LOS ANGELES - In a moment straight out of "The Natural," Anthony Rizzo needed a bat and picked out a good one.

Matt Szczur played the role of bat boy in this story, but the ending was the same: a big-time home run.

Rizzo had been scuffling in a major way throughout the postseason, going just 2-for-26 in seven games leading up to Wednesday's Game 4 at Dodger Stadium.

One of those hits was a broken bat single in the ninth inning of Game 3 Tuesday night.

Rizzo used a new bat for his first two plate appearances in Game 4 and wound up striking out in both.

So he turned to Szczur's bat for some luck in the fifth inning.

"I knew he had it when he got in the box and I looked at Tommy La Stella and said, "Watch, he's gonna get a knock right now.' And then he hit the homer," Szczur said.

Szczur played in 107 games with the Cubs in the regular season, but didn't make the postseason roster for either the NLDS or NLCS. The Cubs have still had him travel to all the games and his impact showed up in a big way Wednesday night.

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Rizzo followed that homer with a pair of singles and suddenly bumped his postseason batting average up to .161 after that .077 start.

 

Rizzo has used Szczur's bat at various times throughout the season and that particular piece of lumber has been in game circulation for three years, something Szczur was hesitant to talk about and potentially jinx.

Rizzo - who beat cancer as a teenagerin the Boston Red Sox system - saw a feature Wednesday on Szczur donating bone marrow to a young girl in the Ukraine right after college.

"I've done it a few times, especially later on in the year," Rizzo said. "The first two at-bats weren't so hot. Szcz came out today with a nice feature on him about him giving his bone marrow, so all the things were just adding up. 

"I hit well with his bat, so he has hits in it. Same size, just different model and different name, and it worked."

The Cubs offense badly needed Rizzo to get hot in the middle of a lineup that set a new franchise record with 21 straight scoreless innings before the fourth inning Wednesday night.

Szczur is a good-natured guy who didn't seem to take the decision to leave him off the playoff roster personally. He's been at every workout, sim game and pregame batting practice with a smile on his face.

"He contributes way more [than a bat]," Kris Bryant said. "Anthony likes to use his bat here and there. I even used it at one point this year and I got a hit out of it. Any time you can take hits from other guys and they're gonna give 'em to you, you take 'em.

"Some guys that aren't on the roster, they're all here and supporting us and that's huge for us. They've been here all year."