CHICAGO – All season, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said that if the Cubs were going to have a “run” in them, it would be with the offense.
The Cubs got their “run” Friday, one run to be specific, in a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
The National League Central’s first-place Cardinals moved to 20 games over .500 at 87-67. They lead the third-place Cubs (82-72) by five games.
The loss was the Cubs’ fourth in a row, a stretch in which they’ve scored a grand total of nine runs.
Let’s have a reality check about all that giddiness over scoring 47 runs last weekend. Those three games were against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the last-place team in the NL Central.
And that “season-defining” 12-11 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 21 now seems an eternity ago.
“It’s just one of those things,” right fielder Nicholas Castellanos said. “I don’t think there’s really a rhyme or reason for it. I don’t know how many hits we got, but we had more than they did. That’s baseball.”
The Cubs outhit the Cardinals, 9-4, and watched as the Cardinals went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base.
Also wasted was a serviceable spot start from Alec Mills, who pitched
42/3 innings of two-hit ball, leaving with a 1-0 lead.
“He was outstanding,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He gave us everything we needed, pitched really that well. We’ve been talking about the whole time, he demonstrated what he’s made out of. And the bullpen was spectacular. Three walks and a weak ground ball up the middle, and we lose. Offensively, we actually moved the ball a lot today. Bases-loaded double play hurt us, a great bunt by (Kyle) Schwarber and another double play hurt us.”
Mills, who has been up-and-down from Triple-A Iowa with the Cubs this season, confounded the Cardinals with a curveball that floated up to the plate at 67 to 69 mph.
“It’s one of those things where I always feel like I can throw it for a strike at any point,” he said. “A couple times I wish I had it back to throw it for a strike. It’s one of those things where it’s something I can lean on when I need it. So it’s nice.
The Cubs got their run in the second on a fielding error. The Cardinals scored twice in the sixth after reliever David Phelps walked the first two batters of the inning. Steve Cishek walked Matt Carpenter before giving up a two-run single to Yadier Molina.
“We’re running out of games is the big issue right now,” Phelps said. “Ones like that, where Millsie gives us an incredible start, [I] come out there in the sixth and throw eight out of nine balls. It’s unacceptable.”
The Cubs don’t have many tomorrows left, but Castellanos said it’s their only hope.
“Tomorrow, that’s all you’ve got to worry about,” he said. “Tomorrow. It’s baseball, man. I don’t really look for a reason why to figure it out. Just come ready to play tomorrow.”