Matt Holliday hit a solo homer, an RBI double and a two-run tie-breaking single in the eighth to lead the Cardinals to a 9-6 come from behind victory over the Cubs, who blew a five-run lead Sunday.
Luis Valbuena had three hits and was a triple shy of the cycle, and Arismendy Alcantara added a solo home run for the Cubs, who did finish August with a 16-14 record, their first .500 or better record this calendar month since going 16-13 in August 2011. The last time the Cubs won 17 games in August was 2008 (20-8). But that wasn’t enough to make the Cubs players feel any better.
“There’s nothing positive about losing,” Carlos Villanueva said. “I know what needs to be addressed has already been addressed. We take nothing from this — we take a loss. We’re not happy about it. That’s up to us to do something about it.
“Our goal down the stretch is to break as many hearts as possible,” Villanueva said. “We play a lot of teams that are in contention now, and that’s how we’ll learn to win those games. We have a month left and we’ll see how we do.”
What needed to be addressed were some costly defensive lapses. With one out in the St. Louis fifth inning, center fielder Arismendy Alcantara couldn’t get his glove on Matt Carpenter’s fly ball, which resulted in an RBI double. Carpenter then scored one batter later on Holliday’s RBI double to pull within, 5-4.
Second baseman Javier Baez wasn’t able to get a glove on Molina’s ball with two outs in the seventh, and another run scored to tie the game at 6. Both Alcantara and Baez are rookies, both are new at their positions. But no excuses.
“Those are all tremendously helpful, useful experiences that they’ll be able to use,” Rick Renteria said. “We did everything we could to contain everything. Hey, today, they won out.”
* Travis Wood made his team-leading 28th start. The lefty did not get a decision and gave up four runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs hope first baseman Anthony Rizzo can return to the lineup Monday after missing five days because of tightness in his lower back. Rizzo has not played since he was pulled from last Tuesday’s game in Cincinnati when his back tightned up during a rain delay.
“He’s still day to day,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Sunday. “He came in [Saturday] and wanted to play. We have to make sure we’re prudent and playing this smart. We’ll give him another day and when we get back, we’ll see how he’s doing.”
* Edwin Jackson threw a light bullpen session on Saturday, and the Cubs are continuing to monitor the right-hander’s progress. Jackson has been on the disabled list since Aug. 21 with a right lat strain.
“We’ll continue to monitor and see how he’s doing,” Renteria said. “We haven’t set any hard dates. We’ll see how he progresses and continue to make adjustments.”
* The Cubs have yet to sort out their six-man rotation. Felix Doubront, who picked up the win in his first start with the Cubs on Saturday, will be inserted into the mix for the final month. The Cubs have an off day Thursday, and have yet to announce who will start a three-game series against the Pirates, which opens on Friday at Wrigley Field.
* The Cubs will likely add one relief pitcher on Monday when rosters expand, then call up a few more players once Triple-A Iowa’s season is over. Iowa failed to make the playoffs, and will play its last regular season game Monday against Oklahoma City.
* It isn’t often that a visiting player catches a ceremonial first pitch, but Cubs hitting coach Bill Mueller did just that on Sunday. Mueller was behind the plate to catch a pitch from retiring DeSmet high school coach Greg Vitello. Vitello was Mueller’s coach, and is retiring after 35 years as the baseball coach.
– Carrie Muskat
Travis Wood will start the Cubs series finale against the Cardinals Sunday at Busch Stadium. Here’s the lineup:
* According to Elias, Jorge Soler is the first player in Major League history, since the RBI was invented in 1920, to record an extra base hit and an RBI in each of his first four Major League games.
* Travis Wood is the third left-handed pitcher to start for the Cubs, closing the series Sunday against the Cardinals. It’s the first time they’ve had three consecutive left-handed starting pitchers since Rich Hill, Sean Marshall and Ted Lilly started Aug. 17-18 and August 20, 2007. The Cubs have not started four straight lefties since 1966 (Ken Holtzman, Dave Dowling, Curt Simmons and Dick Ellsworth).
* The Cubs are 16-13 heading into the last day of August, guaranteeing the first .500 or better record this calendar month since going 16-13 in August 2011. The Cubs have reached 17 wins in August just once in the last 20 years (20-8 in 2008).
* Kyle Hendricks leads all NL rookies with four wins and a 1.69 ERA this month. He is one of only three unbeaten NL starters at 4-0 this month (Jeff Locke and Jordan Zimmermann).
* Javier Baez has seven home runs in August, trailing only Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton (eight) for most in the NL this month.
* Hector Rondon has eight saves this month, tied for most in the NL.
* Starlin Castro’s .379 batting average is fourth-best in the NL.
* The Cubs pitching staff have given up four hits or less in seven games in August for the first time in a calendar month since May 2002. The Cubs have only twice in the last 100 years recorded eight games with allowing four hits or less within a calendar month: July 1976 and May 1952.
* Felix Doubront picked up the win in his first game with the Cubs. The lefty gave up one run on seven hits over seven innings in an efficient outing, throwing 89 pitches. He will continue to start as the Cubs go with a six-man rotation.
* Logan Watkins hit his first career home run, and Chris Valaika followed with his second of the season. It’s the eighth time the Cubs have hit back to back homers, and fifth time this month.
* Starlin Castro hit his 14th home run, which matches his personal high set in 2012. He’s batting .379 this month.
Jorge Soler is back in the Cubs lineup for the second game of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader against the Cardinals.
Anthony Rizzo was not expected to play this weekend against the Cardinals because of lingering tightness in his lower back. The Cubs had a day-night doubleheader Saturday and a day game Sunday in St. Louis. Rizzo has not played since he was pulled from Tuesday’s game in Cincinnati. His back tightned up that day during a 50-minute rain delay.
“I’m going to shut it down for today and tomorrow, too,” Rizzo said Saturday. “I hit, I ran. Hitting felt all right. I took two rounds, let it calm down, hit again. Then I ran for the ultimate [test]. Jogging [is a problem].
“It felt a lot better today than yesterday, so I think if we let it rest, it’ll be OK,” he said. “I don’t want to come back and then miss the rest of the season if I’m really bad. I can wait a couple days to play the rest of the season.”
So far, the diagnosis is nothing more than lower back tightness.
“I just locked up,” he said.
Rizzo has had minor back problems before but never for this long. Could he return for the Cubs’ home game Monday against the Brewers?
“It’s day to day,” Rizzo said. “I’ll be out today and tomorrow. If I wake up [Sunday], we’ll re-evaluate. But as far as baseball stuff, we’ll be done until Monday.”
Rizzo has yet to be in the same lineup as top prospect Jorge Soler, who hit two home runs Friday in the Cubs’ 7-2 win.
“This is an important month,” Rizzo said. “The better we do now, the better we go into the offseason, the better we go into Spring Training, and everyone else feels it.”
– Carrie Muskat
Felix Doubront makes his first start for the Cubs on Saturday, weather permitting. He’s the 12th different pitcher to start for the Cubs; they used nine last year. Anthony Rizzo is not in the lineup, and most likely will not play all weekend. He’s still bothered by tightness in his lower back. Here’s the lineup:
Jorge Soler has matched Javier Baez game for game, as both homered in their first game, and recorded multi-homer games in their third. They are the only Cubs in franchise history with three home runs in their first three games and join St. Louis’ Joe Cunningham (1954) as the only three big league players to do so since 1900. They are the only Cubs players in franchise history with a multi-homer game within their first three Major League games.
Elliot Soto hit a walk-off RBI single in the 11th to give Iowa a 5-4 victory over Oklahoma City and keep their playoff hopes alive. Chris Rusin started, and did not get a decision, giving up three runs over four innings. Junior Lake had two singles. Carlos Pimentel picked up the win in relief. Dallas Beeler gets the start Saturday.
Anthony Giansanti had two hits, including a home run, to help Tennessee beat Chattanooga, 6-5. Corey Black started, and gave up four earned runs over three innings. Christian Villanueva was 3-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs. C.J. Edwards gets the start Saturday.
Dan Vogelbach hit his 16th home run and Marco Hernandez hit his third in Daytona’s 8-4 win over Tampa. Tayler Scott gave up four runs over 5 2/3 innings. Vogelbach had two hits and two RBIs. He leads the team with 75 RBIs. Yao-Lin Wang gets the start Saturday.
Kane County won its 90th game of the season, a 6-1 rain-shortened win over Cedar Rapids. Jonathan Martinez gave up one run over 5 1/3 innings. Trey Martin and Jeimer Candelario each homered. Daury Torrez gets the start Saturday.
Boise lost, 2-1, to Everett. Danny Canela had two hits and an RBI. Erick Leal gaveup one run over 5 1/3 innings. James Norwood gets the start Saturday.
Eloy Jimenez tripled and drove in two runs in Mesa’s 7-6 loss to Arizona. Jose Paulino gave up two unearned runs over five innings.