Rizzo rated No. 1 first base prospect

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Rizzo rated No. 1 first base prospect

According to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, Anthony Rizzo is the best first base prospect in baseball. In Mayo's top 10 prospects list, Rizzo ranks No. 1, interestingly ahead of Yonder Alonso -- who made Rizzo expendable in San Diego after the Padres acquired him as part of the Mat Latos trade.

In five minor league seasons between the Red Sox and Padres systems, the 22-year-old Rizzo owns an .880 OPS with 64 home runs.

Cubs 2011 second-round pick Dan Vogelbach made the list at No. 10. The 18-year-old, 250-pound Vogelbach appeared in six games for the rookie-level AZL Cubs, collecting seven hits and two walks in 27 plate appearances with a home run.

Arrieta wins 16th straight decision as Cubs beat Brewers

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Arrieta wins 16th straight decision as Cubs beat Brewers

Jake Arrieta's bid for a second straight no-hitter was dashed on his fifth pitch. His Wrigley Field scoreless streak ended at 52 2/3 innings.

Oh, and he won his 16th consecutive decision, the longest streak in the major leagues in a decade.

"I was a little flat today," the NL Cy Young Award winner said Thursday after leading the Chicago Cubs over the Milwaukee Brewers 7-2.

Chicago improved to 16-5, its best 21-game start since opening 1907 at 17-4.

"Our most important ballgames are still ahead of us," Arrieta said. "We're still lined up pretty well."

Arrieta (5-0) gave up one run, three hits and four walks in five innings — the first run he allowed at home since July 25. Alex Presley's fifth-inning RBI double ended Arrieta's home scoreless streak at 52 2/3 innings, four outs shy of Ray Herbert's major league record set with the Chicago White Sox in 1962-63.

Arrieta's streak of consecutive winning decisions is the longest since Jose Contreras of the White Sox won 17 in a row from August 2005 to July 2006, according to STATS. Chicago has won in Arrieta's last 18 starts, a team record.

Cubs catcher David Ross believed some perspective was needed.

"For him to have an off night, and he gave up one (run)," Ross said.

Arrieta's streak of consecutive quality starts ended at 24, two shy of Bob Gibson's record from 1967-68.

"I saw 92 pitches. I saw the Cubs trying to win a World Series. I saw the next five years of his career," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "All that stuff mattered much more than breaking Gibson's record."

Cubs left fielder Kris Bryant left in the fifth after rolling his right ankle while running the bases two innings earlier. The team called it a "mild" sprain, but said Bryant was to undergo an MRI.

After throwing 119 pitches at Cincinnati on April 21 in his second no-hitter in a span of 11 regular-season starts, Arrieta had six days' rest. The Cubs were off Monday, and Wednesday's game was rained out.

Arrieta acknowledged he's "not accustomed" to the extra days off.

Wearing short sleeves on a 45-degree cloudy day with a 12 mph wind at his back, Arrieta had trouble locating his fastball.

He needed 31 pitches to get through the first inning, when Jonathan Villar led off with an opposite-field, broken-bat single over third base. A pair of one-out walks loaded the bases before Chris Carter and Kirk Nieuwenhuis struck out on elevated 94 mph fastballs.

Arrieta initially protested, then agreed with Maddon's call to lift him after five innings.

"The extra off days, the rainout last night, cold weather, extended pitch counts, long first inning, it is the right way to go," Arrieta said.

Ben Zobrist hit a two-run single in the first off Taylor Jungmann (0-4), who gave up five runs, six hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings as his ERA rose to 9.15. He also hit Bryant with two pitches.

"I think right now I'm a little timid," Jungmann said. "That's never been me, but it's obvious when you watch the game. Too much going on in my head and not competing."

Ross hit solo home run onto Waveland Avenue in the second, and Anthony Rizzo and Tommy La Stella added RBI doubles in the third for a 5-0 lead.

Villar had three hits and stole three bases as the Brewers lost to the Cubs for the 14th time in 15 games thanks to suspect pitching.

"There's no success in 11 walks, that's for sure," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We were fortunate to only give up seven runs."

Lester takes mound as Cubs face Braves today on CSN

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Lester takes mound as Cubs face Braves today on CSN

The Cubs take on the Atlanta Braves on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester vs. Aaron Blair

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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Cubs getting precautionary MRI on Kris Bryant's ankle

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Cubs getting precautionary MRI on Kris Bryant's ankle

While the big-picture injury concerns revolved around the pitching staff heading into this World Series-or-bust season, the Cubs have already lost one of their best hitters for the year (Kyle Schwarber) and just placed a two-time All-Star catcher on the disabled list (Miguel Montero). The 162-game schedule is a war of attrition. 

The Cubs framed the MRI on Kris Bryant’s right ankle as a precautionary move after pulling the National League’s reigning Rookie of the Year from Thursday’s 7-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field.

Manager Joe Maddon said “I honestly don’t know” if Bryant will miss more time with what the Cubs initially described as a mild sprain. “I don’t even want to create conjecture. Let’s just see what happens. Let’s look at the test.” 

Brewers starter Taylor Jungmann (0-4, 9.15 ERA) drilled Bryant with two pitches that didn't appear to bother him that much. Bryant rolled his ankle while running the bases after a third-inning single and got replaced by Javier Baez in the fifth.

Bryant is hitting .289 and is second on the team in homers (four) and runs scored (17) and tied for second in RBI (15). He played in 151 out of 154 possible games after his Triple-A Iowa service-time detour to begin last season, delaying his free agency by a year. 

Beyond the power, Maddon views Bryant as one of the game’s best baserunners and a versatile defender who can move from third base to anywhere in the outfield.