Cubs Can’t Finish Off the Friars – Padres 4, Cubs 3

Game Forty-Eight: Cubs 3, Padres 4

WP – Ian Kennedy (3-6) LP – Jason Hammel (5-3) Save – Huston Street (14)

The Cubs had a chance at winning their first series on the road since last September after taking two of the first three in San Diego. Junior Lake broke up a scoreless game in the sixth inning with a solo home run and his sixth longball of the year put the Cubs up 1-0. Jason Hammel lost his command in the bottom of the sixth, recorded only two outs and before the Cubs’ pen could get out of the inning, the Padres scored four runs and put the game out of reach.

The Cubs tried to mount a comeback in the ninth against Huston Street. Anthony Rizzo (0-for-3 with a walk) walked on four pitches and scored on a Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) big fly to left center. Castro’s seventh longball of the season made it a one run game. Street retired Valbuena on a grounder to first, struck out Olt and Schierholtz flied out to deep left center to end the game.

Rick Renteria had to settle for a split of the four-game series in his return to San Diego.

Jason Hammel allowed one baserunner over the first four innings. Hammel hit Will Venable, but that was it for the first four frames. Hammel found a rhythm and needed only 50 pitches, 32 strikes, to record 12 outs. Hammel gave up a pair of hits in the fifth as he started to miss his spots but he picked off Cameron Maybin and struck out Rene Rivera to end the fifth inning.

The Padres showed rare patience against Hammel in the sixth as he struggled to get the ball in the strike zone. Hammel gave up only one hit in the sixth but allowed the Padres to tie the game on a sacrifice fly to right before he left the game. James Russell served up a run scoring single to Carlos Quentin that gave the Padres a 2-1 lead and Brian Schlitter allowed a double off the bat of Jedd Gyorko that plated two more runs after Emilio Bonifacio bobbled the ball.

Jason Hammel was charged with three runs on three hits with two walks, a HBP and five strikeouts. Hammel threw 90 pitches, 54 for strikes (40 pitches over the last 1 2/3 innings) in 5 1/3 innings.

Brian Schlitter pitched a scoreless seventh after picking up the final out in the sixth. Justin Grimm was very good in the eighth. Grimm hit his spots and retired all three batters he faced on 10 pitches, seven for strikes.

The Cubs offense was pretty much non-existent on Sunday afternoon and managed one run on three hits in the first eight innings.  Junior Lake (1-for-3 with a home run and a walk), Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI), John Baker (1-for-3 with a double) collected the Cubs four hits while Luis Valbuena (0-for-2 with two walks) and Anthony Rizzo (0-for-3 with a walk) collected walks.

With Sunday’s loss (3-5 on Sunday in 2014), the Cubs slipped to 18-30 on the season.

Jason Hammel and Ian Kennedy put zeroes on the board in the first five innings of Sunday’s game. The Cubs managed only one hit off Kennedy while the offense ran up his pitch count (82 pitches, 57 for strikes). And Jason Hammel surrendered only two hits over the first five innings on 66 pitches, 42 for strikes.

Ian Kennedy retired Bonifacio on a grounder to short for the first out in the sixth. Junior Lake stepped in and pulled a 0-1 pitch to deep left. The ball barely left the park as it appeared Seth Smith made a leaping catch at the wall. Smith bent over near the wall and Lake even stopped running between second and third because he thought Smith had caught the ball. A confused Lake finished rounding the bases and the Cubs took a 1-0 lead. Rizzo popped out to Headley down the third base line and Castro struck out swinging to end the inning.

The sixth inning was a real struggle for Jason Hammel and he could not wiggle out of the jam without allowing the Padres to tie the game and Rick Renteria going to his bullpen. Tommy Medica led off the sixth hitting for Ian Kennedy. Medica singled to center on a 1-2 pitch. Everth Cabrera wanted to bunt Medica to second but Hammel would not throw him a strike. Cabrera walked. Will Venable tried to bunt the runners up ninety feet. But he bunted too hard to the third base side of the mound. Hammel picked up the ball and threw out Medica at third base. Hammel continued to struggle with his command and walked Seth Smith to load the bases with one out. Hammel fell behind Headley 3-1. Chase Headley pulled Hammel’s next pitch into right. Schierholtz caught the ball, Cabrera tagged and scored … game tied at one.

Rick Renteria decided that was enough for Jason Hammel and went to his pen for James Russell with the lefty Yonder Alonso due to hit. Bud Black countered with Carlos Quentin and he beat the Cubs once again. Quentin pulled a 3-1 pitch into left. Venable scored, 2-1 Padres. Renteria went back to his bullpen and brought in Brian Schlitter to face Jedd Gyorko as Bud Black sent in Tyson Ross to run for Quentin. The Padres second baseman drove Schlitter’s first pitch into right center. Smith scored, 3-1 Padres. Ross was going to be held at third but when Bonifacio bobbled the ball, Ross was sent and scored, 4-1 Padres. Maybin grounded out to short to finally end the inning.

At the end of six complete, the Padres led 4-1.

Brian Schlitter kept the Padres off the board in the seventh and Joaquin Benoit retired three of the four batters he faced in the eighth. Justin Grimm pitched a scoreless eighth.

Anthony Rizzo led off the ninth with a walk against Huston Street. Starlin Castro stepped in and launched a 1-1 pitch to deep left center. Castro’s two-run homer, and seventh longball of the season, cut the Padres lead to 4-3. Valbuena grounded out to first, Olt struck out and Schierholtz flied out to deep left center to end the game.

The Cubs open a three-game series on Monday afternoon (3:05pm CDT) in San Francisco. Jeff Samardzija is scheduled to face Yusmeiro Petit in the opener on Memorial Day.

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