Stewart's reliability at third a boon for Cubs

Stewart's reliability at third a boon for Cubs

Stewart's reliability at third a boon for Cubs
PHILADELPHIA -- While it's true that third baseman Ian Stewart entered Friday night's game at Philadelphia mired in an offensive slump, Cubs manager Dale Sveum has no intention of removing him from the lineup. Not when he's invaluable at third base defensively, and that was evident in a 5-1 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

"Nobody else is playing [third]," said Sveum, who will go with Stewart's defense no matter what happens offensively.

For Stewart, the game is about both offense and defense, and right now, he's a stabilizing force defensively on the left side of the Cubs' infield. On Friday, Stewart had five assists -- the Cubs recorded 16 assists in all as starter Paul Maholm, along with relievers James Russell and Rafael Dolis, had Phillies hitters pounding out ground ball after ground ball -- and his career .959 fielding percentage at third base eclipses the fact that his career batting average is below .250.

"I think he had it going on," Sveum said. "The last few games haven't been where he wants to be, or [where] we want him to be. I think he's one of those guys that's streaky and always has been one of those guys. Like I say about the media guide, even the years he was really good, he'd have big-time streaks with home runs here and there, then a two-week period with a cooling-off period. Yeah, we need him to be more consistent with a home run here and there."

Stewart, who did hit 25 home runs for Colorado in 2009, also contributed at the plate on a night both offenses struggled to get into rhythm. With the Cubs holding a 2-1 lead in the sixth, Stewart's RBI double into the right-field corner provided some much-needed breathing room.

"When he's hot, he's a two-way player," Sveum said. "When he's cold, he's at least a one-way player. There aren't many third basemen that play third base the way he does."