Cubs lose to D-backs for fifth straight loss
Allan Henry - USA Today Sports

Cubs lose to D-backs for fifth straight loss

by - Senior Writer -

PHOENIX - The Chicago Cubs (78-72) had to scratch and claw from the abyss to put themselves in a position to be buyers at the deadline with the hopes of making the playoffs. After being one of the hottest teams for the better part of two months, the Cubs have hit what some like to call the September Swoon, and it couldn't come at a worse time.

With their stranglehold on the No. 2 Wild Card being taken from four games down to just .5 in a matter of 10 days, the Cubs were on the verge of being pumped out of the playoff picture if they couldn't find a way to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks (79-72) at Chase Field on Sunday night. If the Cubs are going to miss the postseason this year, they can look back at the Diamondbacks as one of the many reasons why they finished the season with a 1-6 record against Arizona, including a 6-2 loss on Sunday to give them a three-game sweep of the Cubs.

For whatever reason, the Diamondbacks had the Cubs number this season, and it irks fans when you look at the pitchers who beat the Cubs this season. Ryne Nelson is one of them, as he not only beat the Cubs in Wrigley once, but gave the Diamondbacks 3 1/3 innings on Sunday, allowing two runs.

He faced off against Jordan Wicks, who picked a bad time to have the worst start of his young MLB career as the left-hander labored through 4 1/3, allowing three runs. All three of the runs came in the first inning as the Diamondbacks started quickly and put the Cubs in a hole that would be too big to climb out of. Walking Ketel Marte to lead things off certainly didn't help, but neither did a Corbin Carroll single and Tommy Pham fielder's choice as the Diamondbacks loaded the bases with no outs.

Put in a challenging situation, Wicks managed to get Christian Walker to ground into a force-out, but a run came across to score as Arizona took the lead for good, 1-0. That was followed by the suddenly scorching hot Lourdes Gurriel Jr., whose double made things 2-0, while Emmanuel Rivera's sacrifice fly put the Cubs in a 3-0 hole after one. After squandering a leadoff double by Ian Happ in the first, Dansby Swanson returned the favor with his leadoff double to begin the second with the Cubs up, while the Mike Tauchman single made things 3-1.

The game's turning point seemed to be in the bottom of the second into the third when Wicks surrendered a two-out double to Marte ahead of the Carroll walk, only to escape without further damage. Once the Cubs came back to bat in the third, they had the pressure on immediately as Happ picked up his second hit in as many at-bats to start things off, with Nico Hoerner and Christopher Morel adding a pair of walks to load the bases with no outs.

With Nelson struggling with his command, all it would take was one big hit to get things going, but Cody Bellinger swung at the first pitch to ground into a double play, killing what could have been a huge inning. A run scored on the play to make things 3-2, but that was the last offense for the Cubs as they went another series without being able to do much against this Diamondbacks staff.

Both teams kept the pressure on in the fourth inning by putting a pair of runners on base, but neither could capitalize as the score remained 3-2. With the Cubs still trailing 3-2 in the sixth and Jose Cuas on the mound, Marte came through again as his two-run shot extended the Diamondbacks lead to 5-2. Should the Cubs miss the postseason this year, you may look back at his homer as the final nail in the Cubs coffin.

With the Cubs offense remaining lifeless at the plate, the Diamondbacks added on against what suddenly looks like a fatigued Cubs pen. With Daniel Palencia allowing a one-out single to Gurriel in the seventh, David Ross went back to his pen and called on Luke Little to take the mound. One batter into his outing and the lead crew to 6-2 as Jace Peterson ripped an RBI double to bring home another run as the Cubs continued searching for answers.

That was the game's final run for either side as the Cubs went six up and six down the next two innings to end the game and will now head home on a five-game losing streak.

With the loss, Chicago has not only lost their hold on the No. 2 Wild Card spot, but they are also on the outside looking in as Arizona and Miami passed them up on Sunday. In an effort to jump-start the offense, Happ was moved back into the leadoff role for the first time since 2021 and picked up three hits to lead the way for the Cubs offense.

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