WASHINGTON –After a poor spring training and rough start in April, Chicago Cubs starter Scott Feldman had put together three straight wins going into Sunday’s game against the Nationals.
Feldman didn’t extend the streak Sunday, despite another fine outing, allowing one run over six innings in a 2-1 comeback win by the Cubs.
Trailing 1-0 in the eighth, the Cubs tied it in Starlin Castro’s two-out, RBI single off reliever Drew Storen, scoring pinch-runner Travis Wood from third.
The Cubs started the ninth with back-to-back singles off Rafael Soriano, and took the lead on a double steal and a wild throw to third by Kurt Suzuki, sending home Alfonso Soriano with the go-ahead run.
Suzuki’s throw hit the bat of Welington Castillo, who was standing still in the batters’ box, and deflected down the third base line.
“I just stood there and felt the ball hitting my bat, and the ball flew into the outfield,” Castillo said.
Suzuki claimed it was interference, but plate umpire John Tumpane didn’t call it.
Alfonso Soriano said it was a “good break” for the Cubs.
“That bullpen with Soriano, he’s a great pitcher,” he said. “But we got that break. We’ll take it.” It’s important we got that win.”
Kevin Gregg entered in the ninth and threw a perfect inning for his sixth save in six chances, giving James Russell (1-0) the win.
Feldman was shaky at the outset, giving up a double, a walk and a run-scoring double to Ryan Zimmerman in a 29-pitch first inning. But he stranded the bases loaded and settled down and pitched six strong innings.
Washington left-hander Gio Gonzalez retired the first 15 batters he faced through five innings before giving up an infield single to Dioner Navarro leading off the sixth.
The Cubs loaded the bases on two outs in the sixth, but Anthony Rizzo grounded to first to end the threat. Feldman was lifted after six, allowing one run on five hits with six strikeouts.
Gonzalez was pinch-hit for in the seventh, after allowing two hits with six strikeouts and throwing 86 pitches.
Manager Dale Sveum said it took Feldman a while this season to get a good feel for his cut fastball.
“Obviously, he’s throwing it wherever he wants right now,” Sveum said. “He’s got pitches going both ways right now. And if you can do that, it’s a huge way to be able to have a lot of success, and then have command of that kind of movement to both sides of the plate is huge.”
Feldman had allowed five earned runs over his last 27 2/3 inning in his last four starts, a 1.63 earned-run average. But with Matt Garza returning soon, he and Carlos Villanueva are the two candidates to move to the bullpen.
Garza threw 66 pitches on Saturday at Double-A Tennessee, but couldn’t last four innings because of his pitch count. He’ll have at least one more start, and Sveum said he needs to get to five or six innings. Garza will increase his pitch count to 85-90 pitches in his next start Thursday for Triple-A Iowa.
No matter who goes, it’ll be a difficult decision to move a reliable starter to the bullpen for Garza.
“It ain’t going to be easy,” Sveum said. “That’s part of (the job) sometimes when you have these decisions. … Nobody is obviously going to deserve it. Everyone is pitching perfectly fine.”
Edwin Jackson, who won his first game on Saturday, has struggled more than any starter, but he’s not being considered for the bullpen.