Rizzo uses Szczur's bat, sparks Maddon's memory

Rizzo uses Szczur's bat, sparks Maddon's memory

LOS ANGELES -- Matt Szczur may run out of bats, and he's not even on the Cubs' postseason roster. Anthony Rizzo borrowed one of Szczur's bats on Wednesday after striking out in his first two at-bats, and then hit a home run in the Cubs' 10-2 romp over the Dodgers in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.

Rizzo used Szczur's bat again in the first inning of Game 5 as well, and he promptly opened the scoring with an RBI double as the Cubs went on to an 8-4 win to take a 3-2 lead in the series.

NLCS Game 6: Saturday at 8 p.m. ET/7 CT on FS1

On Thursday, Szczur took batting practice, so he had at least one bat remaining. Manager Joe Maddon recalled a game when all the players on the team decided to share.

"The one time with the Angels we were going badly, and the guys decided to use the same bat for the first time through the batting order," Maddon said. "Orlando Palmeiro was the first hitter, and he gets called out on strikes and drops the bat on home plate. And the home-plate umpire threw him out of the game, thinking he was trying to show him up.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 15 CHC 8, LAD 4 video
Gm 2 Oct. 16 LAD 1, CHC 0 video
Gm 3 Oct. 18 LAD 6, CHC 0 video
Gm 4 Oct. 19 CHC 10, LAD 2 video
Gm 5 Oct. 20 CHC 8, LAD 4 video
Gm 6 Oct. 22 CHC 5, LAD 0 video

"We're [saying] 'No, no, no,' and we had to explain he was leaving it for the next guy," Maddon said. "I think it was Tim Tschida, he might have been the umpire, and he reinstated [Palmeiro]. That might have been the craziest."

Maddon pointed out that players change their bats all the time, switching from light colored bats to dark colored ones. Usually the size stays the same, but they might want a different look.

"That's just how hitters are," Maddon said.

He did recall someone telling him a story about Stan Musial and how he used one bat and never broke any.

"That's the anomaly guy," Maddon said. "That's just part of the tradition of baseball. Guys are normally very superstitious, and if it takes another bat to get you moving in the right direction, you're going to do that."

Carl Edwards Jr., who had to leave Wednesday's game after facing three batters because of tightness in his left hamstring, was fine on Thursday. Cubs athletic trainer PJ Mainville told Maddon that Edwards had a cramp, and it was nothing serious. The Cubs most likely will not use the right-hander on Thursday.

• Maddon knew John Lackey was not happy when he went to pull him after the right-hander had walked the Dodgers' Nos. 8 and 9 hitters to open the fifth inning on Wednesday.

"When he walks two guys like that at the bottom of the batting order, that set off the alarm for me," Maddon said. "The stuff was good, but it's abnormal to see him walk people."

Maddon admitted he took a deep breath before heading out to the mound and took his time, walking slowly around the "NLCS" logo painted on the field near the visitors' dugout.

"[Lackey] was dropping that line, 'You've got to be kidding me,' and I've seen him do that to other managers before," Maddon said.

The Cubs signed Lackey because they liked the edge he brings.

"You have to understand, you're dealing with some highly charged personalities," Maddon said. "At the end of the day, it's about more than one person. You have to make some tough decisions without everyone liking them. At the moment, I thought it was the right thing to do.

"John gets angry," Maddon said. "It shouldn't surprise anybody. [Home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez] was feeling the wrath also. [Lackey] vibrates at that frequency, he's an edgy ballplayer. Johnny's always been that guy."

• The Cubs' Mike Montgomery hit a single and earned the win, and he became the third relief pitcher in LCS history to earn the win and have a hit. The others include Nolan Ryan (two hits) for the Mets in Game 3 of the 1969 NLCS against the Braves, and Dick Hall (one hit) for the Orioles in Game 1 of the '70 American League Championship Series at Minnesota.

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.