Chicago Cubs RHP Carlos Villanueva was looking to rebound in Phoenix from a poor start on July 20, but instead surrendered seven runs over four innings in a 3-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.
The Cubs starter got off on the wrong foot against the D-backs, throwing 37 pitches in the first inning. He escaped allowing just one run. He also gave up a run in the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Wil Nieves and Cliff Pennington). Aaron Hill took Villanueva deep in the fifth. Villanueva got through only five innings. A taxed bullpen had to once again pitch beyond its limits. (In this four-game series, relievers pitched 12 2/3 innings.) Welington Castillo drove in the Cubs’ sole run with an RBI double in the seventh. Nate Schierholtz hit what appeared to be a leadoff home run in the ninth, but it was ruled fan interference and a ground-rule double.
What it means: The Cubs split the series with Arizona. Villanueva lost his seventh game of the season, against two victories. Everything around the team seemed up in the air with the Alfonso Soriano, whose trade to the New York Yankees remains in limbo. Cubs manager Dale Sveum was unsure which player would replace Soriano on the roster, should Major League Baseball approve Soriano's trade. Jeff Samardzija, Darwin Barney and James Russell would have the longest consecutive tenures in Chicago with Soriano moving on.
Outside of the box: The deal with New York has to be approved by league commissioner Bud Selig. Any salary exchange more than $1 million must get his blessing. Soriano’s no-trade waiver had to be signed and notarized by MLB before the deal could be announced. Junior Lake has cooled off, settling for one hit on Thursday evening. Lake is the first player to get a hit in seven straight games in a Cubs debut since Jerome Walton in 1989.
Up next: The Cubs conclude the last leg of their 10-game road trip with three games at the San Francisco Giants starting Friday at 9:15 p.m. CT, with RHP Edwin Jackson (6-11, 5.03) vs. RHP Matt Cain (6-6, 5.00).