SAN DIEGO (AP) — Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon recently likened Javier Baez to one of the Beatles because of the young second baseman’s growing star power.
Baez put on a performance fitting the comparison and his All-Star status, scoring the go-ahead run on a stolen base and consecutive errors in the 10th inning to help the Cubs beat the San Diego Padres 5-4.
“Javy did his Javy thing again. Pretty impressive,” Maddon said.
As for the Beatles comparison, “If he grew his hair, he’d look more like George, I think, or would it be Ringo?” the manager quipped.
“Listen, it’s a really good time for him as a young baseball player,” Maddon said. “It’s a good time for us. If you’re able to hear him in the dugout, the guy’s definitely alive and he’s definitely there for everybody else. It’s pretty cool to observe and listen to at the same time.
“I think he’s a very humble young man so I think this has a solid chance to continue and as he works even better at-bats, that’s really when you’re going to see how good he can be.”
Baez, voted the starter at second base for the NL, got his chance after Anthony Rizzo hit a tying double with two outs in the ninth inning against All-Star closer Brad Hand.
After Pedro Strop (4-1) struck out the side in the ninth, Baez reached on an infield single to third base with one out against Adam Cimber (3-5). Baez stole second, took third when catcher Austin Hedges’ throw sailed into center field and raced home when Manuel Margot bobbled the ball.
After Baez got on, Maddon knew he’d be doing something.
“And he’s welcome to. I just try to stay out of his way.”
Rizzo said the Cubs figured Baez would score once he got on.
“At this point it really is not even surprising to us. It’s crazy to say that but it’s fun,” Rizzo said. “His baseball instincts are taking over the whole game and people are noticing it more than ever. It’s fun because that’s who he is and he’ll continue to get better.”
As for Margot’s error that allowed Baez to score, “My guess is he’s looking up to see if he’s got a shot at Baez at third base instead of watching the ball all the way in the glove,” Padres manager Andy Green said.
Hand was one out away from his 25th save when Rizzo doubled into the gap in left-center to bring in pinch-runner Jason Heyward. Hand had retired Ben Zobrist and Ian Happ before hitting pinch-hitter Victor Caratini. Caratini was replaced by Heyward.
Rizzo said Hand “left a slider up just a tick.”
Said Green: “He just put it in the perfect spot, right in that gap there.”
Brandon Morrow pitched the 10th for his 21st save.
Hedges had given the Padres a 4-3 lead on a single with two outs in the eighth. It was his third single. With Manuel Margot aboard on a double, Hedges took Carl Edwards Jr. the opposite way for the go-ahead run, with his soft liner landing in front of right fielder Zobrist.
Kris Bryant, activated from the disabled list Wednesday, tied it at 3 with one out in the fifth when he smoked a grounder just inside first base that rolled into right field for an RBI double. It scored Albert Almora Jr., who reached on a fielder’s choice and was awarded second on shortstop Freddy Galvis’ errant throw.
Travis Jankowski had given the Padres a 3-2 lead with a two-run home run to right-center, his second, with two outs in the second off Tyler Chatwood. Padres starter Clayton Richard was aboard on a single to center.
San Diego took a 1-0 lead on Eric Hosmer’s RBI grounder in the first, and the Cubs jumped ahead on Happ’s two-run single after Richard struggled through the second. Baez hit a fly ball leading off the inning that appeared to clear the fence and bounce back onto the field. He pulled up at second and the umpires called for a review, ruling that a fan interfered with the ball and leaving Baez at second. Richard loaded the bases with one-out walks to Addison Russell and Zobrist. Happ then singled to center to bring in Baez and Russell.
Neither starter was sharp. Richard allowed three runs, two earned, on five hits in six innings while walking five and striking out four. Chatwood went five innings, allowing three runs and five hits, with three walks and two strikeouts.
“It’s a tough game,” Green said. “There isn’t another way to describe it.”
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (5-8, 3.93) is scheduled to start Saturday night. He’s coming off his best start of the season, when he allowed just an unearned run on five hits in in 8 1/3 innings. He didn’t factor into the decision as the Cubs lost 2-1 in 11 innings.
Padres: RHP Luis Perdomo (1-3, 7.09) is scheduled to make his third start since being recalled from Triple-A El Paso.
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