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Chicago Cubs surrender five ninth-inning runs, lose to San Francisco

Mar 23, 2017; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) throws in the first inning during a spring training game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2017; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) throws in the first inning during a spring training game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /
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A middle-innings rally meant little in the Chicago Cubs’ 10-7 loss to the San Francisco Giants, as the visitors scored five in the ninth to win.

Holding a 7-5 advantage entering the ninth, things looked good for the Chicago Cubs Tuesday afternoon. But, as we’ve seen multiple times this spring, the wheels came off late.

But a furious five-run ninth by the San Francisco Giants’ offense spelled doom. The rally sent the Cubs to another loss in front of the home faithful in Mesa.

The five runs came via three home runs: one from Chris Marrero and two from former Cubs Justin Ruggiano and Tim Federowicz. Right-hander Pierce Johnson was tagged for four earned runs in 1/3 of an inning. The outing sent his earned run average skyrocketing to 8.53 on the spring.

Chicago starter Jake Arrieta got into early trouble Tuesday, before settling in on the mound. Veteran leadoff man Denard Span took Arrieta deep to open up the ballgame and Jarrod Parker followed with a liner into right-center to make it 2-0 Giants.

With two away in the top of the second, a breaking ball got away from Arrieta, careening to the backstop. Span, who was on second base, raced all the way home – taking advantage of Miguel Montero‘s lack of quickness behind the dish.

Still, the 2015 NL Cy Young winner was effective – striking out seven and walking none over his four innings of work.

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His counterpart, Matt Cain, was dominant – minus a two-run blast served up to infielder Chesny Young, who continued his strong spring. But the right-hander got those two runs back at the dish himself in the sixth, ripping a two-run double off reliever Mike Montgomery, whose spring struggles continued Tuesday.

Joe Maddon‘s club answered right back in their half of the frame. Javier Baez singled up the middle, scoring Jason Heyward to cut the San Francisco lead to 5-3. Tommy La Stella and Ian Happ each doubled later in the inning, turning the tide and giving their team a 6-5 edge.

What Stood Out

For the Cubs to be successful in 2017, they’ll need a top-tier Jake Arrieta. On Tuesday, we saw exactly how dominant he can be – seven of the 12 outs he recorded came via strikeout.

But we also saw his downside – the wild pitch that allowed Span to score in the second. Last year, he led all National League pitcher with 16 wild pitches. He needs to control his breaking stuff more consistently to cut down on these handouts to opponents.

Next: Cubs continue to trim down roster ahead of Opening Night

Chicago hosts its last Cactus League game at Sloan Park Wednesday afternoon against the Oakland Athletics. Right-hander John Lackey will make his final spring tune-up before the regular season starts.

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