CHICAGO (AP) — Dexter Fowler played his first game at Wrigley Field on Friday since he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals over the winter.
The Chicago Cubs welcomed him with open arms — and one shiny, gleaming present.
Fowler received his World Series ring from Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward during a pregame ceremony, drawing loud cheers on a picturesque day at the iconic neighborhood ballpark. Fowler then posed for a picture with his former teammates, manager Joe Maddon, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, and general manager Jed Hoyer.
The 31-year-old Fowler got another loud ovation when he stepped to the plate in the first inning, and he hit a drive to right for his 23rd career leadoff homer. He clapped his hands as he approached home, and a fan threw the ball back on the field.
"Those are memories. Those are memories that you'll never lose," Fowler said before the game, looking back on the run to last year's title. "Like I said, getting the ring is like closing a chapter on my life."
It was the second ring handed out by Rizzo in less than a day. The All-Star first baseman got engaged to his longtime girlfriend during a boat trip on Lake Michigan on Thursday, complete with fireworks.
"I texted Riz yesterday. I said good thing he's practicing," Fowler cracked.
A grinning Rizzo said Fowler also asked if the fireworks were in honor of his return to Chicago.
Fowler was acquired by the Cubs in January 2015 in a trade with Houston. He provided a steady presence on top of the lineup during two successful years with the team, culminating in the franchise's first championship since 1908. The center fielder hit .276 with 13 homers and a .393 on-base percentage in 125 games last season, making the All-Star team for the first time.
The switch-hitter signed an $82.5 million, five-year contract from the Cardinals during free agency.
"He goes about his business the same all the time," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "Loves life. Loves the game. Loves his teammates, his former teammates. But he wants to win. It will be a great honor for him to get that ring today and that's something he worked hard to achieve."
Jason Heyward hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, and the Chicago Cubs snapped a six-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday.
Heyward also had an RBI double in the sixth and Kris Bryant homered as the Cubs washed away some of the sting from a winless road trip against the Dodgers and Padres. Anthony Rizzo reached four times and scored two runs a day after he got engaged.
Rizzo led off the eighth with a double over the head of rookie left fielder Magneuris Sierra. He moved up on Ben Zobrist's grounder to third and scampered home when Heyward hit a fly ball to center against Trevor Rosenthal (1-2).
Pedro Strop (1-2) struck out Yadier Molina with the bases loaded for the final out of the Cardinals eighth, and Wade Davis finished for his 11th save.
The 31-year-old Fowler got another loud ovation when he stepped to the plate in the first inning, and he hit a drive to the bleachers in right for his 23rd career leadoff homer. He clapped his hands as he approached home, and a fan threw the ball back on the field.
St. Louis got another run in the second on Sierra's one-out single, but that was the Cardinals' last hit against John Lackey, who pitched seven solid innings.
Bryant connected for his 12th homer in the third, and the Cubs tied it at 2 in the sixth. But they wasted a prime chance to go in front.
Lynn departed after consecutive one-out walks, and Heyward followed with a towering fly ball to right against Tyler Lyons. Stephen Piscotty had trouble with the ball in the afternoon sun, and it landed on the warning track in front of the wall for an RBI double.
The Cubs had the bases loaded when Matt Bowman got pinch hitter Jon Jay to bounce into an inning-ending double play. Maddon originally sent Albert Almora Jr. up to hit for slumping slugger Kyle Schwarber and then switched to Jay when Cardinals manager Mike Matheny brought in Bowman.
Rizzo announced his engagement to girlfriend Emily Vakos by posting a picture of the happy couple to his Instagram and Twitter feeds.
"We were on a boat on Lake Michigan, had some fireworks go off, and it was great," Rizzo said. "She was totally surprised, so that's what I wanted. Somehow kept that under wraps."
Sierra was promoted from Double-A Springfield to replace infielder Jedd Gyorko, who was placed on paternity leave after Thursday's 2-0 victory over the Dodgers. Gyorko's wife, Karley, had a girl on Tuesday, named Brooklyn Ellee. Gyorko is expected to return to the team in time for Sunday night's series finale.
The 21-year-old Sierra made his major league debut last month and hit .367 (11 for 30) in seven games.
"He's a very even-keeled player," Matheny said. "He understands what he brings to the table and has a great chance to build on that."
Cubs left-hander Jon Lester (3-3, 3.86 ERA) and Cardinals right-hander Mike Leake (5-3, 2.24 ERA) match up in the second game of the series on Saturday. Lester struggled in his last start, allowing six runs in 3 1/3 innings in a loss to the Dodgers, but he is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in six home starts this season. Leake went 2-2 with a 3.09 ERA in five May starts.
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