After a couple of late game rallies in the past two games, the Cubs offense decided to get to work a little earlier on Thursday afternoon. It was Nate Schierholtz that got things started again, leading off the second inning with a solid single to right. He would eventually score to get the Cubs on the board, but the real damage was done in the third frame.
Starlin Castro sparked the offense with a one out, hustle double by chipping a blooper in shallow right field. Anthony Rizzo instantly cashed in with a two run homer to left center field. All three of the Cub first baseman’s homers have come on the first pitch. But the home team did not stop there, even with two outs. Schierholtz lined another single in front of Hunter Pence and stole second to get himself into scoring position. The Cubs right fielder would make his way to third when Welington Castillo smoked a single right at the Giants short stop and was driven in by Brent Lillibridge, who got his first hit of the 2013 season with a floating single to right field.
Even with Scott Feldman pitching, Cubs fans had to be feeling pretty good with a 5-0 lead and the offense clicking. The Cubs starting pitcher had survived through three innings despite an error by himself and two walks and hits allowed each. Feldman allowed a lead off single to start the top of the fourth, but proceeded to get the next two outs and be on his way to escaping another inning.
Unfortunately that is when all the trouble began. Nick Noonan reached on a single to put runners at the corners and then Castro let down his pitcher by letting a routine chopper off the bat of the Giants pitcher get past him, gifting the visiting team their first run. Former Cub Angel Pagan further capitalized on the error by following up with an infield single the crept just past a lunging Rizzo. Kung Fu Panda would double one batter later and suddenly the few fans that did show up to a overcast Wrigley Field was looking at a 5-4 line on the scoreboard.
The struggling Feldman allowed another hit and a walk with one out in the top of the fifth before getting pulled in favor of Hisanori Takahashi. Unfortunately for the Cubs, the Japanese lefty would promptly allow a single himself to load the bases, before inexplicably walking Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong. By the time Takahashi was able to get out of the frame, the Cubs were now down 7-5.
Mean while the Cubs offense that had looked so good earlier in the game suddenly looked deflated from the turn of events. Despite collecting 12 hits on the day, the Cubs were not able to register a base knock after falling behind until the bottom of the eighth inning. Alfonso Soriano led off with a double before eventually scoring on a double play ground ball by Castillo.
The Cubs threatened against the Giants closer in the bottom of the ninth, with David DeJesus tallying a double. Castro then struck out to leave Rizzo as the last man standing. The Rizzo versus Sergio Romo match up brought flashbacks of the WBC game in which Rizzo hit a clutch double, but Romo get the best of Round 2 of the battle by striking the Cubs first baseman out on a borderline inside pitch.
Today was a tough loss in which the Cubs were not able to get their pitching and defense to equal the efforts made on offense. The Cubs will have to try to bounce back against Giants ace Matt Cain on Friday afternoon.