Cubs Settle for a Split – Cubs 1, Diamondbacks 3

Game One Hundred – Cubs 1, Diamondbacks 3

WP – Wade Miley (7-8) LP – Carlos Villanueva (2-7) Save – Brad Ziegler (5)

With the focus on the pending trade of Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees, the Cubs dropped the finale of the four game series with the Diamondbacks on Thursday night. The Cubs ended up taking two of the four games but ended up losing the season series to Arizona (3-4).

The Cubs could not string together any hits as their struggles with runners on base and in scoring position continued on Thursday night. The Cubs went 1-for-13 with RISP on Thursday and left seven men on base. On the road trip, the Cubs are just 7-for-63 with runners in scoring position.

Carlos Villanueva did not help his case to stay in the Cubs’ rotation on Thursday night. Villanueva labored through a 37-pitch first inning but gave up only one run after walking the bases loaded. Villanueva struggled with his command throughout his five-inning start. The Cubs needed a long outing from Villanueva and he barely made it through five innings.

Aaron Hill drove in two of Arizona’s three runs off Villanueva that included a long homer in the fifth that capped the scoring. Carlos Villanueva allowed three runs on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Villanueva threw 103 pitches, 66 for strikes, in five innings.

Michael Bowden pitched two scoreless innings and Blake Parker put a zero on the board in the eighth. But the Cubs’ offense simply could not buy a hit with men in scoring position.

Welington Castillo (2-for-3 with a double, a RBI and a walk) doubled in the Cubs’ lone run in the seventh inning. The Cubs managed six hits, four for extra bases, but scored only one run.

Nate Schierholtz (2-for-4 with two doubles), Starlin Castro (1-for-3 with a double and a walk) and Junior Lake (1-for-4) collected hits in a losing effort.

With Thursday night’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 45-55 on the season and are 3-4 on the current 10-game trip with three left to play in San Francisco.

After the Cubs went down in order on 14 pitches in the first inning, Carlos Villanueva started his outing by walking Adam Eaton. Aaron Hill crushed a 1-1 pitch to deep left. The ball hit off the wall and Eaton ran through Matt Williams’ stop sign and scored, 1-0 D-Backs. Villanueva somehow struck out Paul Goldschmidt for the first out. Villanueva walked Jason Kubel (3-2 pitch) to put runners on first and second for Martin Prado. Lake hauled in a routine fly to retire Prado for the second out. Villanueva issued his third walk of the inning to Gerardo Parra and loaded the bases with two down. Villanueva struck out Wil Nieves swinging to end the inning.

Carlos Villanueva threw 37 pitches in the first inning, 19 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing in the second against Miley and Villanueva worked around a leadoff single by Cliff Pennington in the second. Villanueva needed 48 pitches, 28 for strikes, to complete two innings on Thursday night.

The game remained 1-0 Arizona through the third and into the bottom of the fourth. Villanueva retired Parra on a grounder to Barney for the first out in the inning. Wil Nieves followed and ripped a 0-1 pitch to deep right. The ball hit on the warning track and bounced over the wall for a ground rule double. Cliff Pennington drove a 1-0 pitch down the left field line. Cole Gillespie tried to make a diving catch on the line. But the ball hit off his glove and bounced over the wall in left … back-to-back ground rule doubles gave the D-Backs a 2-0 lead. Miley flied out to right and Villanueva caught Eaton looking to end the inning. Villanueva threw 82 pitches, 52 for strikes, over the first four innings.

After four complete, the Cubs trailed 2-0.

The Cubs failed to string anything together against Miley in the fifth. Aaron Hill led off the fifth with a booming homer into the stands in left … 3-0 Diamondbacks. Villanueva did not allow another run in the fifth and left the game trailing 3-0.

The game remained 3-0 Arizona until the seventh when the Cubs finally put a run on the board.

Nate Schierholtz led off the seventh with a double into the right field corner. Cole Gillespie walked but Darwin Barney chopped a 0-1 pitch toward third. Martin Prado made the short-hop pick near the bag at third, stepped on the base and threw across the diamond to complete the 5-3 double play. Gillespie held at second on the play.

Welington Castillo drove a 0-1 pitch to deep center. Easton raced back but his diving attempt came up short. Gillespie scored, 3-1 Arizona, and Castillo ended up a second with two down. Luis Valbuena, who came in as part of a double switch with Michael Bowden in the sixth, flied out to right for the third out.

Michael Bowden retired the side in order in the seventh and Blake Parker kept Arizona off the board in the eighth. The game went to the ninth with the Cubs down 3-1.

Brad Zeigler replaced J.J. Putz and Nate Schierholtz greeted him with a deep drive to center. A fan reached over the wall and caught the ball with his cap. Schierholtz was awarded second on fan interference. David DeJesus hit for Gillespie and struck out swinging. Barney tapped back to the mound (3-2 pitch), Schierholtz advanced to third but was stranded when Welington Castillo tried to check his swing on a 0-2 pitch but popped the ball up to Aaron Hill to end the game.

The Cubs open a three-game series on Friday night in San Francisco … Edwin Jackson versus Matt Cain in game one.

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Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax