CHICAGO -- One poor inning defined Walker Lockett's spot start on Saturday against the Cubs, as the five runs he surrendered in the second accounted for all the offense Chicago needed.Lockett's final line wasn't great -- five runs allowed in five innings of work. But considering he was making just
CHICAGO -- One poor inning defined Walker Lockett's spot start on Saturday against the Cubs, as the five runs he surrendered in the second accounted for all the offense Chicago needed.
Lockett's final line wasn't great -- five runs allowed in five innings of work. But considering he was making just his second career Major League start, facing the National League's best offense and making a last-minute start after Joey Lucchesi came down with a stomach bug, the rookie right-hander more than held his own in the Padres' 5-4 loss at Wrigley Field.
"There's going to be a learning curve for a lot of these young guys pitching," manager Andy Green said. "To watch a guy, after the second inning -- when he gave up a five-spot in a tough place to pitch on a wind-blowing-out day -- settle in and give me three more innings and give us an opportunity to come back and win a baseball game, that's a positive."
The Padres fell behind early, when the Cubs plated five runs on six hits in the second inning off Lockett before San Diego even had a baserunner. The two big blows in that inning came when Kyle Schwarber clobbered a leadoff solo shot to right-center field and Anthony Rizzo launched a two-run homer to straightaway center, which traveled an estimated 444 feet, according to Statcast™.
"It just got a little fast out there," Lockett said of the second inning. "I wasn't making competitive pitches."
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Lockett's final three innings looked a whole lot different, though. He walked Ian Happ with one out in the third before striking out the next two batters. Rizzo roped a one-out double in the fourth, but was stranded. One more hit, a double by Schwarber, and an intentional walk were all the Cubs could muster off Lockett in the fifth.
"It felt like a real adjustment to me," Green said. "Instead of a fastball leaking back across the plate to the lefties, it was getting driven in much better -- which was setting up the offspeed [pitch] to play away better."
Then, the Padres started chipping away at the Cubs' lead. Travis Jankowski recorded their first hit on an infield single to lead off the fourth, then advanced to second when Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks fielded the ball and threw it into the seats. He scored on Manuel Margot's ground-rule double.
A sac fly, followed by an Austin Hedges solo home run -- his eighth -- brought San Diego within two runs. Hedges drove in the team's fourth run on a sac fly in the sixth. With the Padres trailing, 5-4, Matt Strahm relieved Lockett in the home-half of the inning.
Green easily could have let Lockett's shaky second inning dictate his decision in the top of the fifth, when he didn't pinch-hit for him with a runner on first and one out. The Padres were trailing by two at the time and gaining momentum following their three-run fourth.
But for a team that entered play on Saturday 18.5 games out in the National League West, the manager felt it was more valuable to give his 24-year-old pitcher one more inning.
"Had there been guys in scoring position at that time, we would've taken that opportunity to hit for him," Green said. "But I just thought he had built some positive momentum and wanted to see him carry out that positive momentum."
"I like to think I showed some competitiveness," Lockett said. "I was able to keep us in the ballgame, get to the fifth and try to save the bullpen a little bit."
When asked about the difficulties of pitching at Wrigley Field with the wind blowing out against a first-place team, Lockett smiled and simply answered, "Yup. I don't have much to say to that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Cubs were in a prime position to pull away from the Padres in the bottom of the seventh against left-hander Jose Castillo, when Chicago loaded the bases with nobody out. However, the 22-year-old southpaw buckled down. He got Albert Almora Jr. to pop out, struck out Willson Contreras and retired Victor Caratini to escape without allowing a run.
"[Castillo is] a guy that isn't afraid of anything," Green said. "That was a dicey situation he put himself into. To work out of it was impressive."
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
It took just 29 seconds for a replay review to overturn the call on the field in the bottom of the fifth. Originally called out trying to stretch a single to a double, Schwarber immediately pointed to the Cubs' dugout for a challenge. He clearly beat Hunter Renfroe's throw, upon review, and was ruled safe.
Left-hander Joey Lucchesi (5-6, 3.74 ERA) will start Sunday in the series finale vs. the Cubs at Wrigley Field after being scratched on Saturday due to a stomach bug. He allowed a career high five runs in his last outing. His breaking ball wasn't working and he relied too much on his fastball. He'll face veteran lefty Jonathan Lester, with first pitch set for 11:20 a.m. PT.
Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.