<
>

Cubs' winning streak ends after errors, bullpen struggles

The Cubs' Javier Baez is hit by a pitch on Wednesday against the Padres. Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs' bullpen -- and perhaps its defense -- was bound to have a stretch when it went through some struggles. This could be that stretch after Pedro Strop imploded on the mound and Javier Baez made two critical errors at third base that led to runs in a 7-4 loss to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday in the first game of a doubleheader.

Both Baez and the bullpen had been so good, it stands out when they struggle. Baez made two throwing errors and Strop couldn’t pitch around one of them, giving up a three-run shot to the Padres' Brett Wallace with two outs in the seventh inning, erasing a deficit and giving San Diego the lead for good. This comes hours after Adam Warren gave up a late grand slam, turning a blowout into a nail-biter, a one-run victory on the same night Baez made his first error of the season.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon decided to remove starter Kyle Hendricks after he gave up a bunt single with two outs in the seventh after retiring 10 straight batters. His 102 pitches to that point were a season high, and the Padres had little hard contact off him all day, but Maddon chose to go with Strop, who immediately threw a wild pitch before the Baez error extended the inning.

So perhaps we saw a rarity: Bad defense by one of the Cubs' best defenders, a bullpen meltdown and a second-guess-worthy decision by Maddon. It all added up to the end of the Cubs' eight-game winning streak and their seventh loss of the season.