Bullpen Implodes, Diamondbacks Crash the Cubs Party – Diamondbacks 7, Cubs 5

Game Twenty: Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 7

WP – Trevor Cahill (1-4) LP – Pedro Strop (0-2) Save – Addison Reed (4)

The Cubs took a 5-2 lead into the ninth inning on Wednesday before the backend of the Cubs’ bullpen suffered a major meltdown and gave up five runs in the ninth. Everything that could go wrong went wrong for the Cubs in the ninth. Pedro Strop could not throw strikes and issued two walks. Starlin Castro booted a routine grounder, a ball hit off the second base bag that allowed two runs to score and a blooper to right turned in to a two-run triple that ended up being the difference in the game. And Justin Ruggiano had to be helped off the field after suffering what appears to be a serious injury to his left hamstring.

Pedro Strop, James Russell and Justin Grimm could not close out a good outing and what should have been Jeff Samardzija’s first victory of the season. Strop missed the strike zone with his first seven pitches before getting a grounder off the bat of Tony Campana that should have been converted in to at least one out. Castro booted the ball, Strop walked pinch-hitter Eric Chavez to load the bases. After Strop struck out Gerardo Parra, Martin Prado hit a grounder up the middle that hit the corner of the second base bag and bounced into right field. Two runs scored and cut the Cubs lead to 5-4. Strop struck out Paul Goldschmidt swinging for the second out and Rick Renteria turned to James Russell to end the game.

Miguel Montero dropped a single into right in front of Justin Ruggiano to tie the game. Justin Grimm replaced Russell with two on, two out and the game tied at five. Aaron Hill blooped a 0-1 pitch down the right field line that Justin Ruggiano lumbered in to try to catch. Ruggiano tried to make a sliding catch, came up empty and hurt. Hill ended up at third with a two-run triple and Ruggiano had to be helped off the field. Grimm retired Cody Ross, the ninth batter to hit in the inning, but the damage had been done. And what was a very good day for the Cubs until the ninth inning turned ugly and ended in a loss.

Jeff Samardzija was not as sharp on Wednesday afternoon as he’d been in his previous four starts, but he was still very good. Samardzija settled down after a shaky start and put together his longest outing of the season. Samardzija notched his fifth quality start in as many opportunities after allowing two runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Samardzija pitched into the eighth inning and threw 113 pitches, 78 for strikes, in 7 1/3 innings.

Jeff Samardzija (0-for-2 with a RBI) even got into the act at the plate and until the ninth inning his sacrifice fly in the fifth inning would have been the game winning RBI.

Hector Rondon bailed Samardzija out of trouble in the eighth and preserved the three-run lead.

The Cubs offense did just enough on Wednesday and took advantage of a Diamondbacks’ error that led to a pair of unearned runs in the fifth inning. Darwin Barney (0-for-1 with a RBI, a SAC, a run scored and a walk) dropped down a perfect bunt in the fifth that plated Mike Olt (1-for-4 with a run scored) with the tying run. After an error on the play allowed Welington Castillo (1-for-4 with a run scored) and Barney to move up to second and third, Jeff Samardzija hit a sacrifice fly to right that plated Castillo with the go ahead run. Emilio Bonifacio (1-for-3 with a RBI) plated Barney with a fielder’s choice and gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead.

Justin Ruggiano (1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) hit his first home run in a Cubs’ uniform in the sixth inning with Anthony Rizzo (0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) on board.

The Cubs managed only five hits with three walks on the afternoon.

The Cubs defense had an inconsistent day. Junior Lake and Darwin Barney made sensational plays in the first inning but defense lapses in the second cost Samardzija a run. The team failed to turn double plays on three different occasions. The Cubs ended up being charged with two errors with Castro’s in the ninth being the biggest miscue of the game.

With Wednesday’s loss on the 100th Anniversary of Wrigley Field, the Cubs dropped to 7-13 on the season.

Jeff Samardzija retired the Diamondbacks in order in the first inning on seven pitches, three for strikes, thanks to excellent plays by Junior Lake and Darwin Barney. Lake made an excellent sliding catch near the sidewall to take away a hit from Parra and Barney ranged behind second to rob Goldschmidt of a hit to end the inning. But the Cubs’ defense cost Samardzija a run in the second inning.

Miguel Montero worked a walk to start the second inning. Samardzija fell behind the struggling Aaron Hill 3-1. Hill laced Samardzija’s 3-1 offering into center. Cody Ross tapped a 0-2 pitch back to the mound. Samardzija fielded the ball but his throw to second was low and through off the timing. Barney grabbed the low throw and stepped on the bag for the out. Barney’s throw to first was to the outfield side of the bag. Rizzo stretched and got a glove on the ball but could not haul it in. The missed double play put runners on first and third with one out. Chris Owings pulled a 0-1 pitch to the hole at short. Starlin Castro fielded the ball cleanly and made a quick, accurate throw to second. Barney’s throw to first had nothing on it and Owings beat out the one-hopper. Montero scored, 1-0 Diamondbacks on the fielder’s choice. Samardzija retired Campana on a grounder to Castro to end the inning. Samardzija needed 26 pitches, 15 for strikes, to complete two innings.

The game remained 1-0 Diamondbacks through the second, third and fourth innings. The Cubs managed only a Junior Lake single off Wade Miley in the first through four innings.

Mike Olt ripped a 0-1 pitch into left for a single to start the fifth inning. A wild pitch on a 0-2 offering to Castillo allowed Olt to move up ninety feet. Welington Castillo smoked a 1-2 pitch through the 5.5 hole and into left field. Olt held at third with no outs. Darwin Barney pushed a 1-1 pitch up the first baseline. Olt broke for the plate as Goldschmidt ran in to pick up the ball. Goldschmidt tossed the ball toward Hill covering first. Barney dove headfirst into the bag. Olt scored and tied the game at one as the ball skipped down the right field line. Castillo ended up at third and Barney at second with no outs. With the infield halfway in, Jeff Samardzija lifted a 2-2 pitch into right center. Castillo tagged after Campana hauled the ball in and scored, 2-1 Cubs. Barney advanced to third on the play. Kirk Gibson brought his infield in. Emilio Bonifacio chopped Miley’s first off the plate and to Owings at short. Barney scored and gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead as Owings threw out Bonifacio at first for the second out. Miley struck out Lake swinging to end the inning. Miley needed 89 pitches, 54 for strikes, to complete five innings on Wednesday.

Jeff Samardzija took the hill in the sixth with a 3-1 lead and gave one of the runs the Cubs scored in the fifth right back. Prado struck out swinging for the first out. Paul Goldschmidt pulled a 0-2 pitch into left for a single. Samardzija struck out Montero swinging (2-2 pitch) for the second out. But Aaron Hill blooped a 1-1 pitch into right for a single. With runners on first and second with two down, Cody Ross collected his first hit of the season (0-for-18) when he rolled a 3-2 pitch into right field. Goldschmidt scored, 3-2 Cubs. With runners on first and second with two down, Chris Owings popped out to Barney to end the inning … 85 pitches for Samardzija after six innings, 61 for strikes.

Wade Miley started the sixth by issuing a walk to Anthony Rizzo. Justin Ruggiano stepped in and drove a 2-1 pitch through the wind and into the bleachers in right center … 5-2 Cubs. Kirk Gibson decided that was enough for Miley and went to his pen for Brad Zeigler. Castro and Olt struck out swinging and Lake flied out to left to end the inning.

At the end of six innings, the Cubs led 5-2.

Jeff Samardzija pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning (101 pitches, 72 for strikes) and the Cubs could not add on in the home half after Emilio Bonifacio reached with a two-out double to left. Lake grounded out to the hole at short to end the seventh and Samardzija stayed in for the eighth.

Samardzija retired Prado on a grounder to Barney for the first out in the eighth. Paul Goldschmidt doubled to right and Rick Renteria made the slow walk to the mound. After a brief conference, Samardzija stayed in and issued a walk to Miguel Montero (3-1 pitch). Renteria went to his pen for Hector Rondon with Aaron Hill stepping in as the tying run. Hill smashed a 1-2 pitch toward third. Olt got in front of the ball but did not field it cleanly. Olt picked up the ball and dove toward the bag. Olt touched third with his glove just ahead of a sliding Goldschmidt. Cody Ross flied out to right center to end the eighth.

The Cubs did nothing in the eighth … and Pedro Strop took the hill for the ninth with the Cubs up 5-2.

Pedro Strop missed on his first seven pitches of the inning. Strop issued a four-pitch walk to Chris Owings then fell behind Tony Campana 3-0. After getting one over, Campana dribbled the fifth pitch of the at bat back up the middle. Starlin Castro ranged behind the bag and put himself into position to turn a 6-3 double play. But Castro bobbled the ball then could not get a grip on it as he stretched for the second base bag to try to get an out. The play was close and Renteria asked for a replay. The call was upheld and the Diamondbacks had runners on first and second with no outs. Strop walked pinch-hitter Eric Chavez to load the bases with no outs. Gibson sent A.J. Pollock into run for Chavez representing the tying run. Gerardo Parra struck out swinging on the tenth pitch of the at bat for the first out.

With the bases still loaded and one down, Martin Prado bounced a 1-0 pitch up the middle that hit the corner of the second base bag and bounced into right field. Instead of at least two outs and a run in, the Diamondbacks scored a pair, cut the Cubs lead to 5-4 and put the tying run on third base for Paul Goldschmidt. Strop struck out Goldschmidt swinging (0-2 pitch) for the second out. Renteria decided that was enough for Strop and went to his pen for James Russell to face Miguel Montero. Russell could not retire the lefty and the D-Backs tied the game when the ball fell in just in front of Justin Ruggiano in right field. Pollock scored from third and tied the game at five.

Rick Renteria went back to his pen for Justin Grimm. Aaron Hill blooped a 0-1 pitch down the right field line. Barney ran out, Ruggiano lumbered in and tried to make a sliding catch. Ruggiano made an awkward slide, came up empty and immediately rolled onto his stomach in obvious pain. Hill ended up a third with a two-run triple and the Diamondbacks took a 7-5 lead.

Ed Halbur and Rick Renteria helped Ruggiano off the field.

Justin Grimm retired Cody Ross on a flyout to Ryan Kalish in right to end the ninth.

The Cubs did nothing against Addison Reed in the ninth and lost a ballgame they had no right losing.

The Cubs and Diamondbacks wrap up the four-game series on Thursday afternoon (1:20pm CDT). Edwin Jackson faces Mike Bolsinger in the finale.

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Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon