Cubs Bullpen Surrenders Five in 9th in Loss to D’Backs

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Jeff Samardzija supplied the answer Wednesday in a quick, terse tone before the question was finished.

“I didn’t see it,” Samardzija replied when asked about Martin Prado’s grounder that that caromed off the second base bag and resulted in two runs.

Unfortunately for Samardzija, the Cubs and a chilled crowd that included many stars from the team’s past, Prado’s goofy hit typified the Cubs’ fortunes in the ninth inning as the Diamondbacks rallied for five runs to seize a 7-5 victory that spoiled the 100-year anniversary party at Wrigley Field.

From Pedro Strop’s control problems to Starlin Castro’s error to Prado’s fluky hit, longtime Cubs fans have been accustomed to witnessing this type of late meltdown during the last century-plus at Wrigley.

It’s up to the current Cubs to rid themselves of these stumbling blocks that surface whenever the club shows the slightest sign of momentum.

“We have to get over it because we have to play (Thursday) again,” manager Rick Renteria said after the Cubs blew a three-run lead in the ninth and missed a chance to win three consecutive games for the first time since July 26-28.

The flaws were noticeable and symbolize the struggles of a 7-13 team. Strop’s leadoff walk to Chris Owings to start the ninth led to the bullpen’s fourth blown save. Castro’s fielding error on speedy Tony Campana’s grounder prevented the Cubs from getting the first out of the inning and resurrected lingering questions about his fielding consistency.

“I tried to be too quick on that play,” Castro said. “That’s what happened. It’s kind of impossible to make a double play with that kind of guy (Campana) running. The only thing I (had) to do is make sure we get one (out).”

Miguel Montero’s game-tying hit off James Russell deprived Samardzija of another well-deserved victory. It also had to test the patience of the Cubs’ No. 1 starter as he had limited the Diamondbacks to two runs in 71/3 innings but came out winless for his 11th consecutive start.

The five runs of support for Samardzija were one more than he had in his first four starts this season combined. Two of the bullpen’s blown saves have cost him victories.

“No,” Samardzija replied when asked if he was frustrated. “I’m doing my job. You know when you’re pitching every fifth day. You come out and regardless of the last time out, you have a short memory as a pitcher.

“When you start carrying it over from start to start, that’s when it will snowball on you. You just keep doing your work and competing for your team and hoping for the best.”

At the rate the Cubs are playing, the best for Samardzija is likely to occur with a playoff contender around the July 31 trade deadline.

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