ST. LOUIS -- The Cubs' Javier Baez did not start in Tuesday's 8-7 loss to the Cardinals because of soreness in his right knee sustained when he fouled a pitch off his leg in the eighth inning of Monday night's 10-2 win over the Cards.
But Baez entered as a pinch-hitter with the Cubs facing a one-run deficit with two outs in the ninth inning and runners on first and second, and he struck out swinging to end the game.
On Monday, Baez fouled the pitch off his knee and crumpled to the ground in the eighth, and after he was checked by manager Joe Maddon and an athletic trainer, he stayed in the game. Baez then hit a single but was lifted for a pinch-runner.
"I thought it was really bad," Baez said after Monday's game. "After, it was just a big bruise and sore. It was like jumping into a cold tub, and my whole leg was freezing."
The Cubs, who were one win away from clinching the National League Central for the second straight year, also were initially without Addison Russell, who was not in the lineup as part of a scheduled off-day. But he also struck out in a pinch-hit appearance in the ninth Tuesday, a day after diving into the stands and knocking a fan's nachos onto the field. Russell is coming back from a strained right foot injury that sidelined him more than one month.
Ben Zobrist started at second base and brought the Cubs within one run with a solo home run in the eighth after Jason Heyward clubbed a three-run shot.
Mike Freeman started at shortstop and had an eventful game, first committing an error that led to a run in a three-run first before making up for it with a nice defensive play an inning later. He also went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored, and was involved in a pair of replay reviews.
"I'm good with 'Free' going out there," Maddon said. "He's definitely involved and understands what's going on."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.