The Chicago Cubs’ vaunted starters have looked strong in the team’s first series of the season against arch-rival St. Louis. The bullpen, on the other hand, hasn’t been quite as reliable.
The Cubs will send Greg Maddux to the mound and hope that their relievers can rebound from several shaky outings as they conclude their four-game series in St. Louis.
The Cubs lost 1-0 in 10 innings to the Cardinals on Sunday, falling to 1-2 in the series. Chicago starter Carlos Zambrano threw seven scoreless innings and struck out a career-high 12, but the effort was wasted when Kyle Farnsworth allowed a game-winning single after walking three batters in the 10th.
Sunday’s loss came two days after LaTroy Hawkins allowed the winning run to score on a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning—the fourth walk of the frame—in a 4-3 loss. Farnsworth was charged with Friday’s loss after walking Albert Pujols in the final inning.
“I guess he’s on one of those streaks where the plate looks like it’s moving,” manager Dusty Baker said of Farnsworth. “There were some near strikes but maybe he’s trying to be too fine, that’s all.”
Chicago’s three starters in the series—Kerry Wood on Friday, Matt Clement on Saturday and Zambrano—have allowed just five runs, four earned, in 22 innings of work. The bullpen has given up three earned runs and walked nine batters, two intentionally, in just four innings
Maddux will look to give the Cubs another strong start on Monday. The veteran right-hander, acquired by Chicago as a free agent during the offseason, was shaky in his first three starts this season, allowing 16 runs in 15 2-3 innings of work.
However, he has rebounded in his last two appearances. He earned his first win of the season on April 23, holding the New York Mets to just one earned runs and seven hits in seven innings.
On Wednesday, he gave up just two earned runs and six hits in six innings of the Cubs’ 4-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, but did not receive a decision.
“I never really got comfortable all night,” he said Wednesday, “but I got through it.”
Maddux, who won four straight Cy Young awards for the Atlanta Braves from 1992-95, is just 10 wins shy of his 300th. He has won at least 15 games in 15 straight seasons, tied with Cy Young for the longest such streak in baseball history.
Rolen and Tony Womack each doubled Sunday for the Cardinals, who have won three of their last four.
Albert Pujols went 0-for-3, snapping a seven-game hitting streak and was ejected from the game in the 10th inning after twice confronting plate umpire Angel Hernandez during his walk.