James Russell had been sailing along with 12 straight scoreless appearances. But in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader with the Brewers, it took just one pitch for Russell to have that streak end.
The workhorse Cubs lefty came on in relief of starter Carlos Villanueva and gave up a first-pitch 3-run homer to Khris Davis in the seventh inning to turn a 5-2 Cubs lead into a 5-5 tie. Russell gave up another run in the inning.
In addition to suffering his seventh blown save, Russell was tagged with the loss, as he fell to 1-3 with a 3.08 ERA. He also has a WHIP of 1.32.
Russell has worked in 53 games after appearing in a career-high 77 last year. Manager Dale Sveum was asked if Russell is fatigued.
"I don't know," Sveum said. "The velocities are fine. They're all normal. He just can't make that pitch and get the ball on the ground."
Russell started the season with 17 straight scoreless outings. He had a rough June, with a 5.56 ERA and 17 hits allowed in 111⁄3 innings pitched.
Along with right fielder Nate Schierholtz and closer Kevin Gregg, Russell is among Cubs players reportedly sought after by other teams for trades. The nonwaiver deadline for making trades is 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Better, but no win:
Carlos Villanueva is winless in his last 10 starts after leaving Tuesday afternoon's game with a chance to win. He went 61⁄3 innings, giving up 6 hits and 4 runs. The start was his longest since May 8, when he went 62⁄3 against the Cardinals.
Villanueva opened the season in the rotation but went to the pen when Matt Garza came off the disabled list May 21. When the Cubs traded Scott Feldman earlier this month, Villanueva got his starting job back.
"I feel healthy; I feel good," Villanueva said. "I felt a lot better today than my previous 2 starts. I felt I had better rhythm today. "
Not there yet:
Right-hander Scott Baker went 31⁄3 innings Monday night for Class A Daytona in his fourth rehab start.
Baker took the loss and gave up 3 hits and 2 runs, 1 earned, while walking two and striking out two. He was hit around in 3 rehab starts for the Kane County Cougars before being promoted to high-A Daytona.
Baker is on the mend from Tommy John surgery, performed in April 2012 while he was with the Twins. The Cubs are in no rush to activate him to the major-league roster.
"A little better, I think, as far as velocity," Dale Sveuon. "But the command and all that, (we're) still seeing a little short. Sixty-five pitches in 31⁄3 innings, that's 20 pitches per inning again. Still not getting the quick outs and what you want done in a 65-pitch outing.
"We're not too concerned because we don't have a need right now. We're OK with everything. It's just kind of a slow development for him right now."