Zobrist hits the power switch to spark offense

Two-run homer cements series-opening win against Nationals

Zobrist hits the power switch to spark offense

CHICAGO -- On Wednesday, Ben Zobrist hit a three-run homer while batting left-handed. On Thursday night, he belted a two-run shot from the right side.

"It's a good sign for me," said Zobrist, who drove in four runs in the Cubs' 5-2 win on Thursday over the Nationals. "It takes me a while, being a switch-hitter, to get the feel. It's definitely felt better the last couple days, driving balls. Sometimes driving it takes a while to find that stroke."

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for Zobrist and other #ASGWorthy players

Zobrist got the Cubs' offense started with a two-run single in the fourth against Joe Ross, and connected on his third home run of the season with two out in the eighth.

"Offensively, it was Zo's night," manager Joe Maddon said.

The home run was Zobrist's first at Wrigley Field, and the first time he's done so in back-to-back games since Aug. 1-2 of last year while with the Royals. He now has seven RBIs in his last two games.

"I feel pretty good," said Zobrist, who ranks second on the Cubs with 20 RBIs. "I think the reason I've had so many RBIs is I'm finally starting to get some hits behind [Anthony Rizzo]. Riz is getting on base, and they're pitching around him to get to me. If I can get some more hits, he'll get better pitches to hit. He's such a great hitter -- I'm trying to do the best I can to protect him."

Maddon's plan this season has been to flip flop Zobrist and Kris Bryant in the three- and five-holes around Rizzo, creating what Maddon likes to call a "Rizzo sandwich." Zobrist expected to be batting high in the Cubs' order, but not in the heart of it.

"I've been at the top, but I've also been in the middle of the lineup," he said. "I think the way it's worked out at this point, flipping [Bryant] and myself in the three- and five-hole, we've been playing well so that's probably why [Maddon] has kept it there. That doesn't mean he won't change it tomorrow.

"I know Joe, and he likes to keep it fresh and keep us on our toes," Zobrist said. "If he has a feeling and he might change it, we'll find out when the lineup goes up. He definitely has his reasons for why he does it. I'm not privy to it. I just show up and bat where I am in the lineup."

Zobrist has done just fine so far, and is enjoying the postgame celebrations that involve confetti, smoke and water flying everywhere.

"Fortunately, we've had a lot of those fun moments and we hope to have a lot more," Zobrist said.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.