- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs were unable to go toe-to-toe with the Cardinals in a 9-6 defeat Friday to start a three-game series.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Cubs starter Travis Wood was knocked around, tying a Cubs record by giving up five home runs. The Cubs had a decent day on offense as well, they just weren’t nearly as prolific as the Cardinals. Anthony Rizzo continued to hit well, delivering a home run and an RBI single for the second consecutive game.
WHAT IT MEANS: Wood is having the wildest roller coaster ride of the season, going from disappointing to impressive and back to disappointing again. Plenty has been made of his awful spring and eventual emergence in the rotation. Now, though, he has given up 22 earned runs over his last three outings, which adds up to a 12.64 ERA over that stretch. He had given up 21 earned runs over his first 10 starts.
OUTSIDE THE BOX: The struggles of third baseman Luis Valbuena continued, although he did end the day on a positive. The left-handed hitting third baseman was in the midst of an 0-for-19 drought when he delivered a ninth-inning single. His hitless run extended to the previous homestand. After previously providing a jolt to a stagnant Cubs offense, Valbuena saw his batting average dip to .200 before his last at-bat. Cubs third basemen started the day with a .211 overall batting average, dead last in the National League with only the White Sox (.190) and A’s (.186) worse in all of baseball.
OFF BEAT: Despite the score, Ron Santo Day was still a perfect 10. There were plenty of Santo reminders around the ballpark during the first home game since Santo was inducted into the Hall of Fame last weekend. Santo’s No. 10 was mowed into the center field grass, blue No. 10 flags flew atop the Wrigley Field roof, while before the game and during the seventh-inning stretch, the batter on the scoreboard was shown as No. 10. Santo’s grandson threw out the first pitch and his family sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."
UP NEXT: The Cubs will send right-hander Jeff Samardzija (7-8, 4.25 ERA) to the mound against the Cardinals on Saturday. St. Louis will counter with right-hander Joe Kelly (1-3, 2.78) in the 12:05 p.m. start from Wrigley Field.