9th inning rally falls short in 6-5 Cubs lossContinue reading.
Bad calls, bad hitting costs Cubs in 4-3 loss
Cubs manager Dale Sveum has talked repeatedly about the problems of his team’s one-dimensional offense: home runs and not much else.
As upset as he was with two controversial calls in the eighth inning, it was another case of stranding runners that Sveum knew cost his team in a 4-3 loss to the Houston Astros.
“It’s a broken record,’’ he said of the 1-for-7 mark with runners in scoring position and eight left on base. “We can’t seem to get a hit to bust open those situations. We get guys on base and can’t get them in.’’
When the Cubs left the bases loaded in the third, it was after they had scored two runs—one of them unearned because of two Astros errors. The bases were loaded with one out after those two runs scored.
But in the eighth with the score tied 3-3, a series of misplays were costly, and set the stage for the Astros to make good on their scoring chance—a leadoff double against Kevin Gregg (2-1) by Justin Maxwell, who scored on two successive sacrifices.
The Cubs eighth had Alfonso Soriano at second after a double with one out off reliever Jose Cisnero.
Anthony Rizzo was walked intentionally, but with Ryan Sweeney batting, Cisnero turned and threw to second. Soriano appeared to have gotten back safely, but was ruled out by umpire David Rackley.
“I never get made, but sometimes they make a bad call,’’ Soriano said. “I have respect for the umpires because they have a hard job, but when I get made at something, it’s because I believe I’m 100 percent right. I knew my lead at second and his move. But the umpires have a hard job.’’
It was more painful when Sweeney singled and then Welington Castillo walked to load the bases.
Darwin Barney thought he drew a run-scoring walk on a 3-1 inside pitch, dropping his bat to go to first.
But umpire Phil Cuzzi called it a strike.
Barney flew out to end the inning.
“It’s a shame,’’ Sveum said of the eighth—though it could have applied as well to starter Travis Wood, who had one bad pitch in one inning that led to the Astros first three runs.
The Astros had no hits after the second until the sixth. Wood retired the first two but then gave up singles to Jose Altuve and Chris Carter. J.D. Martinez then hit the first pitch he saw for a three-run homer.
“I have to bear down there,’’ said Wood, still recorded his 14th quality start—tops in the majors.
“It falls on me not being able to execute pitches. He came out hacking and did what he was supposed to do and I didn’t.
Wood still has the best ERA (2.85) among the starters, but has lost his last three starts before Saturday. In those three games, the Cubs scored a total of six runs.
Nate Schierholtz accounted for the other Cubs run Saturday with his solo homer in the fifth, his 10th of the season for a new career high.
The offense produced six other singles, but only Luis Valbuena’s hit drove in two runs.
The Cubs are 1-fo-16 with runners in scoring position in the last four games and only 18-for-108 (.167) in the category in the last 15 games.