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Sunday, May 19, 2013
One mistake proves costly for Wood, Cubs

By Sahadev Sharma
Special to ESPNChicago.com

Travis Wood
Cubs starting pitcher Travis Wood had his ninth straight quality start on Sunday against the Mets.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs starter Travis Wood felt he only made one mistake on Sunday. Unfortunately for him, it cost his team the game.

With two out and a man on in the seventh inning, New York Mets rookie Juan Lagares drove a two-strike changeup into the left field stands off Wood to tie the game at three. It was Lagares’ first career home run.

“As soon as it left the hand, I didn’t like it,” Wood said. “I was hoping he would pop it up or something. But he didn’t. He put a good swing on it, hit it out of the park to tie the ball game.”

Daniel Murphy would add a solo shot in the seventh off Kyuji Fujikawa to give the Mets the winning run as they went on to defeat the Cubs 4-3.

Wood caught some bad luck in the previous inning when he gave up a run on a bloop single to David Wright.

“That’s baseball,” Wood said. “He was able to fight off a pretty good pitch, I thought, and he put it where we weren’t. Just grinding at-bats.”

Outside of the changeup Wood missed high to Lagares -- which manager Dale Sveum said was his ‘worst pitch of the game’ -- Wood was once again brilliant. He tossed his ninth consecutive quality start, going seven innings and allowing three runs on five hits, while striking out three and walking two. The last Cubs starter to begin a season with at least nine straight quality starts was Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown in 1908.

“I think that I’ve always had that (mindset) regardless of how things are going,” Wood said of his quality-start streak. “That’s gotta be the goal, that way you’re getting deep into ball games and helping your team win.”

Wood started off the Cubs offense with a two-run homer in the fifth. The ball cleared the left field bleachers, landing on Waveland Ave. It was the second consecutive game that a Cubs starter delivered a big RBI hit. Scott Feldman knocked in a pair with a double on Saturday.

“It’s been a huge bonus,” Sveum said of the production from the pitcher’s spot in the lineup. “It’s too bad we didn’t win that game today because of Woody’s home run. That was two of our runs today. We had a chance to break that game open in different situations and didn’t take advantage.”

Castro swinging away: Prior to the game, Sveum discussed Starlin Castro's overall development and in particular his aggressive approach at the plate. On Sunday, Castro went 0-for-4 (extending his hitless streak to 10 at-bats), twice grounding out weakly when ahead in the count.

“That’s what we got right now in Castro swinging the bat,” Sveum said. “He’s gonna swing the bat, he’s only walked five times on the season. So we know what we’re going to get.”

However, Sveum did say that in his other two at-bats, Castro made good contact. Sveum pointed out that Castro twice drove the ball to deep center and did his job by advancing a runner from second to third both times.

“Sometimes I gotta (take) my pitches, you know, don’t swing at bad pitches,” Castro said. “But today I feel pretty good. I hit the ball twice hard and I feel real good. I think if the wind’s not blowing in, I think those balls are going to be pretty good. That’s the only thing I can do, hit the ball hard. It happens, it happens. If not, I don’t have control of that.”

Bowden designated: The Cubs announced after Sunday’s game that reliever Michael Bowden will be designated for assignment to make room for Matt Garza. Garza will be activated from the disabled list on Tuesday, making his first start of the season against the Pittsburgh Pirates that evening.

Bowden has 3.78 ERA on the season with seven strikeouts and five walks in 16 2/3 innings.