Rizzo returns, in lineup with Soler for first time

Slugger makes instant impact by belting walk-off homer to open ninth

Rizzo returns, in lineup with Soler for first time

CHICAGO -- Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, sidelined since Aug. 27 because of a lower back strain, returned to the lineup Monday, and he was slotted to hit ahead of rookie Jorge Soler.

Monday marked the first time the two will be in the same lineup in the big leagues.

"The lineup looks a little different today," manager Rick Renteria said.

Rizzo was the difference, too, as he hit a walk-off home run leading off the ninth to give the Cubs a 1-0 win over the Reds. It was his 31st home run; he hit No. 30 in his last game Aug. 26, also against the Reds.

Rizzo told Renteria he was ready to go Friday, and the two had a "heart to heart" talk, on Sunday, the manager said. The club wants to avoid any setbacks so Rizzo goes into the offseason healthy.

"It's reached a point where I'm as healthy as I'm going to be, especially at this point in the season," Rizzo said Monday. "Talking with Rick and the training staff, we knew there was no reason to rush back. I'm not chasing anything, I'm not going for 'x' amount of home runs or RBIs. It's really to get back and make sure I'm healthy -- which I am -- and finish up the season."

Rizzo hit his 30th home run on Aug. 26 against the Reds in a game interrupted by rain. The first baseman did not return after the delay because his back tightened up.

Soler, who is ranked the club's No. 4 prospect, belted a home run in his first Major League at-bat on Aug. 27 in Cincinnati, and he also returned to the lineup Monday after missing three games to be in Miami for the birth of his first child, son Jorley. The rookie outfielder is 16-for-45 (.356) with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 12 games, entering play Monday.

Rizzo said the Cubs' lineup isn't complete without Starlin Castro, who remained sidelined with a high left ankle sprain sustained on Sept. 2. Castro has been restricted with a walking boot, but on Monday, he was walking on the concourse at Wrigley Field without one as part of his rehab.

"We're missing our three-time All-Star shortstop," Rizzo said of Castro. "It'll all be together when we win the World Series. Right now, it's just a work in progress, in my opinion."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.