The Cubs went five weeks and two days into the season without losing back-to-back games. Then they pulled off the feat in the span of 10 hours on Wednesday.
“Yeah, I’m a little surprised we lost both games [Wednesday],” said John Lackey, whose lone mistake in the nightcap turned into the only run of the game when Christian Bethancourt hit it onto Waveland Avenue in the fifth inning of the Padres’ 1-0 victory.
The Padres came from behind to win the opener 7-4 with a four-run seventh inning – including a go-ahead, three-run homer with two out by Brett Wallace off Pedro Strop.
That one snapped a season-high eight-game winning streak for the Cubs, who hadn’t lost since May 1.
Their two losses on Wednesday were twice as many as they’d had in the previous 17 days.
In fact, the last team in the majors to suffer consecutive defeats this season hadn’t lost back-to-back regular-season games since Sept. 25 and 26. They played 44 games between the pairs of losses.
It was the deepest into a season any team has played without losing consecutive games since the 1929 Philadelphia Athletics, who lost their 51st an 52nd games.
“It’s gonna happen. It’s inevitable. It’s the big leagues,” said Lackey who retired the first 14 batters he faced before Bethancourt’s fifth career home run, followed by a lengthy gaze at the ball that seemed to tick off Lackey.
“How many home runs does he have?” said Lackey (4-2). “I’ve got a long memory.”
The Cubs left 21 men on base in the two games, going 3-for-24 with men in scoring position.
“Whatever,” catcher David Ross said. “We’ve got eight losses.”
Their 25-8 record is still tops in the majors and still seven games better than the second-place Pirates, who open a three-game series at Wrigley Field on Friday.
“Both games we hit a lot of balls well that we did not benefit from,” manager Joe Maddon said. “But their defense was in the right spot. They made good pitches when they had to. Sometimes you’ve got to give the other side some credit.”
The Cubs had a chance to win both games Wednesday, including a bases-loaded, two-out chance in the eighth of the nightcap against left-hander Brad Hand and the struggling Jorge Soler at the plate.
Maddon said he didn’t consider a pinch hitter (Addison Russell the only reasonable option), and Soler struck out swinging – his fourth K of the game.
“He had a tough night, but he’ll rebound,” Maddon said of Soler, who looks increasingly like a demotion candidate. “He’ll be fine.”
Zo on the go
Ben Zobrist reached base in four of five trips to the plate in Game 1 – and 10 of his last 11. He struck out in a pinch-hit appearance in the nightcap and later grounded out.
His singles in his first two at-bats gave him hits in seven consecutive at-bats dating to Sunday. The strikeout was his first since May 3.
In his last 10 games, Zobrist is 15-for-34 (.441) with seven walks and 18 RBIs.
“Wow,” Maddon said. “I’ve seen him good. And this is about as good as I’ve ever seen him.”
Notes: Catcher Miguel Montero (back) could be ready to return from the disabled list by the time the Cubs open their series against the second-place Pirates on Friday. After faring well in six innings behind the plate for AAA Iowa in his first rehab-assignment game Tuesday, he went 2-for-4 as the Iowa DH Wednesday. … The Cubs recalled right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. for the day to add to the bullpen as the 26th man allowed on the roster for the doubleheader. He warmed up in the bullpen during the second game but did not pitch. …The Cubs are 3-5 against last-place clubs San Diego and Atlanta, and next-to-last-in-the-West Colorado, all at home. They’re 22-3 against everyone else, including 9-1 against their three opponents this season that opened play Wednesday with winning records (Pittsburgh, Washington, St. Louis).