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posted: 6/7/2013 6:36 PM

High-quality Wood done in by low-quality offense

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  • Cubs starter Travis Wood talks to catcher Welington Castillo after the Pirates' Russell Martin hit an RBI-double in the sixth inning Friday at Wrigley Field.

    Cubs starter Travis Wood talks to catcher Welington Castillo after the Pirates' Russell Martin hit an RBI-double in the sixth inning Friday at Wrigley Field.
    Associated Press


A whole lot of nothing.

That's what the Cubs ended up with Friday in their 2-0 loss to the Pirates at chilly Wrigley Field. It's also what starting pitcher Travis Wood ended up with, except for a losing decision.

The way it's going, Wood figures to be the Cubs' lone representative at next month's All-Star Game in New York. He pitched well enough again, limiting the Pirates to 4 hits and 1 run over 6 innings. Wood's record fell to 5-4, but his ERA dropped from 2.75 to 2.65.

It was also the third straight quality-start game the Cubs have lost.

"He's pitched like an all-star, that's for sure," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "I remember 3 of those earned runs were on a routine popup to second base (against the Padres last month). "He's pitched like an all-star, however many quality starts. They're not just quality starts. They're 1 and 2 runs. It's not 3."

The 1 was enough Friday, with reliever Carlos Villanueva giving up the other run in the ninth on some questionable defensive decision-making.

Wood gave up doubles to Jordy Mercer and Russell Martin in the sixth for the game's first run.

"I did pitch well," said Wood, who threw 103 pitches. "I felt like I kept them off-balance, and I was able to get the outs when I needed except for the one that really counted."

It was all moot, as Cubs hitters did nothing with Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano (4-2, 1.75 ERA) and two relievers.

Now about those decisions.

Alfonso Soriano singled with two outs in the eighth against right-handed reliever Mark Melancon. Instead of going with left-handed pinch hitter Nate Schierholtz, Sveum stayed with right-hander Scott Hairston, who was called out on strikes. Sveum cited left-handed hitters batting just .151 against Melancon as the reason he didn't make the switch.

In the ninth, the Pirates got an insurance run. Martin, a catcher, led off with a walk and went to third on Pedro Alvarez's single to right. After Neil Walker struck out, Travis Snider bounced the ball hard to third baseman Luis Valbuena, who entered the game in the eighth as a pinch hitter.

Instead of going home to get the slow-footed Martin, Valbuena threw to second base attempting a double play. However, second baseman Darwin Barney had far to run, and he couldn't turn two after getting the forceout.

"It's one of those things where, as a defense, we play shifty a little bit," Barney said. "In that situation, I'm going to take that hole (between first and second). It's not for me to say, but I went through all the situations in my head, and that was not one of them that popped up. I did what I could with it.

"It's tough because as a third baseman, you get a hard groundball right at you, obviously, you're turning two. It didn't play into our defense, and it didn't work out. Maybe a little more communication would have helped in that situation."

Sveum said Valbuena knew "after the fact something broke down there."

For his part, Valbuena said that because the ball was hit hard, he'd go the same way if he had to do it again.

"I'm not going home because it's (hit) too hard," he said. "If I go two and it's a double play, the inning is over."

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