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Quintana scuffles in shakiest start with Cubs

Maddon: Biggest difference from debut gem is lack of feel on curveball
Special to MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Jose Quintana looked like an ace in his Cubs debut on July 16. In his seven starts since, however, he's looked like the pitcher he was in the first half of 2017 for the White Sox.

Quintana allowed six runs on nine hits over five innings in Friday's 7-1 loss to the Phillies. Quintana's ERA is 5.31 in his past seven outings, and his ERA for the season is back up to 4.50 -- just one-hundredth of a point higher than it was when the White Sox traded him to the North Side of Chicago.

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PHILADELPHIA -- Jose Quintana looked like an ace in his Cubs debut on July 16. In his seven starts since, however, he's looked like the pitcher he was in the first half of 2017 for the White Sox.

Quintana allowed six runs on nine hits over five innings in Friday's 7-1 loss to the Phillies. Quintana's ERA is 5.31 in his past seven outings, and his ERA for the season is back up to 4.50 -- just one-hundredth of a point higher than it was when the White Sox traded him to the North Side of Chicago.

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"There's not a thing wrong with him physically," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "The stuff is good. I think it's more execution and location."

Quintana's tough night Friday started in the first inning, when he left a 2-1 fastball over the plate for red-hot rookie Rhys Hoskins. Hoskins sent the ball a projected 403 feet, according to Statcast™, putting the Phillies ahead 2-1.

Video: CHC@PHI: Hoskins hammers a two-run home run to left

The rest of the damage against Quintana came in the second inning. Again in a 2-1 count, Cesar Hernandez smoked a three-run triple to center field. Hernandez was driven in by Freddy Galvis, the next batter, to make it 6-1.

"I was spending too much time behind in counts," Quintana said. "That's the big thing. When that happens, everything can happen behind you."

It was the second time in a Cubs uniform Quintana has allowed six runs, and the nine hits he allowed were the most since the trade. The lefty did strike out seven, but he also issued four walks (one intentional).

Despite needing 53 pitches to get through two innings, Quintana made it through five on 88 pitches. But he still has not pitched into the seventh inning since his first Cubs start, when he tossed seven scoreless innings and struck out 12 Orioles.

The biggest difference since Quintana's gem is his curveball, according to Maddon.

"I just haven't seen the breaking ball being as relevant as it was in that first game," Maddon said. "I think he just needs to regain a touch or feel for that pitch, because otherwise they're just sitting fastball most of the time. Even if it's not a strike, it's just a pitch he's probably going to probably have to get into the mix a little more consistently to keep the other team from just sitting one pitch."

In the midst of a postseason push, Quintana will have more opportunities to iron out his kinks and replicate his Cubs opener. He knows that's why he was acquired by the defending World Series champs.

"Tonight was a battle for me," Quintana said. "We have a lot of games ahead, a lot of outings. I need to do what I do best: stay in and put my team in a good position. That's why I'm here."

Stephen Pianovich is a contributor to MLB.com based in Philadelphia.

Chicago Cubs, Jose Quintana