Cubs Bullpen Giveth Away – Marlins 4, Cubs 3

Game Sixty: Cubs 3, Marlins 4

WP – Mike Dunn (5-3) LP – Pedro Strop (0-3, BS 1) Save – Steve Cishek (14)

The bullpen had a rough afternoon and could not hold leads of 2-0 in the seventh and 3-2 in the eighth as the Cubs lost a one-run game at Wrigley Field on Sunday afternoon. The Cubs were not able to complete the sweep over the Marlins and ended a very good homestand (5-1) by losing a winnable ballgame.

Jake Arrieta was very, very good. Arrieta threw strikes and faced just one over the minimum through five innings. Arrieta struck out the side in the third while allowing the Marlins to only put two runners into scoring position during his six innings. Arrieta struck out eight batters, did not walk a batter and turned over a three-hit shutout to the pen in the seventh.

For one of the few times of late, the bullpen struggled. Both Brian Schlitter and Pedro Strop were left in too long. Brian Schlitter gave up two runs on three hits with a walk in an inning of work. Pedro Strop struggled with his command again. Strop gave the Marlins three free base runners in a one-run game and two of them scored. Christian Yelich walked and scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly. Strop hit Giancarlo Stanton and he scored the eventual winning run on a wild pitch.

Pedro Strop was tagged with the loss after allowing two runs on one hit with two walks, a hit batsman and two strikeouts.

While there were opportunities for more, the offense did their job against a very good pitching staff. The Cubs scored three runs against Henderson Alvarez and the Marlins pen. The offense managed three runs on nine hits and finished the game 2-for-12 with RISP and left 10 men on base.

Nate Schierholtz (1-for-4 with a triple and two RBI) tripled in Starlin Castro (1-for-5 with a double and a run scored) and Luis Valbuena (1-for-3 with a double, a walk, a RBI and a run scored) in the sixth and Valbuena worked a bases loaded walk in the eighth that gave the Cubs a short-lived 3-2 lead.

In the end the Cubs did not do the little things on Sunday they had over the first five games of the homestand. The Cubs finished the homestand with a 5-1 record in six games and have won eight of ten at Wrigley Field.

With Sunday’s loss (3-7 on Sunday in 2014), the Cubs slipped back to 25-35 on the season.

Jake Arrieta and Henderson Alvarez put nothing but zeroes on the board over the first five innings. The Cubs had several chances to score runs while Arrieta faced one over the minimum through five innings. Arrieta needed 72 pitches, 44 for strikes, to complete five innings.

Jake Arrieta gave up his third hit of the game to Henderson Alvarez with one out in the sixth. Christian Yelich hit a slow grounder toward second. Bonifacio fielded the ball and flipped to Castro for the out at second. Yelich beat Castro’s throw to first. Yelich swiped second with Lucas at the plate, just the second runner for the Marlins in scoring position on the afternoon. Arrieta retired Lucas on a grounder to short for the third out.

Anthony Rizzo led off the bottom of the sixth in a scoreless game and struck out swinging. Starlin Castro pulled a 0-2 pitch into the gap in left. The ball rolled to the wall and Castro ended up at second with a double. Luis Valbuena pulled a 1-1 pitch toward first. Garrett Jones made an excellent diving stop toward the hole. But his throw to Alvarez was extremely high. Alvarez stretched, caught the ball and tried to step back at the same time to touch the bag. Alvarez missed, landed awkwardly as he extended his left leg. After he made sure the play was over, Alvarez lay on the ground in obvious pain. Alvarez was able to get to his feet and threw a warm-up toss before Mike Redmond pulled him from the game. Shortly after he left the game, it was announced Henderson Alvarez strained his left hip.

Dan Jennings replaced Alvarez with runners on first and third with one out. Redmond left his infield back and Nate Schierholtz pulled a 2-2 pitch past Garrett Jones and down the first baseline. The ball hit off the side wall, Castro and Valbuena scored, 2-0 Cubs, on Schierholtz’s third triple of the season. With the infield in, Chris Coghlan grounded a 2-2 pitch back up the middle. Schierholtz broke on contact. Lucas threw to the plate. Schierholtz was caught in a run down and eventually tagged out. John Baker was caught looking at a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.

After six complete, the Cubs had a 2-0 lead.

Brian Schlitter replaced Arrieta for the seventh. Giancarlo Stanton flied out to center (2-1 pitch) for the first out. Schlitter walked Casey McGehee. Garrett Jones lined out to right. Marcell Ozuna followed and dribbled one toward third that Valbuena tried to barehand, but he could not get a handle on it. Ozuna reached first and put two on with two down for J.T. Realmuto. The Marlins’ back-up backstop singled to right on a 0-2 pitch, McGehee scored and cut the Cubs lead to 2-1. Adeiny Hechavarria blooped a 3-2 pitch into right. Ozuna scored and tied the game at two. With runners on first and third with two down, Reed Johnson hit for Jennings and grounded out to short for the third out.

After six and a half, the game was tied at two.

Darwin Barney hit for Brian Schlitter to lead off the seventh and A.J. Ramos hit him with a 3-2 pitch to start the inning. Bonifacio bunted Barney to second. Junior Lake popped a 1-0 pitch into right. The wind grabbed the ball and pushed it toward foul ground. Stanton could not make a sliding catch. And the Cubs had runners on second and third with one out. Anthony Rizzo was intentionally walked to load the bases for Castro. Starlin Castro did not put together a good at bat. He expanded his strike zone and struck out swinging on a ball well outside of the zone. Mike Redmond went to his pen and switched out the righty Ramos for the lefty Mike Dunn. Luis Valbuena worked a full count before looking at ball four. Valbuena walked and forced in Barney with the go ahead run, 3-2 Cubs. Schierholtz was caught looking to end the inning.

At the end of seven innings, the Cubs had a 3-2 lead.

Pedro Strop struggled with his command and walked Christian Yelich to start the eighth. Lucas struck out swinging, but Strop hit Giancarlo Stanton. Casey McGehee singled to center and loaded the bases with one out. Garrett Jones hit a liner out to left that Coghlan caught. Yelich tagged and scored, game tied at three. Luis Valbuena did not give full effort on Coghlan’s throw from the outfield. The ball skipped past him and both Stanton and McGehee moved up ninety feet. Strop intentionally walked Ozuna to load the bases. And Strop’s first pitch to Realmuto bounced well in front of Baker and skipped away. Stanton scored, 4-3 Marlins. Strop caught Realmuto looking at a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

The Cubs could not cash in a leadoff walk by Chris Coghlan in the bottom of the eighth and did nothing against Steve Cishek in the ninth.

The Cubs were given every opportunity to win their sixth game in a row. But poor execution and decisions ended a very good homestand on a sour note.

The Cubs begin a very challenging 10-game road trip on Monday night (6:05pm CDT) with the first of four against the Pirates. Edwin Jackson is scheduled to face Charlie Morton in the opener.

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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