Saturday, June 22, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Astros 4, Cubs 3
By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs fell to the Houston Astros 4-3 on Saturday in the middle game of a three-game series at Wrigley Field.
How it happened: The Astros’ Ronny Cedeno used a well-placed squeeze bunt in the ninth inning to push across the winning run. The Cubs had their chances to take the lead in the eighth inning, but Alfonso Soriano was picked off second base and Darwin Barney was denied a two-out walk with the bases loaded on a pitch that appeared to be out of the strike zone. He ultimately popped up. Nate Schierholtz hit a home run and Travis Wood pitched well aside from the three-run home run hit by J.D. Martinez in the sixth inning.
What it means: The Cubs continue to struggle with close games as they are now 15-23 in games decided by two runs or less. The trend of tight games had been changing, until the weekend. The Cubs saw 43 of their first 49 games decided by four runs or less, but 10 of the last 23, before Saturday, had been decided by four runs or more.
Outside the box: It only took Schierholtz 61 games in a Cubs uniform to set a personal best for home runs in a season. With his fifth-inning blast into the party deck in right field, Schierholtz pushed his home-run total to 10. His previous high was nine in 2011 with the San Francisco Giants. He also became the first Cubs player to reach double digits in home runs this season.
Off beat: Starlin Castro can look challenged on defense and other times he can look as if nothing can get past him. On Saturday he accomplished both just an inning apart. After charging in and booting a ground ball in the third inning, Castro atoned for his error in the fourth. On Carlos Corporan's ground ball up the middle, Castro dove to his left, got to his feet and plucked the ball from his glove all in one motion. He fired to first base in time and couldn’t help the smile that crept across his face as he walked off the field.
Up next: The Cubs will send right-hander Jeff Samardzija (4-7, 3.35 ERA) to the mound Sunday in the finale of a three-game series and brief three-game homestand. The Astros will counter with right-hander Jordan Lyles (4-1, 3.22) in the 1:20 p.m. start from Wrigley Field.