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Coghlan chipping in with key hits off bench

Coghlan chipping in with key hits off bench

ATLANTA -- Down a run and needing a rally against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, the Cubs turned to Chris Coghlan in the top of the ninth inning Friday night. Coghlan delivered, notching a leadoff single and eventually scoring the game's tying run.

"Any time you can come off the bench and get a hit, it's huge," Coghlan said. "It's not easy to do, especially when you're facing one of the best closers in the game."

The Cubs signed Coghlan to a Minor League deal in January after the Marlins non-tendered the outfielder in December. Manager Rick Renteria said situations like Friday's are what Chicago envisioned when it signed Coghlan.

Following Friday night's hit, Coghlan is batting .282 (11-for-39) as a pinch-hitter during his career.

"We were hoping he'd be able to come off the bench and give us some good at-bats, and he has, actually," Renteria said. "We've pinch-hit him three times prior to using him [Friday] night, and he squared up the ball well all three."

Coghlan is 3-for-12 since Chicago selected his contract from Triple-A Iowa after Ryan Sweeney went on the 15-day disabled list with a moderate right hamstring strain suffered May 3. Renteria has enjoyed Coghlan's veteran approach this week.

"He stands in there, he's got a good feel," Renteria said. "He has a good idea of what he's doing, so it's been nice to have him here."

Coghlan broke into the big leagues with the Marlins and was named the National League Rookie of the Year after batting .321 with a .390 on-base percentage in 2009. However, injuries have hampered Coghlan since.

He played only 70 games last season while battling issues with his back and right calf, and described his assignment to Iowa out of Spring Training as "humbling." Now healthy, he hopes to become a reliable bench option and remain in the Majors.

"Anytime you're healthy, it's always fun because you can just go compete off your skill set," Coghlan said. "I feel grateful to be here. I'm just grateful for an opportunity."

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

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