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#Cubs LHP Richard faces Brewers in finale

Clayton Richard gets the start Sunday in the Cubs’ series finale against the Brewers at Miller Park. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Schwarber C

Coghlan LF

Rizzo 1B

Bryant 3B

Soler RF

Castro SS

Richard P

Russell 2B

* With a win Sunday, the Cubs would post their first four-game series win over the Brewers since July 28-31, 2008.

* Anthony Rizzo hit his 20th homer on Saturday. It’s the third straight season he’s reached 20, and he’s the first Cubs left-handed hitter to do so since Leon Durham’s four-year run, 1984-87.

* Rizzo has been hit by a pitch 21 times, and he’s the first 20-20 player in Cubs history.

* Looking ahead to the Cubs series against the Pirates:

Monday: LHP Jon Lester (6-8, 3.26) vs. LHP Francisco Liriano (7-6, 2.92)
Tuesday: RHP Jake Arrieta (11-6, 2.62) vs. LHP J.A. Happ (0-0, 0.00)
Wednesday: RHP Dan Haren (7-7, 3.42) vs. LHP Jeff Locke (6-6, 4.21)

#Cubs Minor League report: Baez 5 RBIs

Saturday’s games

Javier Baez drove in five runs in Iowa’s 13-8 victory over Colorado Springs. Baez went 3-for-6 with a double. He’s now batting .313. Tsuyoshi Wada picked upt he win, giving up five runs over six innings. John Andreoli had three hits, including his third home run. Mike Olt had two hits and Christian Villanueva added three.

Jeffry Antigua gae up four runs over six innings and got the win in Tennessee’s 5-4 victory over Montgomery. Jeimer Candelario and Bijan Rademacher each homered. Candelario finished with three hits.

Mark Zagunis hit a three-run homer but it wasn’t enough as Myrtle Beach lost, 4-3, to Frederick. Brad Markey posted a quality start, giving up one run over six innings, but did not get a decision.

Jeffry Baez — no relation to Javy — had four hits in South Bend’s 5-4 win over Dayton. Jake Stinnett gave up two runs over six innings and struck out five.

Eugene lost, 4-0, to Spokane. Kyle Miller took the loss, giving up two runs over two innings.

Mesa returns to action Sunday against the Giants.

#Cubs notes: Rondon, Richard & roster moves

* Hector Rondon has picked up saves in his last three outings but he’s not the Cubs closer, even though that was his job at the beginning of the season. Manager Joe Maddon moved Rondon out of that role and decided to go with matchups rather than one pitcher. It’s worked so far, plus helped ease Rondon back into late inning situations.

“Any situation they want to put me in, I’m available,” Rondon said. “Right now, I throw most of the time seventh, eighth, ninth innings. I’ll always be ready.”

Rondon said he benefited from the brief break in May and June when he wasn’t used in save situations as much. Does he need to know his role?

“For me, I don’t care if he tells me or tells other guys who’s the closer,” Rondon said. “What’s most important for us is to win games.”

* Catcher Miguel Montero (thumb) will begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Sunday with Double-A Tennessee. Meanwhile, infielder Tommy La Stella, who started his rehab assignment at Tennessee last Wednesday, was expected to return to action on Sunday. La Stella, out since early April with an oblique strain, had some soreness in the same area after playing in one game.

* The Cubs added pitchers Haren and Tommy Hunter on Saturday, and optioned right-handed reliever Yoervis Medina to Triple-A Iowa to make room on the roster. Reliever Ben Rowen had been designated for assignment on Friday.

The Cubs also announced first baseman Mike Baxter, who was designated for assignment, had cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Iowa.

Did Maddon expect the Cubs to make any more trades in August?

“Of course [we can], but I don’t expect anything to happen,” he said. “There’s nothing really prominent conversation between me and the guys.”

* When Montero does return, expect rookie catcher Kyle Schwarber to stay.

“This guy, hitting him second, you want his bat in the lineup,” Maddon said of Schwarber. “He’s done a nice job behind the plate. I’d like to believe he’s here for awhile.”

* Left-hander Clayton Richard will start Sunday in the series finale against the Brewers. It’ll be his fourth start with the Cubs. In his last start at Triple-A Iowa, Richard gave up three hits over seven scoreless innings.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs prep for tough month

New Cubs pitcher Dan Haren posted on Twitter that he had landed in Milwaukee, and the right-hander will make his first start on Wednesday in the series finale against the Pirates.

This is a key month for the Cubs, who are trying to secure a playoff spot. They’ll face the two teams ahead of them in the Wild Card race, the Pirates and Giants, starting Monday.

“This is the tough month to get through, August,” manager Joe Maddon said. “You’ve got to show up every day and play. Everybody gets a little bit fatigued, mentally and physically. I’ve explained to the guys, once you get to September, if you’re in that hunt, you find the energy every day. The weather starts to break and it gets cooler. Plus, you show up and you’re right there and have this opportunity. [August] is the month you have to manufacture it a little bit.”

Maddon will try to keep things loose. He’s got something planned for the middle of the month, but wouldn’t offer any hints. The Cubs will be encouraged to wear onesies on the flight home from Los Angeles Aug. 30.

“It is fun and games, it’s not life and death,” Maddon said. “You’ve wanted to do this since you’re six or five or four [years old]. You wanted this opportunity to be a Major League player, you might as well enjoy it.”

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Hendricks starts vs Brewers

Kyle Hendricks gets the start Saturday night at Miller Park as the Cubs try for their third straight win over the Brewers. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Schwarber C

Coghlan LF

Rizzo 1B

Bryant 3B

Soler RF

Castro SS

Hendricks P

Russell 2B

* Hendricks went five innings on Monday, giving up four earned runs for a no-decision in an eventual Cubs’ 9-8 win vs. the Rockies. Hendricks is 0-1 with 5.40 ERA over last three starts. He’s 2-0 with a 0.98 ERA in three career starts the Brewers.

#Cubs highs/lows for July

The Cubs are 55-47 on Aug. 1, the fifth-best record in the National League. One year ago, they were 45-62 entering play on Aug. 1, which was the second-worst record in the NL and fourth worst in MLB.

The Cubs went 15-12 in July, and now have played .500 or better ball in every calendar month this season. They’ve posted back to back winning months for the first time since 2008.

Highs and lows for the Cubs in July:

Batting average
High: Kyle Schwarber .302
Low: Kris Bryant .168

On-base percentage
High: Schwarber .412, Dexter Fowler .411
Low: Starlin Castro .194

Slugging percentage
High: Schwarber .488, Rizzo .413
Low: Castro .202

Strikeouts
High: Bryant 37

Home runs
Bryant and Rizzo 4 each

RBI
Bryant 17, Rizzo 13

***
Pitchers ERA
Jon Lester 1.66 (6 games, 43 1/3 innings)
Jake Arrieta 1.90 (6 games, 42 2/3 innings)
Kyle Hendricks 2.90 (5 games, 31 innings)

Most strikeouts
Lester 50
Arrieta 44
Hendricks 28
Travis Wood 21

Team batting average in July: .222 (14th in National League)

Team ERA in July: 3.39 (9th in NL)

#Cubs Minor League report

Friday’s games

Drake Britton gave up two runs over 5 2/3 innings in Iowa’s 5-2 win over Nashville. Britton gave up two hits but walked seven. Javier Baez was 1-for-3 with one RBI and now has scored seven runs in the last four games. John Andreoli had two hits and one RBI.

Tennessee lost, 7-4, to Montgomery. Ryan Williams gave up five runs over five inning.

Paul Blackburn scattered seven hits over seven innings in Myrtle Beach’s 2-1 win over Frederick. Blackburn now has given up one earned run over 20 innings in his last four starts.

Jeffrey Baez hit his seventh home run in South Bend’s 6-1 loss to Dayton. James Norwood took the loss, giving up five earned runs over 3 1/3 innings. Ian Happ had two hits, including a double.

Carson Sands threw five shutout innings in Eugene’s 7-0 win over Spokane. Sands struck out four. Donnie Dewees had three hits and one RBI. Ricardo Marcano had two RBI.

Mesa’s game was postponed because of rain.

Castro happy to stay with #Cubs; collects 2 RBI

As much as Starlin Castro tried to tune out all the rumors leading up to the Trade Deadline, it wasn’t easy. He got frustrated and had to reprimand some family members who called to ask about the gossip.

“I didn’t really watch TV or watch rumors,” Castro said after driving in two runs in the Cubs’ 4-1 victory Friday night over the Brewers. “Sometimes people, even family, would call me and tell me, ‘We see you in the news,’ and I say, ‘Don’t call me for that.’

“I don’t even use my Instagram any more,” Castro said. “[If I did], maybe the fans would text me or something, ‘Hey, you might be traded.’ I don’t want to see this. It’s over now. I just have to keep fighting in there and try to finish strong.”

Manager Joe Maddon had tried to get the shortstop to relax earlier this week, telling him that he wasn’t sitting on Wednesday because of a potential deal. Now that the deadline has passed, Maddon noticed a difference.

“More than anything, I thought Starlin was more relaxed,” Maddon said. “I noticed that pre-game.”

Castro delivered a game-tying RBI single in the second. In the fourth, Anthony Rizzo scored from third when Castro hit into a fielder’s choice. It was his 11th multi-RBI game of the season.

All he needs to do now is take a deep breath.

“That’s the kind of thing that kills me — I go too fast,” Castro said of his at-bats. “I can’t even breathe. That’s what I try to do now is go in there, pitch by pitch. Don’t try to do too much with one pitch. They have to throw me one pitch to hit. I just go in there to hit and try to put the ball in play.”

Last season, Castro batted .378 in August. Maddon would love to see that again this year.

“Things can change in one month,” Castro said. “In one month, the season can be great. I have to keep positive, keep fighting.”

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs lineup vs Brewers: Hammel to start

Jason Hammel starts Friday for the Cubs in Game 2 of their four-game series against the Brewers at Miller Park. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Schwarber C

Coghlan LF

Rizzo 1B

Bryant 3B

Soler RF

Castro SS

Hammel P

Russell 2B

* Kris Bryant is batting fifth for the second time this season. He’s batting .174 this month.

#Cubs get Tommy Hunter

The Cubs added another arm to their bullpen with the acquisition of Orioles right-hander Tommy Hunter for outfielder Junior Lake.

Hunter, 29, had a 3.63 ERA in 39 games this season with the Orioles, striking out 32 and walking 11 over 44 2/3 innings.
He was the Rangers’ first round pick in 2007, and then dealt to the Orioles in July 2011 along with Chili Davis for Koji Uehara.
He also can help the Cubs next year as Hunter will be a free agent after the 2016 season.

Lake, 25, was batting .315 at Triple-A Iowa with seven home runs, 10 doubles and 31 RBIs. Lake was called up to the big leagues for 21 games, and batting .224 with one homer.

— Carrie Muskat

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