Cubs pitching continues strong, with left-hander Travis Wood getting his ninth straight quality start Sunday--a first since 1908 when Mordecai Brown had 11 straight.
But Cubs hitting continues to struggle with men in scoring position, something that cost Wood in a 4-3 loss to the New York Mets, giving them the weekend series and the Cubs a 3-3 home stand.
``We had opportunities to break it open,'' manager Dale Sveum said of the 1-for-10 performance with runners in scoring position. ``We got guys to third base. Our biggest goal going forward is getting those guys in from third.''
The only hit in the category came from Wood, who belted his first homer of the season in the fifth with catcher Welington Castillo at second after a double. It was the second homer by a Cubs starter--Jeff Samardzija has the other--and gave the starting five bragging rights to 11 RBI and five doubles so far.
``We have some good athletes who can swing the bat, and it's been a huge bonus,'' Sveum said. ``It's too bad we couldn't win it after Woody's homer there gave us a 2-0 lead.''
The Cubs had another homer from Ryan Sweeney (first) leading the sixth, two innings after he led the fourth with a double he tried to stretch to a triple, not successfully in the eyes of umpire Manny Gonzalez. Ex-Cub Marlon Byrd made the throw from right field, his second such assist in the series.
But there was a Cub at third in the first when lead off man David DeJesus doubled and advanced on Starlin Castro's fly out. Anthony Rizzo struck out for the first time in 39 at-bats and Nate Schierholtz grounded out.
DeJesus was at second again with one out in the fifth after Wood's homer, and Schierholtz was at third with no outs in the sixth after Sweeney's blast.
Neither got home.
``It's tough sometimes but everyone is trying to bring in the runs,'' said Castro, who hit two deep flies held in by the wind. ``It didn't happen today but we're trying to get the job done.''
Castillo and Wood credited Mets starter Dillon Gee, who stopped any rallies despite giving up eight hits, and the relief corps that followed him, including Greg Burke, Scott Rice (2-3) and Bobby Parnell (6th save). Those three didn't allow a hit in the last three innings.
``Today was one of those games where I was fortunate to get deep into the game, but Gee did a good job of keeping us off balance,'' Wood said. ``That's just good, clean baseball.''
The Mets didn't score against Wood until the sixth when Daniel Murphy beat out a potential double play. He went to second on a Wood wild pitch before Justin Turner struck out, then scored on David Wright's single.
The Mets scored again with two outs in the seventh when Ruben Tejada blooped a single over the infield before Juan Lagares hit his first major league homer on a 2-2 pitch.
``I wish I could have that one pitch back,'' Wood said. ``That's baseball. He was able to foul off some pitches. As soon as it left my hand, I didn't feel good about it.''
The winning run was another solo homer from Murphy off Kyuji Fujikawa (1-1) leading the eighth.
``We've been pitching great, including Woody today,'' Castillo said. ``We just need to make some pitches when we need to. You have to make plays and you have to make pitches.
``Everyone is trying to do his part and everyone tries their best with men on base. Sometimes [the opposition] makes their pitch, and that's baseball.''