Cubs Ground Into a Loss – Cubs 4, Cardinals 5

Game Thirty-Four – Cubs 4, Cardinals 5

WP – Seth Maness (2-0) LP – Michael Bowden (1-2) Save – Edward Mujica (8)

Wednesday’s loss to the Cardinals was a snapshot of the Cubs’ season to this point. A solid effort from a starting pitcher wasted by the bullpen with a mistake giving the opponent an extra opportunity to tie or take the lead … and the offense unable to capitalize on scoring opportunities with runners on base late in the game.

The Cubs took a 4-3 lead into the seventh inning of Wednesday’s finale with the Redbirds thanks to a serviceable six innings from Carlos Villanueva and just enough offense early on against Jake Westbrook. Villanueva started the seventh by walking Pete Kozma but a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out erased the free pass and emptied the bases. Dale Sveum went to his pen for James Russell with the lefty Matt Carpenter due up. Carpenter doubled to right, took third on a Nate Schierholtz error and scored the tying run when Carlos Beltran lined a two-out single into left field. Russell gave up his first run of the season and was hung with his second blown save of the year … the Cubs’ bullpen has blown nine leads late in game and is just 9-for-18 in save opportunities.

Michael Bowden let the go ahead run score in the eighth. Yadier Molina singled to right, moved up to second on a wild pitch and scored on a Jon Jay single.

Carlos Villanueva picked up another no decision after allowing three runs on seven hits with three walks, a hit batsman and two strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. Villanueva struggled with his control but after a rough first inning he was able to put his team in position to win the game. Two of the three runs charged to Villanueva reached on a walk and a HBP. Villanueva ended up throwing 101 pitches, 56 for strikes, after he was able to turn his outing around.

The Cubs offense did something on Wednesday a Cubs team had not done in nearly 13 years (June 30, 2000). The Cubs grounded into a double play in four consecutive innings (fifth-eighth) and could not tack on or mount a late comeback. Sveum’s team was a miserable 1-for-9 with RISP and left four men on base in another one-run loss (5-8 in one-run games this season).

Luis Valbuena (1-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored), Anthony Rizzo (3-for-4 with a double and a run scored) and Nate Schierholtz (2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored) helped build an early lead on Wednesday while Dioner Navarro (0-for-4 with a RBI) and Ryan Sweeney (1-for-4) manufactured one of the Cubs’ four runs. But no one was able to come up with a clutch hit, or a productive out late in the game.

The Cubs defense turned four double plays on Wednesday and made several excellent plays. The error, wild pitch and hit batsman really hurt and gave a very good team in the Cardinals extra outs, and bases.

With Wednesday’s loss, the Cubs finished the 10-game homestand with a 4-6 mark and will spend Thursday’s off day with a 13-21 record.

Carlos Villanueva walked Matt Carpenter to start the game. After Carlos Beltran singled to right and advanced Carpenter to third, Matt Holliday rapped into a 5-4-3 double play. Carpenter scored, 1-0 Cardinals. Villanueva issued his second free pass of the inning to Allen Craig. Molina flied out to center to end the inning. Villanueva threw 20 pitches in the first inning, eight for strikes.

The Cubs tied the game in the home-half of the first. After DeJesus and Castro made two quick outs, Luis Valbuena singled to center on a 2-2 pitch. Anthony Rizzo then doubled to right. Valbuena was going to stop at third but ended up scoring after Beltran bobbled the ball. With Schierholtz at the plate, Rizzo took off for third. Molina threw him out easily to end the inning.

The game remained tied at one until the fourth.

Villanueva hit Allen Craig with a 1-2 pitch to start the inning. Yadier Molina then singled to right. Craig advanced to third with no outs. Jon Jay flied out to left center. Craig tagged and scored, 2-1 Cardinals. David Freese grounded into a 6-4-3 inning ending double play.

Luis Valbuena walked to start the Cubs’ fourth. Anthony Rizzo followed with a single to left (2-2 pitch). With runners on first and second with no outs, Nate Schierholtz pulled a 3-2 pitch down the right field line. The ball hit off the sidewall and both Valbuena and Rizzo scored to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead. Ryan Sweeney then pulled a grounder to first. Schierholtz advanced to third with one out.

With the infield in, Dioner Navarro rolled a 1-1 pitch out to Carpenter at second. Schierholtz scored but Molina threw out Navarro at first for the second out. Ransom grounded out to third to end the inning.

At the end of four, the Cubs led 4-2.

The Cardinals got one of the runs right back in the fifth and it could have been worse if not for Ryan Sweeney.

Pete Kozma led off the fifth with a single to center. Westbrook failed to bunt him to second. Matt Carpenter reached with a drag bunt up the first baseline. With runners on first and second with one out, Carlos Beltran singled to left center. Kozma scored easily before Carpenter rounded second too far. Sweeney threw behind Carpenter and nailed him at second. Matt Holliday followed with a single to left that put runners on first and second with two down. Allen Craig hit a sinking liner into right on a 3-2 pitch, Schierholtz raced in and made a sliding catch to end the inning.

The game remained 4-3 until the top of the seventh.

Carlos Villanueva issued a four-pitch walk to Pete Kozma to start the seventh. Daniel Descalso quickly fell behind 0-2 but Villanueva could not put him away. Descalso worked a full count before striking out swinging. Kozma took off for second on the 3-2 offering and Navarro threw him out at second.

Dale Sveum made the slow walk and went to his pen for James Russell. Lefty Matt Carpenter stepped in and pulled a 1-2 pitch into the right field corner. Carpenter was credited with a double after ending up at third … Schierholtz dropped the ball. Carlos Beltran lined a 3-2 pitch into left. Carpenter scored and tied the game at four. Russell refocused and struck out Matt Holliday swinging to end the inning.

After the Cubs were unable to string together any hits in the seventh inning, Michael Bowden took the hill for the eighth and quickly gave up the go ahead run.

Yadier Molina blooped a single into left with one down. Jon Jay stepped in and Bowden’s second offering to Jay got past Navarro. Molina took second on the wild pitch and scored on the very next pitch when Jay singled to center. Matt Adams pinch hit and grounded into a 3-6-1 double play to end the inning.

The Cubs wasted a chance to at least tie the game in the eighth. Luis Valbuena worked a one out walk against Trevor Rosenthal. Mike Matheny went to his pen for left Randy Choate to face Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo singled to right. Valbuena ended up at third but Nate Schierholtz grounded into a 4-6-3 inning ending double play … the fourth double play in as many innings for the Cubs.

The Cubs have their first scheduled off day on Thursday since April 15. The Cubs open a three-game series in D.C. against the Nationals on Friday night … Jeff Samardzija against lefty Ross Detwiler.

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Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver