CHICAGO – As quickly and efficiently as Cubs starting pitcher Travis Wood shut down the Miami Marlins’ hitters, he suddenly lost it.
Wood did not surrender a hit through the first three innings Tuesday and struck out five hitters, continuing a stretch in which the left-hander allowed only three runs in his past 292⁄3 innings. But Wood fell apart in the fourth and fifth innings as the Marlins tagged him for eight runs en route to a 9-5 win.
The loss ended the Cubs’ four-game winning streak and snapped their season-high six-game home winning streak. The Cubs (36-53) stranded 10 on base and managed only two runs (one earned) off Miami starter Anibal Sanchez (5-6).
Carlos Lee again feasted on Cubs pitching. His fifth-inning grand slam gave the Marlins (44-46) a cushy 8-0 lead. Wood (4-4) put himself in a jam by allowing three consecutive singles, including a leadoff hit by Sanchez, to start the inning. Lee’s 39 career homers against the Cubs are his most against any team.
“Obviously, it would be apparent [my pitches were less effective], but I thought we took the same game plan out (there) those innings and maybe fell behind some guys that ended up costing me,” Wood said. “Lee hit a good pitch that was down and in.”
Wood refused to blame his struggles and his career-high-tying eight earned runs on having 10 days between starts because of the All-Star break. His 42⁄3 innings pitched marked his shortest outing of the season.
“I don’t like make excuses so I’m going to say no because every time you get the ball you know it’s your day to pitch and have to be ready to go and I always am,” Wood said. “ … I got my work in and prepared and everything and it just wasn’t my night tonight.”
The Cubs mounted a late-inning comeback, striking for three runs in the eighth against the Marlins’ bullpen. They failed to capitalize with runners on first and second and one out, however. Anthony Rizzo, who went 2 for 5, grounded into his second double play of the game to end the inning.
The Cubs finished 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position. Jeff Baker’s pinch-hit solo home run and RBI single, and Luis Valbuena’s two-run double accounted for the Cubs’ offense. The other Cubs’ run scored on Hanley Ramirez’s error in the sixth.
“We put together some hits,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “We just couldn’t break it open when we got the guys on the first inning, first and second nobody out. That was kind of a key moment to the game possibly.”