Volstad topples epic winless streak

CHICAGO – A winless streak that was getting bigger than Chris Volstad is tall finally came to an end Sunday.

The 6-foot-8 right-hander won for the first time in a Cubs uniform and the first time in any uniform since July of last season when he was a member if the Marlins.

Making it somewhat cruel was the wait Volstad was required to endure. He not only had to sit alone with his thoughts during a 2-hour, 23-minute delay at the outset, but then the game was stopped with three outs to go because of more rain.

It was mercifully called after eight innings and Volstad was finally able to breathe a little easier following the 5-0 victory.

“It was only fitting that the day took so long,” Volstad said. “(A delay) before the game, I’m used to that. It’s happened to me couple of times already this year and in Florida obviously. But the tarp being pulled in the ninth inning it was like, ‘Come on, let’s just get this over with.’”

When the umpires did inform the Cubs clubhouse that the game was indeed done, cheers erupted in Volstad’s behalf and he was showered with beverages. A beer shower is usually reserved for a pitcher’s first major league victory.

It had been 24 starts since the right-hander last won, leaving him four shy of the major-league record held by Cliff Curtis (1910-11), Matt Keough (1978-79) and Jo-Jo Reyes (2008-11).

And to his credit, he did it mostly on his own. He gave up just two hits with a sinker that was working to both right-handed and left-handed batters.

“I guess it was a little bit of a relief but like I’ve been saying I just want to throw well, keep the team there and have the team win the game,” Volstad said. “The streak, that’s just for you guys more than it is for me. But it is a little sense of relief to get it over with.”

Darwin Barney did his part with a pair of RBIs and some solid defense at second base.

“It was fun,” Barney said. “He was really excited. The thing about it, when you’re an offensive position player, you can have a game where the team wins and you contribute and you have a couple of (hits). You go home and feel pretty good about yourself. He hasn’t had one of those days in a while.”

It was actually 413 days since it happened and in five days against the San Francisco Giants he can try to make it happen all over again. He could have as many as seven starts remaining to try and improve on his 1-9 record.

“He pitched one heck of a game, keeping the ball on the ground and was actually getting some weak contact on that sinker,” manager Dale Sveum said. “He had his offspeed pitches working. He was pitching down and away. He had a great day and it was nice for him. I know that’s a huge monkey off his back.”