PHOENIX -- The Cubs completed their own version of "Survivor," ending a marathon stretch of 30 days in which they've had a game scheduled by losing to the D-backs on Wednesday night.Robbie Ray struck out eight over six innings and combined with three other pitchers to hold the Cubs to
PHOENIX -- The Cubs completed their own version of "Survivor," ending a marathon stretch of 30 days in which they've had a game scheduled by losing to the D-backs on Wednesday night.
Robbie Ray struck out eight over six innings and combined with three other pitchers to hold the Cubs to one hit and Christian Walker smacked a three-run homer to lead the D-backs to a 9-0 victory at Chase Field. Addison Russell accounted for the only Chicago hit, a leadoff single in the third.
The Cubs head into a much-needed off-day with a 2 1/2-game lead in the National League Central over the Brewers, who beat the Reds, 7-0, in Milwaukee. Despite the loss, Chicago still has the best record in the NL at 89-63.
The D-backs ambushed Cole Hamels in the first to open a 4-0 lead, sparked by Walker's homer. Chris Owings belted a two-run shot in the sixth off Hamels and Jeff Mathis hit another, off Carl Webster in the eighth.
"Unfortunately, I wasn't able to locate because anytime you have teams coming out swinging the bats early, if you locate, you can still get outs," Hamels said. "They got key hits and all at the right time."
After giving up three earned runs over his first six starts with the Cubs, Hamels now has been charged with 14 earned runs over 24 innings in his last four outings.
The Cubs went 18-11 during the extended stretch and finally get a breather on Thursday with a day off in Chicago. Cubs manager Joe Maddon wasn't sure whether he'd try to squeeze in a bike ride on the lakefront. He definitely won't be at Wrigley Field.
"[To go] 18-11 -- sign me up. We'd take that any day of the week," Maddon said. "I'm proud of our guys."
"It's a lot of time to be at the ballpark," Hamels said of the month, which included lengthy rain delays in Washington. "I think this [off-day] will be much-needed and guys will take it real easy tomorrow and enjoy probably the last off-day we'll have for a long time.
"You have to learn to like each other a lot and try to keep your edge. I think we've been able to do that. After tomorrow, we should be ready to come back at it."
When this odyssey began on Aug. 21, Daniel Murphy had just been acquired from the Nationals, Kristopher Bryant was on the disabled list and Yu Darvish had just been shut down for the season.
"It's difficult -- we're talking baseball, but it's difficult with the travel, the time of the games, the sitting in locker rooms waiting [rain delays] out," Maddon said. "The thing people have to understand, it's more difficult to sit in a locker during a rain delay than it is to actually play it. It just wears you out.
"I'm really pleased and happy and proud with how the guys have handled this. They're not going to know what to do with themselves tomorrow. It's something that, in the future, we can look back at and maybe gain some strength from if we end up with a bad stretch like this again."
If you're looking for positives, the Cubs bullpen is well rested. Key relievers Steve Cishek, Jesse Chavez, Justin Wilson and others got a breather during the three-game series.
As much as Russell likes his teammates, he is looking forward to time away.
"It's been a lot of baseball, a lot of delayed baseball, guys grinding it out," Russell said. "A lot of coming to the clubhouse and just hanging around. These guys are great, but a little time away won't hurt."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Reserves don't hold back: Arizona manager Torey Lovullo started several backups to give regulars a breather heading into their next series against the Rockies, and it paid off early. The D-backs had two on and one out in the first when .171-hitter Walker launched his third home run to open a 3-0 lead. Patrick Kivlehan followed with the first of two triples that he would hit in the game and then scored one out later on Owings' single.
"When you're able to get a big home run -- three-run home runs and two-run home runs definitely hurt and make it tough to come back," Hamels said. "Any time you do that in the first inning, it'll make for a really tough game, because that's a serious spot to try to come back from, especially when you have Robbie Ray over there. He's been pitching really well lately."
Said Lovullo: "I don't think Cole Hamels had a chance to prepare. He had been thinking for the past four days about [Paul] Goldschmidt and [David] Peralta and [A.J.] Pollock and all of a sudden he's getting some new names and he had to rush through their whole program. They did their job. They got up and socked them in the nose. That's what I was looking for."
HE SAID IT
"Guys don't give in. Any time you're getting in tough stretches when you're facing tough opponents, big-time pitchers, you can kind of see guys semi take days off or just go through the motions. Guys don't do that here. They definitely want to win and they're not just satisfied with one hit. They want to go 3-for-3 or 3-for-4. You're able to see that. From the pitching standpoint, it's great to see that guys want to go deep in the ballgame. That says something about the character they have and the expectation to win. You have to take that into the postseason. In order to win, you have to play the best teams at the hottest times. Hitters can be incredibly difficult and you have to either beat them on their home turf or in big moments." -- Hamels, on what he learned about his new Cubs teammates during the 30-day stretch
After a much-needed off-day, the Cubs open their last "road" regular-season series Friday just eight miles from Wrigley Field against the White Sox. Jose Quintana's next win will be his career-high 14th, and he has the chance to do so against his former team. The left-hander, who was traded by the White Sox to the Cubs in July 2017, is coming off a loss against the Reds in which he struck out seven over five innings. He is 22-27 with a 3.59 ERA in 84 games (82 starts) at Guaranteed Rate Field. The White Sox will counter with right-hander Reynaldo Lopez. First pitch on the South Side is scheduled for at 3:10 p.m. CT.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.