This one was going along just fine, with the Cubs apparently on their way to their ninth straight win, when Padres outfielder Travis Jankowski laid down a perfect bunt single down the third-base line with two out in the top of the seventh.
That was it for Kyle Hendricks, who wound up with an excellent outing after a rough first inning. Hendricks departed to a standing ovation, and this should be no problem, right? Pedro Strop, the usually-reliable setup man, entered having been well-rested, with Joe Maddon lifting him from Tuesday night's game after only three pitches.
Oope. That didn't work. Strop didn't retire any of the five batters he faced, and Brett Wallace's three-run homer off Strop proved the difference in the Padres' 7-4 win over the Cubs in the first game of Wednesday's split doubleheader. The loss ended the Cubs' winning streak at eight.
Hendricks had a rough first inning. He walked Jankowski to lead off the game. Jankowski stole second and then Javier Baez threw a grounder away. Two singles later, the Padres had a 2-0 lead.
The Cubs, as they have been doing all year, came back quickly. Single runs in the first and second tied the game. The amazing Ben Zobrist singled in both innings, scoring one run and driving in the other, and in so doing extended his streak of getting on base to eight straight plate appearances. He'd later walk and make it nine before flying out in the sixth.
The Cubs took a 4-2 lead in the fourth after Baez was hit to lead off the inning. Back-to-back doubles by Addison Russell and Tim Federowicz plated the runs. But when the Cubs had a chance to perhaps put the game away in the fifth, they failed to score. They loaded the bases with one out, but Federowicz struck out and Hendricks grounded out. They could have used more runs, obviously, even though at that point Hendricks was cruising. At one point he retired 12 of 13 hitters and he struck out seven after the fourth inning.
The Padres scored one more run off Neil Ramirez in the eighth on a sacrifice fly, and that could have been more except for this nice sliding catch by Jason Heyward [VIDEO], just about the only highlight of this one worth watching.
It's still foggy and cool in Chicago, though the sun tried to break through at times, and the wind didn't help a couple of Cubs fly balls that might have been out of the park on other days, particularly one by Kris Bryant in the third inning, run down by Jankowski at the wall in center field to end the fourth inning. The crowd, announced as 34,508, was probably less than half that in the house due to the last-minute rescheduling of this makeup game. I heard that bleacher tickets were going for about half the season-ticket price of $27.
Every team, even a really good one like this Cubs club appears to be, is going to have a stinker like this every now and again. It happens. They've got a chance to start another winning streak in just a few hours, as they conclude the set against the Padres this evening. John Lackey will face Drew Pomeranz.
A game preview for Game 2 will post at 6 p.m. CT and the game threads will run as normal for a 7 p.m. CT night game. My thanks to my friend Ken Keefer, who lives across the street from Wrigley, for use of his computer to write this recap.