All the makings of a playoff game were at Wrigley Field on Saturday.
The Giants, who are atop the National League wild-card standings, sent ace Madison Bumgarner to face the best-in-baseball Cubs and reigning Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta.
But the Cubs piled up mistakes on defense and the basepaths and left nine runners on in a 3-2 loss before a boisterous crowd of 41,250.
“Intense game. It was a great game,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, whose team’s five-game winning streak was snapped. “You can nitpick it all you want. I love that game. It’s very similar to a playoff situation.”
Bumgarner, who is in the Cy Young mix this season along with three Cubs starters, struck out 10 in six innings. He gave up five hits, walked none and picked up his 14th win of the season.
Arrieta was nearly as good, surrendering three runs (two earned), four hits and two walks. He struck out seven in six innings.
“You know coming in it’s going to be a close game,” Arrieta said. “Probably a one-run ballgame, and we just got outplayed today.”
Anthony Rizzo drew a pinch-hit walk to lead off the ninth. Dexter Fowler moved him over on a perfect sacrifice bunt, but Rizzo overran second base and was thrown out trying to get back.
It was the final mistake in a game rife with them.
“I just kind of froze,” Rizzo said. “Bad baserunning on my part.”
The Giants scored in the first after a throwing error by Tommy La Stella, who was playing third base in place of Kris Bryant, who started at first.
Giants second baseman Joe Panik hit a two-out single in the fourth, then advanced to third on a wild pitch and a passed ball. He scored on a single by Eduardo Nunez.
The Giants’ third run came after Brandon Crawford singled and stole second. He stole third while the Cubs’ defense was in a shift and scored on a wild pitch.
“That’s the one play of the whole game I’d like to have back, where we just let Crawford go to third base,” Maddon said. “That set up the next play. That’s the one I’d like to have back.”
The Cubs put themselves in position to score but struggled to capitalize.
Willson Contreras hit a leadoff double in the second but didn’t reach third after Bumgarner struck out Matt Szczur and Arrieta to end the inning. The Cubs scored just one run with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, then left the bases loaded in the seventh.
It was an all-around uncharacteristic game for the Cubs, but Rizzo stopped short of calling it a “bad game.”
“I don’t think we had a bad game today,” Rizzo said. “We grinded at-bats, put ourselves in a couple positions against one of the best pitchers in the game. Just didn’t come out with a win.”
Maddon wasn’t concerned with the outcome and loved the way the Cubs worked and fought until the final out.
“I give our guys credit,” he said. “It was a very energetic baseball game with a lot of passion.”
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