CHICAGO – Over the last week, there has been plenty to feel good about when it comes to the Cubs, which may not have been the case for the first month of the season.
Even with Jake Arrieta, Nico Hoerner, and Ian Happ and on Injured List, the team swept the reigning World Series champion Dodgers, then took the first two games against the Pirates. But the sweep of a homestand was doomed by a sub-par, hard luck start that saddled the team with their first loss this.
Soft contact hits, an injury on a fly ball, then another error contributed to a four-run Pittsburgh first inning against Kyle Hendrick from which the Cubs wouldn’t recover. They’d get the lead down to one in the ninth but couldn’t finish the rally in a 6-5 loss to the Pirates.
It’s a dud ending to what’s been a promising series for David Ross’ team, who took 5-of-6 games and evened their record at 17-17.
Unlike his start earlier in the series against the Dodgers, when he allowed just one run in a seven-inning victory of, trouble began for Hendricks early. He gave up a pair of singles then walked a batter before Jacob Stallings’ groundout brough home a run.
Then came another bad moment as a fly ball hit to center field by Wilmer Difo fell in after Jake Marisnick went to the ground with a hamstring injury. Two runs scored on that play and then got another when shortstop Ildemaro Vargas’ throw to first on a hit by Troy Stokes Jr. was wild.
After the Cubs got a run back in the second, Hendricks had more trouble in the third, giving up an RBI triple to Difo then watched him score on after a ball to Matt Duffy went off his glove.
The Cubs got a run back in the fourth but didn’t stage a major rally to the ninth when an RBI single by Joc Pederson then a two-run double by Vargas cut the lead to 6-5. But that’s as close as it would get as pinch hitter Javier Baez, who was held out of the lineup due to back tightness, grounded out to end the game.