Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

9th inning rally falls short in 6-5 Cubs loss

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The Cubs might be the poster children of why some numbers don't always add up in baseball:
--Their starting pitchers are among the better rotations in the National League, with a collective 3.49 ERA. They also are fourth in quality starts with 17--and the ERA in those games is 2.08.
But their 23 errors are among the most in baseball, with only Washington having more (24). The mistakes have led to 14 unearned runs, fifth highest in the majors.
--The offense generated 35 home runs in April, the third highest in franchise history after hitting only nine last April.
But the team is hitting only .178 with runners in scoring position.
And though they are playing close games--24 of their 29 have been decided by three runs of less--they have lost 15 of them.
The latest was Friday's 6-5 loss to Cincinnati, a game that was close because of a ninth inning rally that fell short.
``We didn't do much I the first eight innings, leaving guys on and then they added runs--once without a hit [in the seventh,]'' manager Dale Sveum said. ``That haunts you at the end of a game.''
Especially in a game where the Cubs pushed Reds ace closer Aroldis Chapman to the brink, scoring three with four singles and two walks before Reds manager Dusty Baker had to call on J.J. Hoover (first save) to get the last out, fanning Darwin Barney.
Chapman had allowed only one run all season--a solo home run to Miami's Justin Ruggiano.
``It was being patient,'' said Starlin Castro, one of nine who batted in the ninth. ``He throws hard but he doesn't throw every pitch for a strike.''
The rally helped the team ``feel better'' after Thursday's mistake-marred loss, Castro said. ``That was tough to lose because we didn't play well. That's why everyone was ready in the ninth.''
Sveum credited the team for having ``great at-bats'' against Chapman. ``They made adjustments against his velocity. Hopefully we learn from that when they're facing a guy who throws 90 instead of 94.''
The Cubs stranded nine runners through the first eight innings, leaving 12 for the game.
``It's a game of inches,'' said starter Carlos Villanueva (1-2), who trailed 1-0 in the first after the Reds stroked a single and double between three strikeouts. ``We've lost so many games by one run [seven]. We're missing that one hit.
``It's [about] making a better pitch and a better at-bat, and we have to do things to improve on that.''
The Cubs had 15 hits, including nine against starter Mike Leake (2-1). Anthony Rizzo (3-for-5), Alfonso Soriano (2-for-5), Nate Schierholtz (2-for-4) and Luis Valbuena (3-for-4) had multiple hits, though Soriano twice couldn't come through with the bases loaded.
Valbuena's three-hit game matched his career best.
His average is up to .253 with five homers and 13 RBI.
``I know Valbuena has `pull' power and opposite field power,'' Sveum said. ``We worked on a few things in spring training to get a little more `pull' power and think a little more about slugging. It's been paying off, and he's been doing a good job.
``That's a left-handed bat that has power for a smaller-stature guy,'' he said of Valbuena. ``You have to take advantage of that.''
The victory was only the fourth road win for the Reds, who are 12-4 at home. But it was their seventh straight victory at Wrigley Field, the Cubs also having lost seven straight home games to the Reds from June 25, 2002 to April 14, 2003.

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This page contains a single entry by Toni Ginnetti published on May 3, 2013 6:14 PM.

Stewart optioned to Class AAA; Shoulders, Jokisch named minor league players of month for April was the previous entry in this blog.

Sveum on Stewart: ``he's a Triple A player now'' is the next entry in this blog.

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