Strange doings on a fall-like Labor Day afternoon at Wrigley Field:
•Cubs lefty Travis Wood, who has been their most consistent pitcher all year and death on left-handed batters, gave up a home run to a left-handed batter and to the opposing pitcher.
•Cubs hitters came out of the gate swinging, getting 4 straight singles and a sacrifice fly to start the day and take a 3-1 lead only to get nothing after that.
Those things added up to a 4-3 loss to the Miami Marlins before 26,987 on Monday, as all the scoring occurred in the first two innings.
Wood was hoping to become the first Cubs lefty since Ken Holtzman in 1970 to record 22 quality starts in a season, but that will have to wait, as Wood allowed 4 runs in 7 innings even as he regrouped from the first 2 innings.
Left-handed hitting Christian Yelich homered into the right-field bleachers in the first inning. After the Cubs came back in the bottom half, Wood gave up a 3-run homer in the second to Marlins pitcher Henderson Alvarez. From there, it was vintage Wood.
"He started putting the ball where we wanted to," said catcher Dioner Navarro. "The first homer by (Yelich) was a hanging slider down the middle, and he put a good swing on it. Then a fastball down the middle to the pitcher. After that, he started locating a lot better, and you see the results.
"He's been giving us a lot of innings, and he's been giving us a lot of opportunities. Today, we just fell short."
Speaking of innings, Wood is at 179, putting him second on the team to Jeff Samardzija's 183. Wood has not reached 200 in a major-league season, and with almost a full month to go, he looks to have a real shot at it this year.
"Take the ball every fifth day and prepare the best I can and keep doing what I'm doing," Wood said. "It (200 innings) would be nice, and that's a lot of pitchers' goals, but for me it's just taking the ball every fifth day and going as deep as I can and giving them everything I've got."
Manager Dale Sveum saw his team fall to 58-79 and to 27-43 at home against a Marlins team that is 51-85.
Starlin Castro, Luis Valbuena, Anthony Rizzo and Navarro opened with singles, and Nate Schierholtz added the sacrifice fly, but the 4 hits accounted for half the Cubs' total on the day.
"After the first four hitters of the game, we really didn't put together anything," Sveum said. "(Ryan) Sweeney had a couple hits after that, and other than that we didn't have a lot of at-bats going on."
So while the Cubs are just 3 wins shy of their total for all of last season, they'll also look to settle for individual goals, such as getting Wood (and Samardzija) to the 200-innings mark.
"It's a number that, obviously, any starting pitcher figures that if you get to 200 innings, it means you had a pretty good year and did what you were supposed to do, for a starter to get deeper in games to help bullpens out and all that," Sveum said.
"But obviously, he (Wood) has a pretty quality year all the way around."
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