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Rizzo shows dramatic improvement vs. lefties

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SAN DIEGO -- Anthony Rizzo's struggles against left-handed pitchers have been well documented.

Coming into this season, Rizzo had a career batting average of .194 against left-handed pitchers with 12 homers and 43 RBIs in 320 at-bats. Last season, Rizzo hit .189 against left-handers with seven homers and 23 RBIs in 190 at-bats.

But the first baseman's two-run, go-ahead home run off Padres left-handed starter Eric Stults Thursday night was his fourth of the season in just 50 at-bats. Rizzo is hitting .300 against left-handed pitchers this season with 10 walks for a .419 on-base percentage. His .560 slugging percentage against left-handers this season gives him an OPS of .979 -- more than 300 points high than his career OPS of .668 against left-handers. His career on-base percentage against left-handed pitchers coming into the season was .272.

"It's a constant battle," Rizzo said Thursday night of his gains against left-handed pitchers. On another front, Rizzo has 21 walks and only 14 strikeouts and a .446 on-base percentage and a .967 OPS in his last 20 games dating back to April 30.

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

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