KANSAS CITY -- Anthony Rizzo lined a leadoff single off the leg of Royals rookie starter Heath Fillmyer and the Cubs' Jose Quintana needed six pitches to get through the first inning. All positives for the Cubs, right? Then everything flipped.Quintana served up a two-run double to .182-hitting Andrew Butera
KANSAS CITY -- Anthony Rizzo lined a leadoff single off the leg of Royals rookie starter Heath Fillmyer and the Cubs' Jose Quintana needed six pitches to get through the first inning. All positives for the Cubs, right? Then everything flipped.
Quintana served up a two-run double to .182-hitting Andrew Butera in the second and a three-run homer to Raul Mondesi in the seventh in the Royals' 9-0 win Wednesday night. That's all Fillmyer needed. The right-hander, making his fifth big league start, stymied the Cubs, walking two and serving up three hits over seven innings for his first win.
Quintana zipped through the first inning but threw 31 pitches in the second, facing seven batters, including Butera with the bases loaded. Wednesday was the first loss by a Cubs starting pitcher this month. They had entered the game 5-0 with a 2.77 ERA in seven August games.
The Cubs haven't been able to get their offense and pitching in sync.
"We've got to mesh it up," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We hit a couple balls well but overall, not a really strong offensive performance by us."
The Royals do know Quintana well. He's now 3-10 in 25 career starts against them, his most losses against any team.
The left-hander felt good, but seemed to struggle with his command when he had to pitch out of the stretch.
"That was a frustrating inning for me," Quintana said of the Royals' second. "Two straight walks and I lost my command. After that, I felt really good. I gave up that huge homer in the seventh and I was frustrated with that."
Rizzo's single was No. 999 of his career and came on his 29th birthday. Some of the Cubs fans in the crowd at Kauffman Stadium serenaded the first baseman with "Happy Birthday" in the first.
Fortunately, Fillmyer was OK. According to Statcast™, Rizzo's ball had an exit velocity of 107.3 mph.
"I don't want him to be hurt -- it looked like it got him good," Rizzo said. "Maybe if it didn't hit him, he wouldn't have been as locked in as he was today."
The ball apparently hit Fillmyer on the heel, and the padding in his shoe protected him from serious injury.
"Give the kid credit," Maddon said. "He had to feel that for a bit. I'm sure there will be ice on it tonight. He pitched well. Not a strikeout guy but it looked like he was locating well. The balls in play were not hit hard. He had command of his pitches."
"I felt it," Fillmyer said. "It felt like a hockey puck off the boot. Coming up I played a lot of hockey, and that's exactly what it felt like. So I knew I had to keep my [composure] -- I had to walk it off a little bit. You probably saw me do a couple paces out there. Other than that, it just shook right off and felt pretty good after that."
Despite the loss, the Cubs are 10-5 against American League teams this season.
After an off-day, the Cubs have a tough stretch of games against the Nationals, Brewers and Pirates coming up.
"There's so much baseball left," Rizzo said. "We have to play good from here on out. We have a great series versus the Nationals and the Brewers, it doesn't mean we're going where we want to go, and if we lose, it doesn't mean we're not going where we want to go. It's a matter of staying focused, playing one game at a time and staying in that moment."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Doubling up: The Royals got out of a possible mess in the Cubs' fifth despite themselves. With one out, Kyle Schwarber walked and Ian Happ hit a grounder to Mondesi, who was shifted toward second base. Mondesi stepped on the bag for the force but his throw skipped past first baseman Lucas Duda. Happ tried to advance to second but was thrown out to end the inning.
Spiked: The Royals had runners at first and second with nobody out in the eighth when Jorge Bonifacio lined a double into the gap in left-center. Happ relayed the ball to shortstop Addison Russell, who spiked the ball in the grass. Two more runs scored. Brett Phillips then made it 8-0 with an RBI triple.
"The one error we made tonight, Addison was trying to hold up and the ball becomes an error," Maddon said.
HE SAID IT
"[The starters] are pitching well right now. We're doing a better job. I feel really bad with this outing. I feel how I threw the ball today is not the same as the score. If you see the numbers, it's not a good outing. Homers change the game, especially with runners on base. That was a huge moment for me and a bad moment today. I just have to keep going. We throw six innings, all three guys, and I think we're doing way better." -- Quintana
After an off-day Thursday, Kyle Hendricks (8-9, 4.07 ERA) will open the weekend series against the Nationals on Friday. Hendricks has struck out at least seven batters in each of his last three outings. He picked up the win in his last start against the Padres and felt good about his curveball, which catcher Willson Contreras keeps encouraging him to use. Hendricks is 4-6 with a 3.75 ERA at Wrigley Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.