Game Sixty-Nine – Cubs 3, Cardinals 4
WP – Adam Wainwright (6-4) LP – Jason Hammel (7-3) Save – Trevor Rosenthal (14)
The Cubs had plenty of opportunities to score runs Tuesday night, but the offense could not come up with a clutch hit. And for the first time this season, the Cubs lost on back-to-back days at Wrigley Field.
Joe Maddon put Tuesday night’s game in the proper context, “That was kind of like Groundhog Day.” It was another day and another one-run loss to the Cardinals.
For the second straight day the game went to the ninth with the Cubs down by one run. The Cubs put the tying and winning runs on base after Addison Russell singled and Javier Baez walked. Matt Szczur hit a grounder back up the middle that Aledmys Diaz tracked down and stepped on second base to end the game.
The Cubs had plenty of chances to score runs and the young lineup was unable to deliver. The Cubs put the leadoff man on base in six of the first seven innings. And the Cubs had runners on base in every inning but the fifth. The Cubs finished the night 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, left seven men on base and grounded into three double plays.
The Cubs played a good game, just didn’t do the little things right it takes to win one.
Anthony Rizzo (1-for-2 with a walk and a sac fly) gave the Cubs a short lived 1-0 lead in the first inning. After Chris Coghlan (1-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored) led off with a single to left, Jason Heyward (1-for-3 with a double, a walk and a RBI) walked. Kris Bryant (0-for-4) flied out to right center. Coghlan went to third with one out. Rizzo lifted a 2-0 pitch to center. Kolten Wong caught the ball, Coghlan tagged and scored, 1-0 Cubs.
The Cardinals tied it up in the second inning as Jason Hammel began elevating his pitches. Stephen Piscotty started the second with a double to right. Peralta fouled out to Rizzo and Molina grounded out to Rizzo. With Piscotty at third and two down, Brandon Moss singled to center. Piscotty trotted in with the tying run.
The Cardinals played longball in the third inning. Hammel elevated another fastball that Matt Carpenter hit out to center. After a single by Aledmys Diaz, Hammel hung a slider to Matt Holliday that he hit into the bleachers in left center. The Cardinals took a 4-1 lead. Adam Wainwright and the Redbirds’ bullpen made the four runs hold up.
The Cubs cut into the three-run lead in the bottom of the third. Chris Coghlan led off with a walk and scored from first base on a ringing double to center by Jason Heyward.
Willson Contreras (1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) had another impressive game at the plate. With the Cubs trailing 4-2 in the fourth, Contreras led off with a single to right. Addison Russell (3-for-4 with a double) singled to center. Contreras motored to third. And the Cubs appeared to be in business. Albert Almora Jr. (0-for-4) grounded into a 4-3 double play. Contreras scored and cut the Cardinals lead to 4-3. The rally stalled and Hammel struck out swinging to end the inning.
The difference in the game was a three-batter sequence to start the third inning. The Cardinals tied the game in the second before taking the lead for good in the third.
Jason Hammel had command issues in the third. Matt Carpenter gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead on a solo homer to center. Hammel elevated a 3-2 fastball and Carpenter crushed the mistake. Aledmys Diaz followed and smoked a hanging slider into left for a single. And Matt Holliday launched a hanging slider (1-1 pitch) into the bleachers in left center. Before Hammel could get his breath in the third inning, he gave up three runs on three hits, with two leaving the yard.
Jason Hammel turned the game over to lefty Gerardo Concepcion with two outs and one on in the sixth. Concepcion, making his big league debut, struck out Brandon Moss swinging to end the inning … and closed the book on Hammel.
Jason Hammel allowed four runs on six hits (two home runs) with a walk, a hit batsman and three strikeouts. Hammel made 90 pitches, 60 for strikes, in 5 2/3 innings.
Gerardo Concepcion stayed in for the seventh inning. The lefty retired all three batters he faced. Concepcion was sharp and struck out his first two batters in the big leagues.
Pedro Strop and Travis Wood each pitched a scoreless inning. The bullpen did its job in relief of Jason Hammel. The offense came up short for the second game in a row.
With Tuesday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to 47-22 on the season.
Weather permitting … Jake Arrieta is scheduled to take on Michael Wacha in the series finale on Wednesday afternoon (1:20pm CDT).