Results tagged ‘ Carlos Villanueva ’

5/8 Cardinals 5, Cubs 4

Another day, another close game for the Cubs.

“Another one-run game — it [stinks],” Carlos Villanueva said. “We’re close, right there.”

Carlos Beltran hit a pair of RBI singles and Jon Jay drove in two runs, including a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth, to lift the Cardinals to a 5-4 victory on Wednesday over the Cubs, who hit into four double plays, and split the two-game series.

The Cubs now have had 28 of their 34 games decided by three runs or fewer, and the team is 10-18 in those games. Chicago is 5-8 in one-run games.

“It kind of speaks well for our team,” James Russell said of the tight games. “We don’t give up and we’re always in the game. If breaks fall our way, then we win a lot more games then we have right now.”

The loss wasted the fifth quality start by Villanueva. This was the 21st quality start by a Cubs pitcher, and they have compiled a 2.01 ERA but have won only eight of the games. Only the Cardinals (24) and Phillies (22) have more quality starts, and St. Louis has 15 wins and Philadelphia has 11.

“[Villanueva] did a nice job and got out of some jams and made the pitches when he had to,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “He got the outs when he had to and left it up to [Russell] who has been the most reliable guy for two years to get a left-hander out.”

Russell ran into trouble in the seventh. St. Louis trailed 4-3 when Matt Carpenter doubled off Russell and reached third on an error by Nate Schierholtz, who had trouble picking up Carpenter’s ball. Then Beltran delivered the game-tying RBI single.

“If I make a better pitch to Carpenter, I’m not in that situation,” Russell said. “I hung a curveball to him and he hit my mistake and that’s what good hitters do. He made me pay for it.”

Beltran’s hit snapped Russell’s season-opening scoreless streak at 13 innings, spanning 17 games.

“For some reason, the lefties they have over there, they hit left-handers pretty well,” Russell said of the Cardinals. “I’ve just got to find some different things to do against them.

“You’ll have those days when broken bat hits fall in and you’ll have days when guys will smoke balls and they’re hit right at somebody,” he said. “Right now, I was on the other end of it, but it is what it is.”

In the St. Louis eighth against Michael Bowden, Yadier Molina singled and moved up on a wild pitch before scoring on Jay’s single to center. Chicago now has lost 10 games in which it had a lead, tied with the Diamondbacks for the most in the National League.

The Cubs seem to have their starting pitching figured out and have settled on Kevin Gregg as the closer. It’s those middle innings that are a little tricky.

“We just can’t seem to shut anybody down in that sixth, seventh inning right now,” Sveum said. “We’re getting two strikes on people. We just can’t make a pitch when we have to.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/8 Cubs lineup

The Cubs close their quick two-game series against the Cardinals on Wednesday, sending Carlos Villanueva to the mound against Jake Westbrook. Villanueva will be making his eventh start. In his last outing, he gave up four runs on a season-high seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. He is 5-3 with a 3.10 ERA in 25 games (seven starts) against the Cardinals. Alfonso Soriano and Darwin Barney both get a day off. Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus CF
Castro SS
Valbuena 2B
Rizzo 1B
Schierholtz RF
Sweeney LF
Navarro C
Ransom 3B
Villanueva P

5/5 Extra bases

* The Cubs begin a stretch in which they host three teams in a three-day span at Wrigley Field for the first time in nearly 53 years. Sunday, they wrap up a three-game series against the Reds, then host the Rangers on Monday, and face the Cardinals on Tuesday. The Cubs last hosted three teams in three days at Wrigley Field, Aug. 21-23, 1960, when they played a doubleheader vs. the Giants on Aug. 21, then hosted the Reds on Aug. 22 before starting a series vs. Pittsburgh, Aug. 23.

* In 18 quality starts this season, Cubs pitchers have recorded a 2.05 ERA (28 ER/122.2 IP) yet have just six victories. Only three NL teams have more quality starts than the Cubs: the Cardinals (22), the Reds (20) and the Phillies (20). Cubs starting pitchers rank third in the NL with 169 strikeouts. The Cardinals lead with 171 strikeouts.

* Jeff Samardzija’s 52 strikeouts are tied for second-most in the NL with the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw. The Pirates’ A.J. Burnett leads with 57. Samardzija has a 3.09 ERA in seven starts, yet is 1-4. He and Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 2.85 in 6 GS) are two of five starting pitchers with a sub-3.09 ERA and one or no wins on the season.

– Carrie Muskat

5/5 Pitching probables

The Cubs play a makeup game Monday night against the Rangers, then play host to the Cardinals for two games Tuesday and Wednesday. Here are the pitching matchups:

Monday vs. Rangers: RHP Scott Feldman (2-3, 3.34) vs. RHP Nick Tepesch (2-2, 3.54)

Tuesday vs. Cardinals: LHP Travis Wood (2-2, 2.50) vs. RHP Lance Lynn (5-0, 2.75)

Wednesday vs. Cardinals: RHP Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 2.85) vs. RHP Jake Westbrook (2-1, 1.07)

5/3 Reds 6, Cubs 5

The Cubs rebounded from Thursday’s tough loss but it took until the ninth inning Friday to do so. The Cubs rallied for three runs in the ninth against Aroldis Chapman but came up short, 6-5, against the Reds. Manager Dale Sveum wasn’t sure what to expect after a heartbreaking 4-2 loss to the Padres on Thursday when Travis Wood threw seven shutout innings, but was hurt by two defensive lapses in the eighth.

“That was one of the tougher ones, if not the toughest loss we’ve had this year because it was kind of in our control,” Sveum said of Thursday’s game.

Chapman was 6-for-6 in save opportunities, but when he took over in the ninth with a 6-2 lead, it wasn’t a save situation. The Cubs loaded the bases on pinch-hit singles by Dioner Navarro and Dave Sappelt as well another base hit by Starlin Castro. Chapman struck out Anthony Rizzo and got Alfonso Soriano to fly out. Pinch-hitter Scott Hairston then drew a walk to force in a run, and Welington Castillo smacked a two-run single to center to close to 6-5. Pinch-hitter Cody Ransom walked to load the bases and chase Chapman, and J.J. Hoover struck out Darwin Barney to end the game.

“Those were some great at-bats today off the best closer in the game,” Sveum said of the ninth. “Hopefully, we can learn from that, too. Instead of waiting until a guy throws 98 [mph], we need to make those adjustments when a guy is throwing 94.”

What were the Cubs doing against Chapman?

“Be more patient,” Castro said. “The guy can throw strikes. If you take some pitches, he has to throw every pitch for a strike.”

“Sometimes you get hit,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s not a control thing. Sometimes you have to give hitters credit. They did some good hitting against Chapman.”

The Cubs did collect a season high 15 hits but also stranded 12.

“Everybody tried to do something because it was a tough game to lose yesterday,” Castro said. “Everybody was ready in the ninth inning.”

It was just too late.

“We’ve lost so many games by one run,” Carlos Villanueva said. “Really good teams, teams that are in the playoffs every year, the record is the other way and in one-run games, you come out on top. For us, we have to get it done when it counts. If it’s making a better pitch, having a better approach at the dish, we have to do whatever it takes to improve on that.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/3 Cubs lineup

It’s cold and damp at Wrigley Field, but the Cubs will try to play the Reds Friday. Carlos Villanueva gets the start. Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus CF
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
Schierholtz RF
Castillo C
Valbuena 3B
Barney 2B
Villanueva P

5/2 Looking ahead

The Reds come to Wrigley Field for a three-game series, starting Friday. Here are the pitching matchups:

Friday: RHP Mike Leake (1-1, 4.34 ERA) vs. RHP Carlos Villanueva (1-1, 2.29 ERA)

Saturday: LHP Tony Cingrani (2-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. RHP Jeff Samardzija (1-4, 3.35 ERA)

Sunday: RHP Matt Latos (2-0, 1.83 ERA) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (0-4, 6.27 ERA)

4/23 Cubs 4, Reds 2, 10 innings

Carlos Villanueva delivered some much-needed innings, Darwin Barney provided the go-ahead run, and Kevin Gregg filled the closer’s role for the day as the Cubs held on long enough for a 4-2, 10-inning win Tuesday night over the Reds.

“It was nice, a good win,” manager Dale Sveum said. “It wasn’t easy.”

Barney hit a tie-breaking home run with one out in the 10th off Manny Parra for his first home run of the year, only his fourth hit in 27 at-bats this season. Dave Sappelt added a RBI single for insurance.

“I wouldn’t say I needed it, I think our team needed that win,” Barney said. “I think it was good for us. Obviously, it was nice to get an RBI. No one was in scoring position — I’m probably like 0-for-1,000 in those situations. It feels good to contribute on that side of the field for sure.”

It was a weird home run because Cincinnati’s Corky Miller got in the way.

“They called catcher’s interference on the play, so when I first hit, I thought I got it pretty good and when [umpire Marvin Hudson] called interference, you never know how much it’ll take off your bat speed,” Barney said.

Wait a second — catcher’s interference on his home run?

“Maybe I would’ve rolled it over if it didn’t hit the glove,” Barney said.

Chicago led, 2-1, going into the ninth, but the Reds forced extra innings for the second straight game. Shin-Soo Choo walked to start the ninth against Villanueva, who was pulled one out later after throwing 99 pitches. Carlos Marmol entered to face Joey Votto, who was 1-for-15 in his career against the right-hander with nine strikeouts. The odds were in Marmol’s favor, but Votto lined a RBI single past Barney to tie the game.

“Those numbers don’t lie,” Sveum said of Marmol’s stats vs. Votto. “He got the ground ball. I’m like, ‘Really? You can’t hit it at somebody? You’ve got to be kidding me.’ Marmol was all right.”

Villanueva was the hero. The Cubs were coming off a 13-inning game on Monday, and needed him to go at least five. He topped that by pitching into the ninth. It was his fourth straight quality start, but he has only one win to show for it. Marmol ended up with the win, and now leads the team in the category.

“He’s been outstanding,” Sveum said of Villanueva. “To stick with a game plan is the ultimate dream for a pitching coach and a manager to be able to say, ‘Just do this and you’ll get these guys out’ and he’s able to pull it off.”

Marmol wasn’t able to do that, which is why he lost his closer’s job after one week. Gregg, released by the Dodgers on April 3, picked up his first save since 2011.

“For me, it’s about going in there and helping the ballclub now in whatever role it can be,” Gregg said. “Today was an awesome feeling. I really enjoy that. That’s a lot of weight on your shoulders when you’re out there making pitches in that situation. I love that pressure, I love what comes with it, of what comes from being able to carry home a victory for the team.”

Sixteen of the Cubs’ first 19 games have been decided by three runs or less, the first time that’s happened in franchise history since 1991. The tight games make it tough on everyone.

“You can’t dwell too much on the close games,” Villanueva said. “It’ll crush your spirits sometimes. You have to look at the positives, and the positives are that we are close. We’re not getting killed, it’s just one-, two-run games. Hopefully, this will turn it around and we start winning some ballgames now.”

– Carrie Muskat

4/23 Cubs lineup

Cody Ransom gets his first start of the season on Tuesday when the Cubs face the Reds and lefty Tony Cingrani at Great American Ball Park. Here’s the lineup:

Sappelt CF
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
Castillo C
Hairston RF
Ransom 3B
Barney 2B
Villanueva P

4/23 Extra bases

* David DeJesus’ leadoff home run Monday was the 13th of his career.

* Starlin Castro singled in the third to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, tops in the Major Leagues and matching his career high.

* Carlos Marmol threw two scoreless innings, and now has six straight scoreless outings dating to April 8.

* Luis Valbuena has hit safely in nine of his last 13 games.

* Cubs starting pitchers rank third in the NL with a 3.11 ERA, but they have a 3-10 record. The relievers rank 12th in the NL with a 4.86 ERA. The team is batting .147 with runners in scoring position.

* Matt Garza will make a Minor League rehab start Wednesday for Double-A Tennessee, weather permitting.

* Ian Stewart was 1-for-3 with two RBIs Monday for Triple-A Iowa, and now is 2-for-20 in six games.

* On Tuesday, Carlos Villanueva faces Tony Cingrani at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

– Carrie Muskat


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