Cubs defend Rizzo’s dangerous slide


Associated Press

PITTSBURGH

Anthony Rizzo’s seventh home run of the season gave the sleep-deprived Chicago Cubs an early lead on Monday afternoon. His two-run single in the ninth put the finishing touches on a 7-0 romp over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It’s what happened in between that could have a carry-over effect for the NL Central rivals.

Rizzo slid hard into Pittsburgh catcher Elias Diaz while being forced out at home in the eighth inning, taking out Diaz’s legs, forcing a wild throw into right field. That allowed two runs to score and left both sides wondering what does — and doesn’t — constitute a legal slide in modern-day Major League Baseball.

Rizzo claimed he “wasn’t trying to hurt anyone” when he went leg-first into Diaz, who had already touched home plate for the force out and was a full step in front of the base when the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Rizzo undercut him.

“Plays like that are scary, but at the same time, you have to play hard,” Rizzo said. “It’s 100 percent in the rules.”

The Pirates challenged the call, but it stood on review, a sequence that ended with Pirates manager Clint Hurdle getting ejected.

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