- Created on 22 May 2013
- Created on 21 May 2013
- Created on 09 May 2013
There were the four double plays, one in every inning from the fifth to the eighth. Mix in a wild pitch, an error and a shaky outing from a usually reliable reliever, and that was enough.
At the plate and in the field, the Chicago Cubs just plain sputtered when they had to make a play on Wednesday.
Anthony Rizzo had three hits and Nate Schierholtz doubled home a pair of runs, but the Cubs blew a late one-run lead in a 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
"We just can't seem to shut anybody down in the sixth, seventh inning," manager Dale Sveum said. "We're getting two strikes on people, we just can't make a pitch when we have to."
Carlos Beltran had three hits and two RBIs as St. Louis won for the seventh time in eight games and improved to a major league-best 14-7 on the road. The Cardinals went 5-1 on a six-game swing to Milwaukee and Chicago, with the lone loss coming Tuesday in their first game of the season against the last-place Cubs.
"We've been an opportunistic team," manager Mike Matheny said. "We make the most of the opportunities that we're getting, even though they're not that many right now. And then they're resilient, they just keep coming back."
The Cardinals trailed 4-3 before Beltran singled in Matt Carpenter in the seventh, and Jon Jay drove in Yadier Molina with a tiebreaking single against Michael Bowden (1-2) in the eighth. Each rally featured a costly mistake by the Cubs, with Carpenter moving to third on an error by right fielder Nate Schierholtz and Molina advancing to second on a wild pitch.
"I'm just trying to keep it simple up there," said Jay, who also had a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning and hit .500 (10 for 20) with a homer and eight RBIs on the trip. "Trying to hit the ball hard, and I've been able to get some pitches over the plate that I've been able to drive."
Cody Ransom had two hits and Luis Valbuena scored two runs for Chicago, trying for its second three-game winning streak this season. Instead, the Cubs finished a 4-6 homestand.
Beltran's tying single on a 3-2 pitch was the first run allowed all season by left-hander James Russell, who began the year with 13 scoreless innings over 17 appearances.
"I feel like the 2-2 pitch to Beltran could have gone either way," Russell said. "But that's the way it goes sometimes. If I make a better pitch to Carpenter then I'm not in that situation."
The Cubs had 11 hits, but were hurt by all the double plays. The last one was particularly heartbreaking, with the potential tying run on third.
"We just couldn't get the ball up in the zone in those situations," Sveum said. "We were swinging at balls below the zone and that was the difference."
Four Cardinals relievers combined for 3 2-3 innings of two-hit ball after Jake Westbrook had his worst start this season. Seth Maness (2-0) got five outs to get the win and Edward Mujica worked the ninth for his ninth save in nine opportunities.
"They did a great job," Westbrook said. "They got into a little trouble, but then they found ways to get out of it."
The afternoon game on a picturesque spring day in Chicago attracted 26,354 to Wrigley Field, and fans were treated to a little bit of everything. There were a couple of adventures on the basepaths, a rarely seen 4-2-3 groundout and a bunch of singles — just three of 22 hits were for extra bases. Julio Borbon of the Cubs was called out for interference for running inside the baseline in the seventh.
Chicago used Schierholtz's two-run double, which caromed off the wall in foul territory and straight out into right field, and a well-placed grounder by Dioner Navarro to take a 4-2 lead in the fourth.
- Created on 10 May 2013
DEERFIELD, Ill. — It started with the flu, and turned into a hospital stay. There were terrible headaches and weakness. Just walking was a chore.
All at the worst time for Luol Deng and the Chicago Bulls.
The All-Star forward made an appearance at Chicago's practice facility on Thursday, but it was clear from his drawn appearance and measured tone that he might not be able to make it back in time to play in the Bulls' rugged postseason series against the Miami Heat.
Looking for reinforcements for its depleted roster, Chicago is going to have to wait a while for Deng.
"I don't know. I want to play, but I don't know what I can do," he said. "I just, I haven't done anything."
Deng joined his teammates for the film session covering Wednesday night's 115-78 drubbing by the Heat that evened the series heading into Game 3 in Chicago on Friday night. He also got on the court and took a few jumpers, but that was all he could handle.
"Still day to day. He's feeling a little bit better," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We'll see tomorrow."
While Chicago was taking stock of its injuries — Kirk Hinrich had a second MRI on his injured left calf, and Derrick Rose was the "same," according to Thibodeau — Miami was bracing for the first game of the series at the United Center. It's the Heat's first trip to Chicago since a 101-97 loss on March 27 snapped their 27-game winning streak.
"We know that they call it the 'Madhouse on Madison' for a reason," said Miami guard Dwyane Wade, a Chicago-area native. "The fans are very loud. At the end of the day, once that settles down, it's the game of basketball and you have to execute your game plan. It's going to be the little things that wins games for your team."
The Heat did everything right in Game 2, running away from the Bulls after a surprising 93-86 loss in the series opener on Monday night. A 62-20 run was more than enough to wipe away the residue from Miami's first playoff loss, and MVP LeBron James had only three points in the tidal wave — a scary statistic for Chicago, and there's more.
The Game 2 blowout was the 41st time that an NBA team won a playoff game by 35 or more points. In the previous 40 occasions, the team on top of the blowout went on to win the series 36 times.
It's a good omen for Miami, but James knows firsthand how it can turn around in a hurry. He was playing for Cleveland when the Cavaliers lost 108-72 to Washington in a 2008 playoff game and went on to win the series.
"It's just one game," he said. "Even though you got dominated the game before and you didn't do things right, it's still one game. You don't get two wins if you win by over 30 or over 40. You only get one game. They're back in their home building, where they're very good and we have to be ready for it."
It looks as if the Bulls will be without Deng, Hinrich and Rose once again. Thibodeau said the team was awaiting the results of the latest MRI for Hinrich, who hasn't played since Game 4 of Chicago's first-round playoff series against Brooklyn on April 27. Rose hasn't played all year, but no one has ruled out what would be an emotional return for the 2011 NBA MVP.
Even with the depleted roster, the Bulls managed to win Game 7 on the road against the Nets and then steal home-court advantage against Miami. Bouncing back against the Heat could be a matter of just keeping their cool after they were whistled for six of the nine technical fouls during the emotional Game 2, leading to ejections for Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.
"We got to do better. We got to do a much better job of that," Thibodeau said. "Can't get sidetracked. We know how it will be called. We're not going to get calls. We just got to be tough, mentally, physically, emotionally. We got to be a lot stronger."
Asked what he meant about not getting the calls, Thibodeau responded: "It's just the way it is, you know. We didn't allow that to impact us in Game 1 and I thought we allowed it to impact us in Game 2."
Deng watched Game 2 on TV, and said he thought the Bulls let it get away from them. He said the trip to the practice facility was his first time out of the house since a "scary" couple of days.
Deng became sick during the Brooklyn series, missing practice on May 1 and Game 6 the next day. He felt so bad that he went to the hospital, where he had a spinal tap to rule out meningitis.
"After that, I just didn't respond well," he said. "Started having severe headaches. Was struggling to walk. Started feeling really weak. Started throwing up ... I couldn't control my body really, and because of that I lost a lot of weight."
Doctors recommended a blood patch to help heal the damage from the spinal tap, and Deng had to stay in the hospital for more than a day until his white blood cell count came down enough to allow him to have the second procedure. He dropped about 15 pounds, but is feeling a little better now and said he's proud of how the team has played without him.
"Guys are going out there and just playing together," he said. "Just seeing them do it together is really the main thing. ... Watching it obviously is a lot harder when you're not out there, but just seeing your teammates play that hard and fighting together."
AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.
- Created on 15 May 2013
Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum has his choice for best starter right now in the major leagues: Travis Wood.
Wood pitched impressively into the seventh inning to outduel Lance Lynn, Nate Schierholtz hit a two-run homer and the Cubs snapped the St. Louis Cardinals' six-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory.
Wood (3-2) allowed one run and five hits while striking out eight in 6 2-3 innings for his first win since April 27 at Miami. He has worked at least six innings in each of his seven starts this season.
"He's got it," Sveum said. "He's figured it out."
Wood earned his first win at Wrigley Field since July 1 when he beat Houston. Over his previous 12 starts at Wrigley, he was 0-7 with a 4.58 ERA.
Sveum added: Wood is "the best starter in baseball, pretty much" through the first part of the season.
Responded Wood: "That's a strong statement."
He had to be pretty close to beat Lynn and the Cardinals.
St. Louis' six-game winning streak was its longest since an eight-game run in July 2010, and Lynn was trying to be the National League's first six-game winner.
"That's a really good lineup," Wood said. "I was fortunate enough to be able to locate pitches and have good command tonight and keep them off balance and end up having a good game."
Carlos Marmol relieved Wood with two outs in the seventh and pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings. In the eighth he allowed a single to Yadier Molina and walked Jon Jay before getting out of the inning by picking Molina off between second and third.
Molina stole second earlier in the inning, and Marmol stepped off the mound with the Cardinals catcher on second.
"I'm glad he made that mistake," said Marmol, who's had consecutive scoreless outings since allowing three runs in a loss to Cincinnati on Saturday.
Kevin Gregg pitched a scoreless ninth for his fifth save in five opportunities since signing with Chicago on April 15.
The Cubs have won two straight since dropping four in a row.
Lynn, meanwhile, pitched seven innings and gave up two runs and four hits while striking out eight. Last year, Lynn (5-1) went 6-0 to start the season, earning his sixth victory on May 7.
He might have matched that feat if not for Schierholtz's fourth-inning home run.
"You look back at it, you gave up two runs on one swing," Lynn said. "I got behind him and made him hit it and he put a good swing on it so you tip your cap there, but for the most part I threw the ball well. That was only one I wanted back."
The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead with no outs in the second inning when Allen Craig hit a 2-2 fastball into the left field bleachers for his second home run of the year. Craig, who hit 22 last season, has two in the Cardinals' last three games.
That was it for the St. Louis offense, which had scored 29 runs in its last four games.
"(Wood) made good pitches when he had to," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We couldn't capitalize on the mistakes."
There weren't too many mistakes from Wood. He left with the lead May 2 against San Diego, but lost after he and the bullpen couldn't hold a 2-0 lead in a 4-2 defeat.
Nothing like that happened Tuesday against Lynn and the Cardinals
"(Lynn is) a good pitcher. I mean, that whole club over there is outstanding," Wood said. "They've got good players, solid players, good staff and everything. It's a confidence booster for us to come in and take Game 1 from them."