Unearned runs ruin Cubs win streak

The Cubs headed to San Francisco carrying a six-game win streak and looking to complete a successful trip around the pitching rotation.

But the Giants were mired in a seven-game losing streak and it was their starter, Alex Wood, who delivered the streakbusting performance.

Wood no-hit the Cubs through six innings before Ian Happ finally led off the seventh with a sharp single up the middle. Two batters later, Patrick Wisdom found the front row, hitting a 2-run homer just beyond the reach of former Cubs left fielder Joc Pederson.

The Cubs couldn't do any more damage, though, as the win streak ended with a 4-2 loss on a chilly night in San Francisco, on a patchwork field that was torn up by an exhibition soccer game a few days ago.

Justin Steele failed to record the Cubs' fifth-straight quality start, but deserved a better fate. He left in the fourth inning with all 4 runs unearned.

The bad luck began in the third inning when the Giants scored 3 runs. Wisdom lost an easy pop up by Mike Yastrzemski in the fog. Austin Slater followed with a swinging bunt to put runners on first and third.

Steele struck out Darin Ruf for the second out, then hit Wilmer Flores to load the bases. Former White Sox catcher Yermin Mercedes finished an 11-pitch at-bat with a soft single to center to score 2 runs. Thairo Estrada's infield single to deep short brought in the third run.

In the fourth inning, Nico Hoerner airmailed a throw to first on a routine grounder. That set up an RBI double by Slater to make it 4-0.

Steele left after 84 pitches, but one bright spot for the Cubs was reliever Erich Uelman, who retired all seven batters he faced in his second major-league appearance.

The starting rotation had been the most important part of the Cubs win streak, along with the return of Marcus Stroman and Drew Smyly from the injured list.

"The length alone, I think all of them have given us six-plus (innings)," manager David Ross told reporters before the game. "It really is that old cliché of momentum is as good as the next day's starting pitcher."

Stroman and Smyly are scheduled to start the next two days. Adrian Sampson, who takes the mound on Monday, hasn't been credited with a victory yet this season, but helped get the win streak started against the Mets in the last game before the all-star break. He went 7 innings in Monday's 3-2 win over the Pirates.

"When you have a good flow when they're just giving you quality starts, you're in the ballgame, so it feels like you've got a really good chance to compete and then it saves the bullpen," Ross said.

The Cubs' focus on starting pitchers extended to the minor leagues. Veteran lefty Wade Miley, out since June 10 with a left shoulder strain, is planning to throw a rehab start on Friday at Class A South Bend. Miley could conceivably be a trade candidate heading into Tuesday's deadline if he shows he's healthy.

At Triple A Iowa, left-hander Sean Newcomb got his first start this year on Thursday. Newcomb appeared in four games for the Cubs earlier this season and did not fare well. But he had 8 strikeouts in 4 innings for Iowa, allowing 1 earned run.

In other Iowa news, Nick Madrigal went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double Thursday and could be closing in on a return to the majors. He's been out since June 12 with a left groin strain.

Infielder Andrelton Simmons (right shoulder strain) began a rehab assignment with Iowa and went 0-for-2 with a walk Thursday at St. Paul.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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