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Cubs fall, Rizzo stays hot

3/22/2014

MESA, Ariz. – The Chicago Cubs fell to the Cincinnati Reds 8-3 in front of 15,241 fans on Saturday. That’s two people shy of a Cactus League attendance record set earlier this week at Cubs Park.

The Good: Anthony Rizzo raised his batting average to .368 with three hits, all against lefty Tony Cingrani -- he’s 5-for-11 against southpaws this spring. He drove in runs on two of the hits, an area where he struggled last season, when he batted just .191 with men in scoring position. Darwin Barney walked twice in the leadoff role while Jose Veras got out of a jam with two on and none out in the sixth inning.

The Bad: Outfielder Ryan Sweeney went 0-for-4, lowering his spring average to .083; shortstop Donnie Murphy saw his fall to .189 after an 0-for-3 outing. Cubs pitchers gave up 17 hits.

The OK: As is a pattern with him, starter Edwin Jackson had one bad inning -- the first -- en route to a four-run, eight-hit performance over five innings pitched. He gave up a hit and a walk before Roger Bernadina homered. Jackson walked one and struck out seven.

“It’s a matter of location,” Jackson said afterward. “They definitely made me work, which was good. I needed to get that work in. If you’re going to have a shaky start you would rather have it in spring, but I was still able to come back and keep the team in the game. Just have to locate better early.”

Relievers Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm each worked an inning, Strop giving up two earned runs and Grimm one.

Arrieta still on pace: Starter Jake Arrieta had no ill effects from a two-inning simulated game Friday and is set to pitch a normal bullpen session Sunday. It’s still not clear if he can get into a Cactus League game before the end of next week. Either way he’ll start the regular season on the disabled list after suffering a “stiff shoulder” over the winter.

Olt back-to-back: Infielder Mike Olt played third base Saturday and is scheduled to do so again Sunday, which would be the first time he's played there on back-to-back days this spring. In two Cactus League games so far at the hot corner he hasn’t had to make a throw. He had a sore shoulder throughout most of the spring, but is well enough to play third now.

What’s Next: Jason Hammel is scheduled to take the mound against the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon.