decided by two runs or less. Those efforts by the Cubs' bullpen solidified their status as Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford.

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

Half-cub, half-human figure paddles in McCovey Cove

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Half-cub, half-human figure paddles in McCovey Cove

Everybody was on time for Sunday's Cubs-Giants game at AT&T Park -- the players, the coaches, the broadcasters ... 

But there was one Cubs fan out in McCovey Cove who was running late in the bottom of the first inning. We're not exactly sure what to call the fan. Posslby a bear cub. Potentially a human. Neverless, like any of us who are tardy to a ballgame, it was trying very hard to get to the field as quickly as possible.

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Cubs trio among Sunday's top prospect performers

Righty K's eight over four scoreless frames for Cardinals' Triple-A club

Cubs trio among Sunday's top prospect performers

Alex Reyes did not disappoint in his highly anticipated season and Triple-A debut on Sunday, as the No. 11 overall prospect allowed just two hits (both singles) in four scoreless innings to pace Memphis in an 8-1 win over Fresno. He recorded eight strikeouts -- matching the season-high for a Redbirds starting pitcher -- against three walks, with 48 of his 85 pitches going for strikes.

The Cardinals' No. 1 prospect fanned a two Memphis hitters in the first inning and then struck out the side in the following frame, while pitching around a pair of walks. He punched out three more hitters across his final two innings, including back-to-back called third strikes to end the third after he had allowed the first two batters to reach base.

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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.

Cubs can't catch up after starter's early exit

Cubs can't catch up after starter's early exit

SAN FRANCISCO -- Continuing to blossom in May, the San Francisco Giants received an all-around effort from Matt Cain as they evened their three-game showdown against the Chicago Cubs with a 5-3 triumph Saturday.

The Giants, whose .700 winning percentage (14-6) is the best in the Major Leagues this month, relied heavily on Cain (1-5). The right-hander yielded Kris Bryant's solo homer among six hits in six innings to gain his first victory since July 22. Since then, he had posted an 0-8 mark and a 6.27 ERA in 17 starts. Cain also hit a two-run, second-inning double off Jon Lester (4-3), who lasted just 2 2/3 innings and became the first Cubs starter to fall short of completing five innings this season.

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Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Saturday.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

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

Lester's short day a rarity for Cubs' rotation

Lester's short day a rarity for Cubs' rotation

SAN FRANCISCO -- Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo thinks the pitching staff doesn't get enough credit for what the team has accomplished through 40 games.

Jon Lester lasted just 2 2/3 innings in the Cubs' 5-3 loss to the Giants on Saturday, the first time all year a Chicago pitcher failed to go at least five innings.

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Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Candelario among top prospect performers Saturday

Cubs' prospect has career-high seven RBIs in win

Candelario among top prospect performers Saturday

Double-A Tennessee pulled off a dramatic comeback win Saturday night as they scored nine times in the seventh and eighth innings to defeat Biloxi, 10-9.

At the center of the Smokies' late-inning rallies was third baseman Jeimer Candelario, who went 4-for-5 at the plate with a pair of doubles and a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the eighth en route to driving in a career-high seven runs.

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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.

Bryant's big fly more than enough for Arrieta

Bryant's big fly more than enough for Arrieta

SAN FRANCISCO -- Friday night's matchup of National League heavyweights became a tag-team affair dominated by the Chicago Cubs, as Jake Arrieta overpowered the San Francisco Giants and Kris Bryant delivered a telling uppercut.

The result was an 8-1 triumph for the Cubs, who halted the Giants' eight-game winning streak while improving their Major League-best record to 29-11. Chicago received a typical effort from Arrieta (8-0), who limited the Giants to one run and four hits in seven innings. A five-run, second-inning outburst, capped by Bryant's three-run homer, gave the right-hander ample support.

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Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Friday.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Arrieta's legendary run may be just the beginning

Maddon believes his ace can be even better

Arrieta's legendary run may be just the beginning

SAN FRANCISCO -- The great Jake Arrieta has now won his last 19 decisions and the Cubs have been victorious in his last 22 starts dating back to this past July 25. He has also pitched two no-hitters during that span.

He's 8-0 with a 1.29 ERA this season after Friday night's 8-1 drubbing of the Giants, and though Cubs manager Joe Maddon called his run of performances "legendary," he said the best for the masterful right-hander is still to come.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Heyward injured making spectacular catch

Heyward injured making spectacular catch

SAN FRANCISCO -- It only hurt when Dexter Fowler made him laugh. Wrapped with ice in elastic bandages, Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward talked about his catch, a diving catch that produced an out but cost him the rest of the game in Friday's 8-1 victory over the Giants.

Fowler, sitting in the next locker, was trying to humor him. Heyward had to turn away to keep from laughing.

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Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs stay upbeat despite dropping series

Maddon on losses to Crew: 'You're just not going to win them all'

Cubs stay upbeat despite dropping series

MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs aren't in panic mode Thursday after losing two of three to the Brewers, and five of their last eight games overall.

"We're not down, we're not up -- we're just going to go play tomorrow," Chicago's Anthony Rizzo said after a 5-3 loss to Milwaukee in which the offense stalled.

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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.