Sveum finds much good in Cubs’ win
BY TONI GINNETTI email@example.com June 13, 2013 10:22PM
Updated: June 13, 2013 11:06PM
Marathon baseball is fine when it ends in a victory, as it did Thursday for the Cubs.
The 6-5 victory in 14 innings snapped the Cubs’ 12-game losing streak against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field, but it will mean more if the relief pitching and hitting the team got signal an end to more than a week of doldrums.
‘‘A lot of times when you have one of these, you start playing well,’’ manager Dale Sveum said. ‘‘Hopefully, it puts us in a good frame of mind going into a tough road trip against New York and St. Louis.’’
In their previous eight games, the Cubs hit .158, averaging 2.4 runs per game. They broke out with 15 hits Thursday. However, they left 13 men on base, going 4-for-19 with runners in scoring position.
Nate Schierholtz had two triples and scored three runs, and catcher Welington Castillo had three hits. Julio Borbon, the last man available to pinch-hit, won it with a two-out single that scored Starlin Castro from third.
‘‘I was ready from the ninth inning on,’’ Borbon said. ‘‘I was glad to have that opportunity to help in any way. It felt pretty good.’’
Sveum decided before the game to end his experiment with struggling shortstop Starlin Castro batting seventh. It paid off enough, with Castro going 3-for-7 with two runs scored, including the game-winner, from the second spot in the lineup.
‘‘Castro has been showing signs in the last few games with the way he’s been swinging it,’’ starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija said. ‘‘His outs have been just missing it a little. But his approach has been getting him hits.’’
Samardzija knows it’s his turn to come around, as well.
‘‘It was kind of the same story of not throwing first-pitch strikes,’’ said Samardzija, who gave up five runs and 10 hits in six innings. ‘‘The splitter [his ‘‘out’’ pitch] is different when you throw it at 1-0 than 0-2.’’
Samardzija was on the hook for the loss until the Cubs tied the score in the eighth. They had chances to end it in the ninth, but Castro’s deep drive to left was held in by a stiff wind and fell for a double.
They also stranded two runners in the 11th.
The Reds stranded 13 in the game, as well, but nearly all were when Samardzija was pitching.
The Cubs’ bullpen — including Carlos Villanueva, James Russell, Kevin Gregg, Carlos Marmol, Blake Parker and Hector Rondon (1-0) — allowed three hits in eight innings of scoreless ball.
‘‘They were outstanding,’’ Samardzija said. ‘‘Watching them pitch eight innings of shutout baseball is exciting.
‘‘A lot of times it takes games like this to get things going.’’
After a 2-5 homestand against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Reds, it felt good to the manager, too.
‘‘A lot of good things happened today,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘Better swings from the bats, and the bullpen was efficient, threw strikes. They did a great job against a nice lineup.’’