Chicago Cubs: Bullpen meltdown costs Cubs, streak over at 6

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 21: Jake Arrieta
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 21: Jake Arrieta /

Chicago Cubs’ Jake Arrieta pitched well on the mound, but bullpen woes, including six walks and nine 8th-inning runs, fuel St. Louis Cardinals to win.

The red-hot Chicago Cubs came into their homestand against the St. Louis Cardinals 3.5 games ahead and looked to further distance themselves from their NL Central rivals.

As you might expect, it was a close affair between the two rivals most of the day. The Cubs’ bullpen, however, imploded in the 8th as the Cardinals snapped the Cubs win streak and won 11-4.

Cleaning up

Coming into the day catcher Willson Contreras was hitting .333 from the cleanup spot, and .380 for the month of July. Contreras stayed hot with his 14th home run of the season.

Cubs’ catchers have 18 home runs, tops in NL. Anthony Rizzo picked up his team-leading 60th RBI.

Focus on the bright side

Since the All-Star Break, Cubs’ starters have been impeccable. Jake Arrieta continued that trend today. He threw six solid innings, struck out six, allowed two runs on five hits, and did not walk a batter.

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Entering the day Arrieta came in with a 6-1, 0.95 ERA at Wrigley against the Cardinals, and 1-1 this season against the NL Central rivals.

July has been his best month by far as he came into the start with an ERA under two. He had a +4 ERA each of the first three months.

Bullpen meltdown

After Pedro Strop pitched a scoreless inning in relief, things got dicey as both Carl Edwards Jr. and Héctor Rondon failed to record outs in the 8th inning. Edwards loaded the bases, allowing one hit, walking two. Rondon entered with the bases loaded, walked in the tying run, and gave up the go-ahead two-run double.

Things further unraveled for Justin Grimm.

Randal Grichuk had a solo home run, his 10th. Dexter Fowler went 3-for-4 with a steal.

Carlos Martínez allowed three runs, two earned, on 10 hits. Kris Bryant sat out as he recovers from his sprained pinky.

Next: Big series against rival Cardinals will test reigning champs

What’s next

The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals resume game two of their 3-game set. Jon Lester (6-6, 4.07 ERA) battles Adam Wainwright (11-5, 5.08 ERA).

First pitch from Wrigley Field is scheduled for 3:05 pm C.T.