Bryant hurt, Schwarber redeems in Chicago Cubs victory

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant, top left, talks with manager David Ross, front right, and a team trainer during an at-bat during the second inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. Bryant left the game after grounding out.

    Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant, top left, talks with manager David Ross, front right, and a team trainer during an at-bat during the second inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. Bryant left the game after grounding out.

 
 
Updated 9/21/2020 10:35 PM

There was a trio of Cubs storylines during Monday night's 5-0 victory at Pittsburgh -- mostly good, but one bad.

The bad news was another injury for Kris Bryant. The third baseman has been struggling at the plate all season and needed time off last month with a wrist injury.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

During an at-bat in the second inning Monday, Bryant displayed some discomfort after a swing. He finished the at-bat and went back out in the field, but then left the game with right lower oblique tightness. It's the type of injury that's concerning this late in the season.

"I'm worried," manager David Ross said. "I don't know. I try to look at the positives in this seat. He did finish the at-bat, so that's a positive. It was nice of him to go back out and play D so we could give David (Bote) a chance to get heated up. David's been dealing with a little bit of stuff.

"It was kind of positive that he felt like he could still do a little bit. We'll see how it goes tomorrow, but I'm trying to hold out hope."

Ross also had a message for any critics who want to give Bryant a hard time for leaving the lineup again.

"If somebody wants to criticize Kris for getting injured, I don't know ... bad people do that," Ross said. "Good people don't do that."

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The second storyline was the Kyle Schwarber comeback. A day after being removed from the game in the second inning, Schwarber went 2-for-4 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI.

Ross never explained his reason for the removal, but it appeared to be because of a poor defensive play in left field.

"Obviously yesterday wasn't the most ideal day for me," Schwarber said. "Today was a new day. It is what it is. I spoke with Rossy and we turned the page. There's nothing personal, I didn't take anything personal. I talked to the guys, too, 'Hey, let's not make this a thing.' "

Schwarber led off the second inning Monday by hustling his way to a double, then scored on Javy Baez's two-out bunt single.

"I told him he stretched that first single into a double because he had fresh legs from yesterday that I gave him off," Ross said. "He thought that was funny."

Ross tinkered with the batting order again, going with Schwarber fourth, Bryant fifth, Jason Heyward sixth and Baez seventh.

Storyline No. 3 was the continued resurgence of starting pitcher Jon Lester, who threw 6 scoreless innings and allowed 4 hits. It was his third good start in a row after getting hit hard a couple of times. With a best-of-three first-round playoff series coming next week, it's easy to imagine Lester getting the call for Game 3, following Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Going into October, I want to be a reliable guy to where they don't have to have a guy on red alert down there (in the bullpen) just because of the way I've been throwing," Lester said. "So the last three have been better. Hopefully continue to build on that and ride into the postseason on a high note and go from there."

Victor Caratini drove in the Cubs' second run with a double in the fifth inning. The score stayed 2-0 until the eighth, when Schwarber added the 2-run double and Bote singled home pinch runner Billy Hamilton.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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