Chimney Sweep

Struggling Chicago Cubs looking for solutions, making an attempt to keep away from 4-game sweep in San Francisco

Michael Johnson and Associated Press

2 weeks ago

Chicago Cubs' Christopher Morel reacts after being intercepted at first base on a throw by San Francisco Giants catcher Patrick Bailey in the sixth inning in San Francisco, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The struggling Chicago Cubs will be desperate to avoid a sweep in San Francisco when they end their four-game series against the Giants on Thursday afternoon.

At this point, any win for the Cubs would be welcome.

Their long misery continued late Wednesday night when the Giants' Luis Matos hit a crucial solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning and the Cubs — hampered by three outs on the bases during the game — were unable to respond in the final four innings, falling behind 4-3.

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The Cubs have now lost four games in a row and are 3-13 in their last 16 road games heading into Thursday's series finale in San Francisco. The Cubs also fell to a season low of seven games under .500 at 37-44 and remained in last place in the NL Central heading into Thursday's games.

After the series in San Francisco, the Cubs travel to Milwaukee for a three-game weekend series against the first-place Brewers, who are now 11 games ahead of the Cubs.

Big out on the bases

The Cubs trailed by one run on Wednesday night, but then put runners on first and second base with two outs in the eighth inning after Ian Happ hit a double and Christopher Morel walked.

But with Dansby Swanson at bat, the danger was averted when Giants pitcher Tyler Rogers intercepted Happ while attempting to steal third base.

“It's a risk,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said of the play. “We tried to get two guys in scoring position, but it just didn't work.”

“But base stealing is a risk. We took a risk. It didn't work.”

Swanson then returned to bat to lead off the ninth, hitting a single against Giants closer Camilo Doval. But Doval retired the next three batters, picking up his 14th save in 16 chances, and the game ended with Swanson becoming the seventh Cubs runner to walk off.

The Cubs took a 1-0 lead early in the second inning when Pete Crow-Armstrong singled to right to score Happ, but the Giants took a three-run lead on two straight home runs by Hayden Wesneski to give the Cubs the start of a bullpen game.

Michael Conforto hit a two-run homer with two outs, then David Villar followed with a solo hit that gave the Giants a 3-1 lead.

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Crow-Armstrong raced home on a single by Miguel Amaya from first base in the fourth inning to cut the Cubs lead to 3-2, and Seiya Suzuki hit his ninth home run in the fifth inning to tie the game.

But Matos hit a two-out home run to left in the fifth inning against Drew Smyly, who had been substituted for Wesneski before the inning, and lost, dropping his score to 2-5.

“It feels good to hit a home run,” Matos said through an interpreter. “I went in there looking for something to hit. He threw me a sinker. I let it go. But then he threw me the curveball and I hit it.”

The Giants' three home runs on Wednesday came from their Nos. 7, 8 and 9 batters.

“All of these guys have power,” Giants manager Bob Melvin said. “We talked earlier this year about having a strong lineup and feeling like you can score in every inning, especially with the power in the bottom end.”

Meanwhile, Giants starter Hayden Birdsong was called up from Triple-A Sacramento for his major league debut and allowed three runs and six hits with five strikeouts and three walks in 4 2/3 innings.

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“Super exciting, of course,” said Birdsong, 22. “My brain doesn't really know if it's excitement or nervousness, but we're just going to 'go with the flow and try to throw strikes and see what happens.'

“That's all I was thinking.”

Luke Jackson (4-1) followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings and picked up his fourth consecutive win.

Wesneski, making his first start since May 8, allowed three runs on two hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in four innings.

Trainer room

Boy: LHP Jordan Wicks (right oblique strain) is in the early stages of his recovery and will not return until the All-Star break, according to Counsell.


Cubs LHP Shota Imanaga (7-2, 2.96 ERA) will start on Thursday opposite Giants RHP Jordan Hicks (4-4, 3.24).

The first pitch is scheduled for 2:45 p.m.

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