D-backs conclude homestand with 2nd straight tight loss to Cubs

May 15, 2022, 6:30 PM
Seiya Suzuki #27 of the Chicago Cubs advances to second base on a ground ball by Alfonso Rivas #36 ...
Seiya Suzuki #27 of the Chicago Cubs advances to second base on a ground ball by Alfonso Rivas #36 as Nick Ahmed #13 of the Arizona Diamondbacks applies a tag and looks to second base umpire Nestor Ceja #105 for a call during the sixth inning Chase Field on May 15, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. Suzuki was safe at second base and Rivas was out at first base. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks dropped their second straight game in which the score was tied in the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs 3-2 at Chase Field Sunday afternoon.

The loss concluded their nine-game homestand in which Arizona went 5-4. All four losses involved the opposing team taking the lead in the ninth inning.

Manager Torey Lovullo expressed his expectation that his club will be in a lot of close games this year and will need to come up with more timely hits to turn close losses into victories.

“Two grinding games, two tough losses for us,” Lovullo said postgame. “We’ve come to expect to play these types of games. I think our guys embrace these types of games. But I know we’ve got to hit our stride offensively and get the job done in some key situations and we will.”

The D-backs stranded five runners on Sunday, four of which were in scoring position.

The Cubs, meanwhile, were 0-for-10 with runners on base until the ninth inning, when designated hitter Frank Schwindel brought home third baseman Patrick Wisdom on a flare base hit to right.

The D-backs got the first two batters in the latter half on base, but pinch hitter David Peralta grounded into a game-ending double play.

“We’re just not finishing,” catcher Daulton Varsho said postgame. “I mean, back-to-back days and having really tight games, just got to be able to get those extra runs, especially early on and late in the game.

“That’s baseball, it’s going to happen. Just got to be able to fight through and keep going.”

Humbert Castellanos started the game for the D-backs with a turbulent first two innings before settling down.

Cubs center fielder Rafael Ortega got the party started on his 31st birthday with a no-doubter lead-off home run to right field.

The D-backs failed to respond in the bottom half despite left fielder Cooper Hummel hitting a lead-off triple. Right fielder Seiya Suzuki made a sliding catch to rob first baseman Christian Walker of an RBI hit with two outs.

Cubs third baseman Patrick Wisdom started the second inning with a solo blast to left, as Lovullo said Castellanos made some mistakes over the plate early.

But, the 24-year-old hit a groove and held Chicago hitless from innings 3-5 with five straight punch outs in that stretch.

He used the sinker to finish off two of those strikeouts, a slider on one, a changeup and a curveball.

“I was able to make the adjustments to do my job,” Castellanos said translated from Spanish. “More intensity on my pitches, better location on my pitches.”

Castellanos kept the D-backs close enough to break through offensively in the fourth inning and tie the game on a pair of runs. Varsho got the D-backs on the board with a single, and Arizona tied the game on an error by Cubs shortstop Ildemaro Vargas.

Rookie center fielder Alek Thomas came up with the bases loaded and two outs, a golden chance to take the lead, although he chopped out to second.

Castellanos came out of the game with an out in the sixth inning after throwing 92 pitches.

Excluding a difficult performance in St. Louis on April 28, the 24-year-old has a 2.51 ERA in five starts.

“He’s doing exactly what you want from a fifth starter,” Lovullo said. “You want him to be able to give you a chance to win a baseball game every fifth day. … He’s been fantastic.”

The D-backs bullpen initially picked him up, continuing to shut down the Cubs through the eighth inning.

Keynan Middleton, Kyle Nelson, Noe Ramirez and Joe Mantiply combined for 2.2 scoreless frames, while third baseman Josh Rojas snagged sharp ball to come up with a critical out with a runner on second in the seventh inning.

Kennedy got hit with the loss after allowing a double and single in the top of the ninth.

Chicago starter Justin Steele struck out a career-high 1-0 batters and allowed one earned run in six frames.

The defeat for Arizona ended its three-series winning streak. The D-backs are 18-17 this season, 12-6 over their most recent 18 contests.

“It’d have been nice to to get this last series, but overall, I feel like the team is in a pretty good spot,” Walker said. “Keeping games close defensively, offensively. … We’re not putting any pressure on ourselves to score runs. We know it’ll happen. It’s just letting the game come to us.

“Overall, I’d say it’s good, hopeful. Good vibes.”

The D-backs hit the road for eight games in seven days starting Monday night in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.

First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. Tune in on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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D-backs conclude homestand with 2nd straight tight loss to Cubs