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Chicago Cubs bullpen blows another late lead in a 7-6 loss to St. Louis Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS — The Chicago Cubs aren’t panicking after their first three-game losing streak of the season.

But that doesn’t mean there are no worries following a 7-6 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday at Busch Stadium.

Another blown lead from the Cubs bullpen proved to be the difference, as Mark Leiter Jr. gave up four runs on four singles in the eighth inning to turn a one-run lead into a three-run deficit.

Matt Carpenter’s tying pinch-hit RBI single off Leiter and a two–run, go-ahead single from Brendan Donovan were the key blows. Porter Hodge allowed an inherited runner to score in the fourth-run inning, which proved to be important when the Cubs scratched across two runs in the top of the ninth before stranding the tying run on third on Christopher Morel’s grounder.

Leiter’s stellar 0.90 ERA rose to 2.61 after the outing.

“There wasn’t a lot of hard contact,” manager Craig Counsell said of Leiter. “They hit some base hits tonight, and to Carpenter he fell behind. A soft line drive that gets through. There are going to be some balls that get through. They hit it in the right spot. He’s been great, and a big reason for a lot of wins. It just didn’t play tonight.”

It was the 10th blown save in 22 opportunities, a paltry 55% conversion rate.

“He’s pretty automatic,” starter Jameson Taillon said. “It happens. Knowing Mark, he’ll go assess and look at it and figure out whatever he needs to work on and be fine.”

The Cubs entered Saturday with a major-league-worst .207 average in May and didn’t do much to improve on that off Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas, who limited them to four hits over six innings.

But Paul Goldschmidt’s error at first led to the go-ahead run in the seventh. Goldschmidt allowed Michael Busch to reach with one out by dropping an easy toss that was in his glove for a second and came out during a scooping motion. After a review challenge confirmed the call, Dansby Swanson walked and Patrick Wisdom followed with a go-ahead RBI double.

St. Louis Cardinals' Alec Burleson, left, scores past Chicago Cubs catcher Miguel Amaya during the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 25, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
The Cardinals’ Alec Burleson, left, scores past Cubs catcher Miguel Amaya during the eighth inning May 25, 2024, in St. Louis. (Jeff Roberson/AP)
Cubs outfielder Mike Tauchman hits an RBI single against the Cardinals in the ninth inning on May 25, 2024, at Busch Stadium in St Louis, Mo. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)
Cubs outfielder Mike Tauchman hits an RBI single against the Cardinals in the ninth inning on May 25, at Busch Stadium in St Louis, Mo.

But the Cubs couldn’t add on, and Leiter couldn’t hold the Cardinals.

“We definitely created more pressure,” Counsell said. “Overall a better night for the offense.”

Taillon allowed three runs on nine hits over 5 ⅔ innings. All but one of those hits was a single, including four during a five-batter stretch in the third inning. He was removed after a game-tying, RBI double by Masyn Wynn on his 105th pitch.

“It’s a long season, we’re getting healthy, I see a lot of good things happening,” Taillon said. “We’re not getting wins right now, but we’ve got a good group. I feel it’s going to turn. Too much talent in here not to.

“Too many professionals and guys who are locked in every day. It’s going to happen.”

The Cubs finish the series Sunday night with Javier Assad facing Cardinals ace Sonny Gray on ESPN.

 

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Paul Sullivan , 2024-05-26 06:15:21

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