By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The Cubs and right-hander John Lackey took one on the chin from the Giants on Monday evening, falling 6-4 at Wrigley Field.
Despite some splendid defense behind him, Lackey lasted just five innings, allowing five runs, all earned, on seven hits and two walks while striking out six. The only silver lining was the Cubs forced the Giants to use Mark Melancon after trailing 6-0 entering the bottom of the eighth, where they knocked out San Francisco left-hander Ty Blach and scored four runs.
“I thought I threw the ball better tonight than I did in the last three,” said Lackey, who fell to 4-4 in suffering his first loss since April 23. “You have to give their guy a lot of credit. He pitched really well.”
Blach hurled a five-hitter through seven shutout innings before the Cubs pounced in the eighth inning. The only reason Chicago had a chance to bring the tying runs to the plate late was because of four dazzling defensive plays. Two came in the first inning, when center fielder Albert Almora laid out to rob Brandon Belt of extra bases. Shortstop Addison Russell also made a play in the hole and fired a rocket to snuff out a base hit for Christian Arroyo.
“We made some great plays all around,” Russell said. “We played very well on defense and had some good at-bats tonight. The beauty of this team is we never quit.”
Despite the loss that dropped his Cubs to 22-21, manager Joe Maddon thought his team came to play in a 2-hour, 59-minute game that was the first at Wrigley Field this season under three hours.
“If we keep playing that kind of game, that would make me a happy person,” Maddon said of the effort showcased in making it close.
In the fourth inning, a nifty 2-5-4 double play erased a Giants scoring threat, and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo made a fabulous play in the ninth inning to snag a smash by Belt as well.
“That is what we are supposed to look like,” Maddon said. “We did not quit. I have nothing to complain about. I shall sleep well. That is the game we are looking for there.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.