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'Donnie Baseball' delivers again

8/22/2013

CHICAGO -- There might only be one real "Donnie Baseball," and he's managing the Los Angeles Dodgers right now, but that doesn't mean the Chicago Cubs can't have a version of their own. After all, Donnie Murphy is hitting a lot like Don Mattingly used to.

Murphy hit a two-out, two-run home run off Nationals star Stephen Strasburg in the ninth inning Thursday to tie the score 4-4. The Cubs eventually lost, 5-4 in 13 innings, but it doesn't take away from Murphy's heroics.

"I've never been on a run like this in the big leagues so I'm having fun with it," Murphy said after hitting his eighth home run in 16 games. "At the same time, I wish we were winning some more ballgames."

Murphy was called up from Triple-A Iowa a couple of weeks ago when Luis Valbuena went down with an injury. He hasn't stopped hitting since he got here, and according to Stats Inc., he became the first Cub since at least 1921 to hit eight home runs in his first 16 games.

"It's awesome," teammate Anthony Rizzo said. "It really is. It's special to see. He got off to a great start and he's running with it. This game is all confidence."

Murphy obviously didn't lose much confidence after striking out in his first three at-bats against Strasburg before the ninth inning.

"I can't get any worse than three K's," he said.

A fourth would have been worse -- but instead he tied the score.

"That was the only pitch he hung me today and I hit it pretty good," Murphy said. "Getting the last say was pretty cool."

The Cubs are in tryout mode, and though prospects are coming soon enough, there is no guarantee that they'll pan out and certainly no guarantee that they'll be here next season. The Cubs need some bodies, and Murphy, along with outfielder Brian Bogusevic, are making the most of their opportunities. Bogusevic homered off of Strasburg in the eighth before Murphy did it in the ninth.

"Strasburg was still in the game and we said, 'Let's break his heart,' " Rizzo said.

Mission accomplished, though the Nationals still won the game. Meanwhile, Murphy keeps plugging along, setting a career high in home runs with each one he hits. His previous high (six) was accomplished in 132 plate appearances for Oakland in 2007. He has eight this year in 63. He's also hitting .328 with 15 RBIs. No wonder Rizzo & Co. are calling him by his new nickname.

"Donnie Baseball" is making some noise.