Sampson is a decent young pitcher for the Cubs (Kamil Krzaczynski - USA Today Sports)
Sampson is a decent young pitcher for the Cubs (Kamil Krzaczynski - USA Today Sports)

Cubs drop five straight with loss to Orioles


by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - It has been a long time since the Baltimore Orioles (44-44) made the trek to Wrigley Field, but Chicago Cubs (34-53) should get used to it. With a new balanced schedule introduced next season, the Cubs will face the Orioles every season while alternating venues each year. Looking at the position these teams are in right now, you have one team trending up and the other trending backward.

Unfortunately, the one trending backward is the Cubs, as they have fallen to a season-low in terms of games below .500 with a tough homestand on the horizon. When it comes to the Orioles, they were in a similar position to the Cubs last season, but now seem to be putting things together at the right time. Entering Tuesday, this team was riding an eight-game winning streak, and after defeating the Cubs 4-2, that streak has reached nine. It is the Orioles longest winning streak since 1999 and has gotten them right back in the playoff picture.

In terms of the pitching, you had an intriguing matchup as Adrian Sampson went for the Cubs against the savvy veteran Jordan Lyles. While it is unclear what the Cubs plan for Sampson is beyond this season, he continues to make a case to remain a starter long term as he gave the Cubs 5 1/3 innings of three-run ball as his ERA sits at 3.33.

A solid outing nonetheless, but Lyles was much better as he not only gave the Orioles length at seven innings, but allowed just two runs to pick up the win. Both of the runs Lyles allowed came in the early going before shutting out the Cubs across his final five innings.

Making his first at-bat since being named an all-star for the first time was Ian Happ, who quickly gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead with his ninth homer. Happ is having his best season as a Cub by far, but has now found his name popping up in trade rumors. Not only did that homer give the Cubs the lead, but after the Nico Hoerner double in the second, Alfonso Rivas doubled that lead as his single made things 2-0.

Unfortunately for the Cubs offense, that would be it in terms of runs as their offense stalled out at the worst time. However, when you look at how good Sampson has been, two runs may be enough to hold up, at least for most of the game. Led by a Cedric Mullins one-out single in the third, it was the Orioles starting to gain momentum as they pulled within 2-1 on the Anthony Santander single.

The next inning saw the Orioles take the lead for good as Adley Rutschmen worked a one-out walk ahead of the long Ramon Urias homer to make things 3-2. Take that hit away, and Sampson was solid as he went the remainder of his outing without allowing another run.

Throughout the game, the Cubs had some chances to make Lyles pay, but the veteran knows how to pitch and worked out of jams to extend his length in the game. With Brandon Hughes on to close out the sixth with Sampson putting him in a jam, Hughes induced a huge double play to keep things close and the Cubs coming to bat.

Just like the Orioles in the top half of the sixth, the Cubs would have something going as the one-out Seiya Suzuki single, and Patrick Wisdom walk had runners on the corners with just one out. That was until a line-drive double play saw the Cubs run out of an inning, as that was their last excellent scoring chance of the evening.

Looking to tack on some insurance runs late, Jorge Mateo wasted no time doing that in the seventh inning as his homer capped off the scoring and extended the lead to 4-2. Two innings later saw things get real dicey as Matt Swarmer was having a tough go of things in the ninth.

Not only did he walk Rougned Odor to start the inning, but after inducing a double play would allow a Mullins single and two more walks to load the bases. Swarmer would escape without damage by striking out Ryan Mountcastle, but the Cubs still needed to rally late. Instead, it was the all-star Jorge Lopez retiring the Cubs in order to record his 17th save as the Orioles keep on winning 4-2.

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