CHICAGO -- There is an old adage in baseball that the only teams that talk about how they came close to winning are losing teams. Although the Cubs have been in most of their games this season, the record of 11-18 speaks for itself. A valiant comeback against arguably the best closer in baseball still resulted in a 6-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday.
The Cubs were down four runs in the ninth inning with the ominous task of facing hard-throwing Aroldis Chapman. Manager Dale Sveum watched his club score three runs and knock Chapman out of the game before falling short. The Cubs sent nine men to the plate, and Darwin Barney struck out with the bases loaded to end the game.
“Those were some great at-bats off of probably the best closer in the game," Sveum said. "There are a lot of adjustments you make with velocity, and hopefully we can learn from that too."
A moral victory usually is meaningless in professional sports. In this case the team was coming off what Sveum described as the toughest loss of the year on Thursday when a pitching gem by Travis Wood was wasted in four-run eighth inning by the San Diego Padres, who won 4-2.
"We are making it exciting but we are probably missing that one hit," said starting pitcher Carlos Villanueva, who took the loss. "We have lost so many games by one run and it feels like we are very close to breaking that barrier.
"The really good teams that are in the playoffs every year -- their record is the other way. In the one-run games they always come out on top."
Twenty-four of the Cubs' 29 games have been decided by three runs or less. Eleven of the Cubs' eighteen losses have been by two runs or less.
Villanueva had his worst outing of the season. The veteran's command was off due to being up in the strike zone during his 5.2 innings of work.
"It was just a couple pitches in Miami (during Villanueva's last start) but he was obviously up quite a bit the whole day," Sveum said.
The Cubs collected a season high 15 hits while leaving 12 men on base in the loss.