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NLCS: Maddon, Cubs make some changes for Game 3 lineup vs. Dodgers

NLCS: Maddon, Cubs make some changes for Game 3 lineup vs. Dodgers

LOS ANGELES - Joe Maddon hinted at lineup changes ahead of Game 3 of the National League Championship Series and delivered.

The Cubs offense that was third in the big leagues in runs scored during the regular season has hit just .193 in six postseason games with a .251 on-base percentage.

As such, Maddon bumped Ben Zobrist up to third in the order, with the struggling Anthony Rizzo fourth.

[RELATED - How Cubs can jumpstart slumping offense at Dodger Stadium]

Javy Baez has enjoyed a breakout postseason (hitting .391 with a 1.025 OPS) and was bumped up to fifth, moving Addison Russell down to seventh.

Rizzo and Russell are a combined 2-for-45 this postseason.

Jorge Soler is in the lineup for Game 3 over Jason Heyward with Dodgers southpaw Rich Hill on the mound. 

Here is the complete Cubs lineup:

1. Dexter Fowler - CF
2. Kris Bryant - 3B
3. Ben Zobrist - LF
4. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
5. Javy Baez - 2B
6. Jorge Soler - RF
7. Addison Russell - SS
8. Miguel Montero - C
9. Jake Arrieta - P

Montero has formed a nice battery with Arrieta over the last couple seasons and the Cubs trust the veteran calling the game behind the plate, hence why he's in against a lefty with Willson Contreras on the bench.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

The Dodgers have duplicated their Game 2 lineup against Arrieta:

1. Chase Utley - 2B
2. Corey Seager - SS
3. Justin Turner - 3B
4. Adrian Gonzalez - 1B
5. Josh Reddick - RF
6. Joc Pederson - CF
7. Yasmani Grandal - C
8. Andrew Toles - LF
9. Rich Hill - P

Hill is the former Cubs prospect who threw 337.2 innings with the franchise that drafted him (fourth round in 2002) from 2005-08.

Seager hit .308 with an .877 OPS in the regular season but is just 4-for-30 in the postseason and all four of his hits have come in the first inning.

Willson Contreras, Jon Lester carry Cubs to eventful win in the first game of the series with Atlanta

Willson Contreras, Jon Lester carry Cubs to eventful win in the first game of the series with Atlanta

The Cubs and Braves got through roughly one inning of Stranger Things Night at Wrigley Field before Willson Contreras made the evening his own. 

The catcher went 2-4 with three RBI, and provided the most notable moment from the game: a 2nd inning solo homer that caused both benches to clear. Contreras had taken issue with a few of the called strikes earlier in the at-bat, and said something to home plate umpire John Tumpane about it. Contreras continued to make his feelings known as he left the box, drawing the ire of Braves catcher Tyler Flowers.

“To be honest, those pitches weren’t even close to the strike zone,” he said. “[Flowers] got mad because I was talking to the umpire about that, and he jumped into the conversation. 

Contreras then proceeded to shout in the direction of Atlanta’s dugout while rounding first base, and the two catchers exchanged more words as he crossed home plate. The benches quickly emptied, and after a few moments of posturing, returned to their dugouts. 

“It was a lot of emotions together,” he said after the game. “I was having a conversation with the umpire, and it ended up with [Flowers], so that’s all I can say. I just basically told him to do his job and I’ll do mine. I don’t know why he got pissed off because that’s all I said - you do your job and i’ll do mine.”

“I was kind of amused by the whole thing,” Joe Maddon added. “I don’t really know Mr. Flowers - we had a nice conversation, walked away, and it was over. It really wasn’t worth more than what happened.

The confrontation was just one of a few testy moments between these two teams. In the top of the 2nd inning, Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson was caught on cameras shushing the Cubs dugout: 

Two innings later, it was Javy Baez who returned serve by blowing the Braves a kiss after stealing second on Flowers: 

“It’s fun because they’re good,” Maddon said. “And we’re good - that’s the fun part. Monday night, at 7:05, to have that kind of attitude and atmosphere is outstanding. That’s what baseball needs.” 

On the mound, Jon Lester bounced back from a run of three straight underwhelming performances. June hasn’t been kind to Lester, as the lefty had allowed 14 runs over the last 23 IPs prior to Monday’s start, good for a 5.93 FIP. He threw 94 pitches against the Braves, lasting six innings while allowing two runs -- both unearned, though -- and striking out seven. He only threw 94 pitches, but his control (0 BB) was excellent. Lester spotted his strikeout pitch well all night, getting four of his six right-handed K’s on the low outside corner:

“I just tried to stay down there, and had the backdoor cutter to those guys,” Lester said. “We were able to kind of exploit that, and then when we felt that guys were reaching out there a little bit, I ran the cutter in on some guys too. I was just able to command both sides of the plate tonight, which is huge against an offense like that.” 

“Great job by Jon,” Maddon added, “Jon had great stuff. Coming off of [throwing 114 pitches], he’s been throwing a lot of pitches on regular rest, so I wanted to limit that tonight. He was lobbying to go back out, but I didn’t feel good about it based on the longevity of the season and we had a rested Kintzler.

“But Jon was really good, and really good against a tough lineup.”

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Live from Wrigley it's Cubs Authentic Fan Night

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USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Live from Wrigley it's Cubs Authentic Fan Night

Ozzie Guillen and Doug Glanville join Leila Rahimi to talk all things Chicago baseball as the Cubs take on the Braves and the White Sox look to get a win in Boston.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: