CHICAGO -- The frustration continues to mount in Chicago, as the Cubs lost, 13-3 to the Phillies on Monday night at Wrigley Field, extending their losing streak to 10 games since Zach Davies and three relievers combined to no-hit the Dodgers on June 24.
“I don't think, at any point in any season, any player thinks that you can go on a 10-game losing streak,” said Davies, who was back on the mound for Monday's series opener. “But those things happen. Teams go on 20-plus-game winning streaks. Hopefully that's in our future, but as of right now, we're trying to get that first one.”
The struggles over the skid -- which is the Cubs’ longest since a Dale Sveum-managed team dropped 12 in a row from May 15-27, 2012 -- brought with them frustrations that boiled over in the sixth inning.
Home-plate umpire Nic Lentz called ball four on a Rex Brothers pitch near the bottom of the zone to Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper. Cubs manager David Ross walked onto the field to share his thoughts with Lentz, and first-base umpire Joe West ended up getting in between them as Ross was ejected from the game.
Ross said he felt that Lentz’s strike zone was bigger throughout the game, and that Harper complaining about a called strike on the previous pitch -- a borderline offering on the outside part of the plate -- “swayed” Lentz into the ball-four call.
To his credit, Ross admitted he was wrong after being told that the pitch was below the strike zone. However, similar to a called strike three on an inside curveball to Patrick Wisdom with bases loaded in the first, it was another close call that didn’t go the Cubs’ way. And in that moment, Ross felt the need to give a piece of his mind.
“I think they're trying to call every strike they possibly can, and sometimes they don't go your way,” Ross said. “We've got to overcome that adversity, no doubt. But from my standpoint, I need to fight and hold [umpires] as accountable as I possibly can. … It's a fine line. I don't want to be the manager that complains about every strike when you're in the middle of a stretch that we're in right now. That's counterproductive, as well, but that one in particular felt like, in the moment, that he kind of swayed with a high-profile player and a borderline pitch.”
Despite getting go-ahead hits from both Jake Marisnick (solo home run in the second inning) and Javier Báez (RBI double in the third), the Cubs couldn’t stay in front for long. After each of Marisnick and Báez’s hits, Davies allowed Philadelphia to tie things up with solo shots in the ensuing inning.
That followed a theme that has emerged of late, with the Cubs losing their fifth consecutive game after scoring first. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that marks the first time since June 23-27, 1998, that Chicago scored first but went on to lose in five straight games.
And as it turns out, that ball-four call on Harper would end up being a big one. Two pitches after the walk, Harper scored on a double to the left-field corner by Andrew McCutchen, which put the Phillies ahead for good. McCutchen then came around to score on a Rhys Hoskins single before the Phils added on with a six-run eighth inning.
“We're obviously trying. It's not fun, let me tell you that, but we're trying,” Báez said. “Everybody's mad. I'm mad about it, but the only thing I can do is come back tomorrow and try it again.”
The Cubs -- who dropped below .500 and 8 1/2 games out of first place in the National League Central with the loss -- had hoped that things would begin to turn around when the club returned to Wrigley Field, where it owned a 26-13 record coming into Monday. Instead, the road woes came home with a team still looking for answers.