Game One Hundred Sixty-One – Cubs 0, Astros 3
WP – Bud Norris (7-13) LP – Chris Volstad (3-12) Save – Wilton Lopez (10)
For the second night in a row, the Cubs were not able to push a run across the plate. Five different Astros’ pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout … the 16th time the Cubs have been shut out this season. The Cubs had chances early on and left runners in scoring position in four of the first five innings. The Cubs managed just seven baserunners all night while two of the Astros’ three runs were unearned.
Chris Volstad notched his first quality start since August 26, and the first for the Cubs since September 20, with a strong seven-inning performance. Volstad equaled his season-high in strikeouts (6) that he set in his first start of the season. Volstad allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits without a walk and six strikeouts on 92 pitches, 66 for strikes. Volstad made only one mistake in his last start of the season. Jason Castro lined a 1-2 pitch into the first row of the bleachers in right field. Volstad departed after seven innings with his team down 2-0.
Alberto Cabrera gave the Astros their third run in the eighth inning. Cabrera could not find the strike zone and allowed a run on two walks, his own throwing error and a wild pitch. The Astros put one ball in play, and it was a groundout to first base.
Jeff Beliveau and Michael Bowden did not allow any runs or hits in what was likely their final appearances of the season.
After being shut out on two hits on Monday night, the Cubs were shut out on four hits on Tuesday night. Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with two doubles) reached on two gift doubles, one in the second and the other in the fourth. The Cubs put runners in scoring position in the second, third, four and fifth innings but came away empty. The offense managed only two baserunners the rest of the night after Castro’s double in the fourth. The Cubs were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven runners on base.
Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4) collected a hit in what was likely his final game of the season. Brett Jackson (1-for-2 with a walk) reached twice in three plate appearances but was picked off second base with one out in the third.
With Tuesday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 60-101 for the season with one game left to play …
The Cubs did nothing in the first. Jose Altuve took a hit away from Darwin Barney on a ball ticketed for centerfield. Bud Norris threw only 10 pitches in the first inning, seven for strikes.
The Astros jumped on Chris Volstad in the second and took advantage of an error by Starlin Castro. Matt Dominguez grounded out to Barney and Brett Wallace tapped back to the mound. Volstad then got ahead of Jason Castro 1-2. Castro lined Volstad’s next pitch into the first row of the bleachers in right field. Justin Maxwell ripped a 1-2 pitch back up the middle that Castro should have fielded. The ball went under his glove and into left center. Maxwell hustled out of the box and slid in headfirst at second. Castro’s error ended up costing the Cubs a run. Tyler Greene lashed Volstad’s first pitch into right. David DeJesus charged the ball and made a strong throw toward the plate. Anthony Rizzo cut off the ball, threw to second and Greene was caught in a rundown. Greene avoided Barney’s tag by running out of the baseline. The call was not made. Greene was allowed to stay at first and Volstad struck out Norris swinging to end the inning … 29 pitches for Volstad after two, 21 for strikes.
Alfonso Soriano struck out swinging to start the second. Starlin Castro popped a 1-2 pitch into shallow right center. The wind pushed the ball back toward right. Scott Moore ran in, the ball hit off his glove and Moore landed awkwardly, rolled over on his shoulder and injured himself. Castro ended up at second with what was ruled a double. Moore left the game and was replaced by Brandon Barnes. Luis Valbuena popped out to left and Welington Castillo popped out to center for the third out. Norris needed 23 pitches, 18 for strikes, to complete two innings.
After two, the Cubs trailed 2-0.
Chris Volstad set down the side in order in the third. Volstad threw 42 pitches, 31 for strikes, over three innings.
Brett Jackson worked a walk to start the third. Volstad bunted Jackson to second. David DeJesus also walked (3-1 pitch) and the Cubs had runners on first and second with one down. Darwin Barney squared to bunt on Norris’ first pitch. Barney took the pitch … and Jackson drifted off second too far. Jason Castro threw behind Jackson to second and Tyler Greene eventually tagged him out. DeJesus made it to second but was stranded when Barney grounded out to third. Norris needed just 38 pitches, 25 for strikes, to complete three innings of work.
Chris Volstad gave up a one-out bloop single to Brett Wallace in the fourth but that was all. Jason Castro flied out to left and Justin Maxwell flied out to right to end the inning. Volstad needed 59 pitches, 42 for strikes, to complete four innings.
Anthony Rizzo struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) to start the fourth. Alfonso Soriano drove a 2-2 pitch into right for a single … the Cubs’ second hit of the game. Starlin Castro collected his second gift-double of the game. Castro drove a 1-0 pitch into right center. Brandon Barnes and Justin Maxwell did not communicate. The ball fell in between the two outfielders and rolled to the wall. Soriano held at third on Castro’s 29th two-bagger of the season. The Cubs inability to change their approach with runners in scoring position hurt them once again. Luis Valbuena took a full swing on a 2-2 pitch and struck out … and so did Welington Castillo (struck out swinging on 2-2 pitch).
After four, the Cubs trailed 2-0 and were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position with four left on base.
Tyler Greene led off the fifth with a swinging bunt toward third. Greene broke his bat on the 1-1 pitch and Valbuena could not make the play. Bud Norris bunted Greene to second. Jose Altuve hit Volstad’s first pitch to Castro. Greene held as Castro threw to first for the out. Greene swiped third on the first pitch to Barnes but was stranded when Barnes grounded out to Valbuena to end the inning … 68 pitches for Volstad after five, 48 for strikes.
Jose Altuve left due to an injury (left groin) prior to the bottom of the fifth. Jed Lowrie took over at short and Tyler Greene moved to second. Brett Jackson pulled a 0-1 pitch into right for a leadoff single. Volstad bunted Jackson to second. Brett Wallace made an excellent diving stop to take away a hit and a RBI from DeJesus. Jackson advanced to third but was stranded when Barney grounded out to Lowrie. Bud Norris threw 74 pitches, 47 for strikes, over five innings … and the Cubs were 0-for-7 with RISP and left five runners on base.
Chris Volstad struck out J.D. Martinez looking to start the sixth. Matt Dominguez blooped a single into shallow center … but Brett Wallace hit into a 3-6 double play to end the inning. Volstad threw 79 pitches, 57 for strikes, in six innings of work.
The Cubs did nothing in the sixth … 80 pitches for Norris after six, 52 for strikes.
Chris Volstad retired the side in order in the seventh. Volstad threw 92 pitches, 66 for strikes, in seven innings.
The Cubs did nothing against Xavier Cedeno in the seventh … 1-2-3 for the lefty on 10 pitches, eight for strikes.
Alberto Cabrera started the eighth and gave the Astros a run. Cabrera walked pinch-hitter Brian Bogusevic on five pitches to start the inning. Cabrera then uncorked a wild throw to first before a 1-1 pitch to Lowrie. Bogusevic advanced to second on the Cubs’ second error of the game. Lowrie grounded out to first, Bogusevic advanced to third then scored on a wild pitch. Cabrera ended up walking Brandon Barnes and Dale Sveum decided that was enough. Cabrera threw 15 pitches, six for strikes. Jeff Beliveau retired pinch-hitter Brandon Laird on a foul out to Rizzo. Matt Dominguez stepped in but before a 1-1 pitch, Beliveau caught Barnes leaning and picked him off first to end the inning (1-3-4).
Chuckie Fick started the eighth and retired pinch-hitter Dave Sappelt on a grounder to third. Wesley Wright took over with the top of the lineup due up. David DeJesus hit a 3-2 pitch up the first baseline. Wright fielded the ball with his barehand but as he was running to first, he stumbled then tried to flip the ball to Wallace at first. The ball got past Wallace and DeJesus ended up at first on the Astros’ first error of the game. But Darwin Barney looked at a 2-2 pitch for the second out and Anthony Rizzo struck out swinging to end the inning.
The game went to the ninth with the Cubs down 3-0.
Michael Bowden retired Matt Dominguez on a flyout to center for the first out in the ninth. Brett Wallace walked but Bowden struck out both Jason Castro and Justin Maxwell swinging to end the inning.
Wilton Lopez retired Alfonso Soriano (groundout to third) and Starlin Castro (flyout to right center) quickly to start the ninth. Luis Valbuena worked a walk but Welington Castillo popped Lopez’s first pitch into shallow right to end the game.
Travis Wood will face Edgar Gonzalez in the last game of the season on Wednesday afternoon.
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