CHICAGO -- The Cubs need to get their starting pitching in order.Paul Goldschmidt, Steven Souza Jr. and Jake Lamb each drove in a run in a three-run fifth to back Clay Buchholz and lift the D-backs to a 5-1 victory on Tuesday night over the Cubs, who had another abbreviated
CHICAGO -- The Cubs need to get their starting pitching in order.
Paul Goldschmidt, Steven Souza Jr. and Jake Lamb each drove in a run in a three-run fifth to back Clay Buchholz and lift the D-backs to a 5-1 victory on Tuesday night over the Cubs, who had another abbreviated outing from their starter. This time, it was Kyle Hendricks.
"It's the mantra we don't want to have repeat itself," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the short outings.
Jason Heyward hit a solo homer for the Cubs, who were without Kristopher Bryant, bothered by a nagging shoulder injury that forced him to go on the disabled list in late June. Maddon also tried to take advantage of Anthony Rizzo's hot streak at the top of the lineup and inserted the pitcher in the No. 8 spot, hoping the No. 9 batter, Victor Caratini, could get on base.
"This is a short-term experiment for right now," Maddon said.
But the problem for the Cubs has been the rotation's inability to go deep in games. Since the All-Star break, the Cubs have two quality starts in seven games. They've had to use five position players to pitch in two games during a five-game span.
"A five-inning stint from the starter is making it very difficult to piece it together," Maddon said. "We've done it for a long period of time, but we need to get that straightened out."
The Cubs have made it clear they're in the market for more pitching as the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, but the focus has been more on relievers than the rotation, even though they're missing Yu Darvish, who signed a six-year deal in February.
Hendricks has gone at least five innings in 19 of his 21 starts. But in his 11 starts since May 30, he's gone at least six innings twice.
"We're talking about it with the whole staff in here -- everybody, even the guys working behind the scenes -- and trying to figure out if we're falling into tendencies, patterns and what to do to get bad contact," Hendricks said. "We have to do better in the 1-1 count. Just getting outs on three pitches -- that has to be the focus. It's frustrating and a slower process than we hoped."
The D-backs made Hendricks work. He needed 26 pitches to get through the first inning and had thrown 87 after four. With one out in the fifth, Jonathan Jay tripled into the gap in right-center on an 0-2 count and scored on Goldschmidt's single. One out later, Souza hit an RBI double, and he tallied on Lamb's single for a 3-0 D-backs lead.
Hendricks struck out eight but threw 106 pitches over five innings. The eight K's matched the season high he set on July 9 against the Giants.
"I thought my stuff was good today, but it was the same story -- I have to put guys away quicker, get quicker outs," Hendricks said. "It's a little frustrating. I felt I made one bad pitch, the 0-2 to Jon Jay was terrible. Otherwise, it was pretty good pitches they got some hits on. My stuff is there. My sinker feels good. I have to stick to what I'm doing."
Through the first 100 games, the Cubs (58-42) have 42 games in which a starter has gone at least six innings. They had 68 such starts through 100 games in 2016, and 51 at this point last year.
The Cubs had a chance to mount a comeback in the seventh. Back-to-back two-out singles by Benjamin Zobrist and Caratini chased Buchholz. Then Rizzo loaded the bases with a walk against Andrew Chafin, but Archie Bradley struck out Albert Almora Jr. to end the inning.
"That's a really good team," Buchholz said of the Cubs. "I think everyone around the game has seen what they've done day in and day out. They've got some really good players, guys where if you miss with any one pitch in any one at-bat, it can go over the fence. Pitchers got to make their pitches, and when you get them swinging at balls out of the zone, that's better for us."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bleacher creatures: With one out in the Chicago sixth, Heyward connected on a 2-0 fastball from Buchholz for his seventh home run and first of the second half. The opposite-field shot landed in the first row of the left-field bleachers. Heyward came into the game with two RBIs in six games since the break.
PROTECTING THEIR TURF
In the seventh, Souza tried to stretch a single into a double but was thrown out at second by Almora. He slid hard into Javier Baez's left knee, and the second baseman was lifted in a double-switch in the eighth inning. Steve Cishek hit Souza with a pitch in the ninth, and Rizzo and Souza exchanged words at first base before peace was restored.
"If you see the replay, it's not a dirty slide," said Baez, whose left knee was wrapped. "I did give him his lane. I didn't see where he was, but he does have a lane to slide. I mean, he's not breaking up a double play there. Like I said, it's not a dirty slide, but he got me pretty good. I had to come out of the game. Obviously, I never like to come out of the game, but it wasn't my decision."
Souza and Cishek were teammates on the Rays, and Rizzo said he didn't think Cishek was retaliating because of the Baez play.
"I don't think we hit him on purpose there," Rizzo said. "[Souza] just thought we did. … He slid hard into Javy. We don't think it's dirty at all. It's a hard slide, but obviously, I'm going to stick up for my teammates at all times. I don't think we really have the rep of drilling guys on purpose. It is what it is."
Souza said Rizzo didn't like the slide but made it clear he wasn't trying to hurt Baez.
"I love the way Javy Baez plays," Souza said. "I love him as a player, and there was zero intent in my heart to try to take him out. If he's injured, that would hurt me, and I would never want to do something like that. I just had nowhere to go. The throw took him up the line and he dropped his knee, so it was either I slide headfirst into his leg or I slide into his arm. Something was going to happen with the collision, and unfortunately it ended like that. ... I just hope he's OK."
The Cubs have lost consecutive games for the first time since a five-game skid, June 21-25 against the Reds and Dodgers.
Jonathan Lester will get the start in the third game of this four-game series, taking on lefty Robbie Ray and the D-backs at 1:20 p.m. CT on Wednesday. Lester opened the second half with an abbreviated start, lasting three-plus innings and giving up a season-high eight earned runs against the Cardinals. He said he wasn't surprised to struggle because he's had some mechanical issues. Lester is 5-2 with a 3.12 ERA at Wrigley Field.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.