The Chicago Cubs headed north with an opportunity to close the gap between themselves and the fourth place Milwaukee Brewers. However, after dropping all three, they head back to Wrigley Field to face the Colorado Rockies in worse shape than when they left.
Monday could have turned out differently had the Brewers not been given one massive inning. By massive, I mean largest offensive output for a single inning in two years. By plating eight runs in the bottom of the fifth, the Brewers effectively wiped out the Cubs’ 3-1 lead and stymied any chance of a comeback. The Cubs did cut the lead, with late runs in the seventh and ninth innings, but it wasn’t enough. Mark Rogers got his first Major League win, striking out 12 Cubs in the process. Jonathan Lucroy provided some bang, hitting two home runs, including one of the 3-run variety.
Josh Vitters hit his first career home run, but that was the lone highlight. Starter Justin Germano managed only 4 2/3 innings, giving up eight hits and seven earned runs. As for the Cubs’ proficiency, they were 1-10 with runners in scoring position.
After Tuesday’s game, it might become any remaining opponents’ modus operandi to start pitchers who have yet to earn a win. Marco Estrada followed suit of Rogers and earned his first win of the 2012 season. He kept the Cubs scoreless for six innings and struck out nine.
Cubs’ pitcher Chris Rusin made his debut and retired the first nine batters he faced. He worked himself into a jam in the fourth inning – hitting two batters and walking another – but worked out of it with minimal damage, only allowing one run. However, trouble found him again in the sixth. After walking the bases loaded, Rusin threw a wild pitch to score a run and then Lucroy roped a double into left-field giving the ‘Crew a 4-0 lead. Those were Lucroy’s sixth RBI of the series.
Rusin only surrendered one hit, but walks and hit batters doomed him.
Again, the Cubs tried to rally late in the game with two runs in the ninth. The Brewers have no problem with sharing innings among their bullpen pitchers. Eventually, the turn came to John Axford for the save opportunity, which he converted.
The on-field conditions of Wednesday’s game perfectly described the Cubs’ 2012 season: some sun, mostly shade.
Travis Wood and Yovani Gallardo took the bump for their respective clubs. The Cubs, looking to avoid the sweep came out swinging early. David DeJesus led off the game with a home run to give the Cubs the early lead. It wouldn’t last long, however. In the bottom half of the first, the Brewers answered right back with two runs of their own.
The game remained tight until the sixth when Ryan Braun added some insurance for the Brewers with a solo home run. The Cubs managed to get back within one run in the seventh, but as has been the problem, they were ultimately ineffective with runners on base.
Wood went seven innings, gave up six hits, a walk, three earned runs, and struck out six. This loss is his seventh straight decision.
Along with DeJesus’ solo shot, Bryan LaHair hit his first home run since Independence Day.The Cubs stranded 11 runners and for the third consecutive game reached double digits in strikeouts. In the finale, they struck out 13 times.
Up next, the Cubs begin a homestand with three against the Rockies, followed by the Brewers and San Francisco Giants.
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