Rapid Reaction: Pirates 8, Cubs 4
CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Cubs' loss to the Pirates on Wednesday.
How it happened: Starlin Castro gave the Cubs an early 1-0 lead with a solo home run in the first, but things went downhill from there. After scoring two in the third, including a solo home run from rookie Starling Marte, the Pirates poured it on with five in the eighth, all off the normally reliable relief pitcher Shawn Camp, the big blow coming on a three-run blast off the bat of catcher Michael McKenry. Cubs starting pitcher Travis Wood kept it close by allowing only two runs in his five innings of work. But he battled throughout those frames, tossing 98 pitches while allowing three hits, three walks and a costly run-scoring balk. The Cubs showed some fight late, scoring three runs in the final frame -- including a two run homer by Welington Castillo -- but their deficit was too much to overcome.
What it means: The Cubs are now 0-2 with their reshaped, post-trade-deadline roster. Wins and losses probably aren't at the forefront of most fans' minds, so the focus should be on the development of players like Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Jeff Samardzija and if Theo Epstein and company will be able to move large-contract players like Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol prior to the waiver deadline on Aug. 31.
Outside the box: After showing some promise in June and early July, Travis Wood has gone winless in his last four starts with a 10.45 ERA. His unraveling has primarily been due to the long ball, he has given up 10 home runs in the 20 2/3 innings during that stretch. On the topic of home runs, Castro's bomb was his 11th of the season, setting a new career high with two months to go.
Up next: The Cubs enjoy an off-day in Los Angeles on Thursday before facing the Dodgers on Friday night. Jeff Samardzija (7-8, 4.19) takes on Chad Billingsley (6-9, 3.89) as the Cubs and Dodgers begin a three-game set on Friday at 9:10 at Dodger Stadium.