Cubs pecked by Cardinals in low-scoring affair


by - Senior Writer -
Right-hander Alec Mills was essentially the sole bright spot for the Cubs in their lackluster loss on Friday. (Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports)
Right-hander Alec Mills was essentially the sole bright spot for the Cubs in their lackluster loss on Friday. (Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports)

CHICAGO — Although they were riding high on a 5-game winning streak earlier in the week, the Chicago Cubs (82-72) saw their ill-timed losing streak extended to four games on Friday. Losing by one run for the third outing in a row, the Cubs also mustered just one measly run against the St. Louis Cardinals (87-67) in a contest that was riddled with horrible hitting when men were on base. In spite of going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, the Cardinals won by a final score of 2-1 at Wrigley Field in the second installment of the 4-game series.

The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the second inning and were blanked the rest of the way, as they went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left nine men stranded on base in the afternoon affair. With that being said, Cubs pitcher Alec Mills was superb in his spot start. The right-hander struck out six in a scoreless outing that spanned 4 2/3 innings. On somewhat short notice, Mills filled in for an injured Cole Hamels. Cubs manager Joe Maddon utilized a whopping eight different relievers in the loss, but, needless to say, the strategic pitching changes did not make up for the Cubs' ineffective offense.

Chicago hit into four double plays, two of which were of the inning-ending variety. The Cubs' leadoff hitter reached base in four of the nine innings, but Kyle Schwarber's leadoff double in the bottom of the second was the lone example of leadoff success that culminated in a run crossing the plate for the Cubs. Schwarber initially lingered in the batter's box to ogle what he seemingly assumed to be a home run in the fourth inning. Instead, the deep drive caromed off the right-field wall, and Schwarber counteracted his unwarranted showboating by hustling to second base for a standup double.

Schwarber eventually scored on a play that was ruled a fielding error by Cardinals second baseman Tommy Edman, who botched an attempt at corralling a chopper hit between first and second. Edman proceeded to smack a 1-out double that put runners on second and third in the top half of the following inning, but Mills was able to bear down and keep the Cardinals off the scoreboard. The bottom of the third ended with Schwarber grounding into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play with the bases loaded.

The Redbirds were able to take the lead not long after Cubs reliever David Phelps walked the first two batters of the sixth inning. Steve Cishek then replaced Phelps on the mound and walked a batter to load the bases, thus setting the stage for Yadier Molina to come through with a 2-run single to center field. Molina's go-ahead base knock proved to be the winning hit, with both teams failing to manufacture any runs the rest of the way.

Each of the first two Cubs batters of the bottom of the seventh singled but were ultimately deserted on the basepaths. St. Louis went on to load the bases with one out yet come up empty-handed in the top of the eighth. With a wily bunt single to the third-base side, Schwarber led off the bottom of the eighth by reaching base, but a first-pitch double-play groundout and a 3-pitch strikeout ensued. In the end, the battle of offensive inadequacy was claimed by the Cardinals, who increased their lead over the Cubs in the National League Central standings to five games.

St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs
Sep 20, 2019 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
St. Louis (87-67) 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 4 1
Chicago (82-72) 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 9 1
W: Ryan Helsley (2-0) L: David Phelps (2-1) S: Carlos Martinez (22)

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