Thursday, May 17, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Phillies 8, Cubs 7
By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs' brief two-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies ended in a sweep for the visitors after a 8-7 loss on Thursday.
How it happened: The Cubs mounted a four-run rally in the ninth, but came up a run short. Welington Castillo hit a three-run double and later scored on a hit from Darwin Barney before Reed Johnson grounded out to end the game. Chris Volstad's winless streak continued as he lasted just two innings while giving up four runs to the Phillies. Volstad fell to 0-6 this season with a 7.46 ERA and the Cubs have lost all eight of his starts. Casey Coleman, called up from Triple-A Iowa over the weekend, took over in the third inning and fared much better, giving up a run over four innings. The Cubs started quickly with a run three batters into the game on Starlin Castro's sacrifice fly, but were ultimately kept off balance by Phillies starter Roy Halladay. Castro and Castillo had home runs in the defeat.
What it means: Manager Dale Sveum has given Volstad as many chances as possible, but the right-hander has yet to deliver. After a run of starts where one bad inning ruined his entire day, Volstad was off his game on Thursday from the outset, loading the bases in each of the first two innings. Coleman’s relief outing appeared good enough to earn him a start in five days at Houston, if Sveum is finally ready to make a change.
Outside the box: The numbers on Volstad aren’t pretty. It is the first time since 2006 that the Cubs have lost a pitcher’s first eight starts. They lost Angel Guzman's first 10 starts that season. Volstad also joins Guzman as the last Cubs starter to open a season 0-6. Juan Cruz was 0-7 in 2002. Volstad is now 0-11 over his last 19 appearances going back to last season. The last pitcher to lose more than 10 straight decisions was Brian Matusz, who lost 12 straight decisions before picking up a win in April.
Off beat: On Wednesday night, Bryan LaHair had luck on his side when he reached base after Juan Pierre dropped his lazy fly ball in left field. He had no such luck Thursday, when Pierre made a diving catch in shallow left field on one ball and his hard smash up the middle hit off Halladay’s leg toward shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who threw him out at first base. In the seventh inning he was robbed again by Pierre, who made a diving catch a ball in the left-field corner.
Up next: The Cubs will send right-hander Jeff Samardzija (4-1, 2.89 ERA) to the mound in the opener of a three-game series against their crosstown rivals. The White Sox will counter with Philip Humber (1-2, 5.77) in the 1:20 p.m. start from Wrigley Field.