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Anthony Rizzo’s argument, Pedro Strop’s style sidebars in Cubs loss to Padres

Chicago Cubs' Anthony Rizzo, center, and manager Joe Maddon, left, argue with umpire Angel Hernandez (5) after Rizzo was called out on strikes to end a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)

The flashy Pedro Strop-inspired clothes the Cubs wore on their trip to Kansas City are fun and good for some catchy tweets. Anthony Rizzo saying Angel Hernandez’s final strike call to end Sunday’s game was “unacceptable” and “can’t happen” will make for interesting quotes and soundbites.

“Angel told me to look at it. I looked at it, and he was wrong, and I would like for him to confirm that because that can’t happen,” Rizzo said during a measured but pointed session with the media that lasted 4½ minutes. “It can’t happen in the major leagues, at Wrigley Field or at any field.”

But Strop-style bling and Rizzo following one of the most notorious umpires in baseball down the first-base line after the last out were only sidebars to what happened in the Cubs’ 10-6 loss to the Padres. The Cubs only split a four-game set with the National League’s worst team and failed to extend their one-game lead over the Brewers.

Jon Lester allowed five runs, including homers to Freddy Galvis and Franmil Reyes. Lester also failed to go more than five innings for the second consecutive start and third time in four, and questions about how effective he’ll be down the stretch will only get louder.

Lester, who gave up four runs in the first two innings, said his stuff early was “not really up to anybody’s expectations.”

“I felt like I had really good stuff today. Once again, no swing-and-miss stuff. Figure it out,” Lester said. “A little rut right now, and keep grinding.”


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Lester is part of an experienced group of starters, and that gives manager Joe Maddon confidence the rotation can still improve. Any consistent uptick would help, considering the starters entered the game with a 4.10 ERA.

“Right now, we’re pitching [Kyle] Hendricks, Lester and [Cole]Hamels back-to-back-to-back, and then you throw in [Mike Montgomery] and [Jose Quintana]. That’s pretty good,” Maddon said before the game. “I really have a lot of faith that this is going to continue to get better.”

That’s what Maddon and the Cubs need, especially since the bullpen showed signs of being taxed. Carl Edwards Jr. (one run) and Randy Rosario (four runs) couldn’t back an offense that rallied from a 5-1 deficit.

There were other issues, too. Javy Baez was thrown out trying to steal third to end the fifth, and David Bote was picked off second to finish the sixth, both ruining scoring opportunities as a ragged stretch of play continued.

“We hurt ourselves on the bases, but I don’t want us to overthink it. I don’t want us to become less -aggressive,” Maddon said. “It’s just one of those things that happened today.”

Baez, who hit his career-best 24th homer, isn’t at risk of losing his aggression, even if it didn’t help here.

“Jav is Jav, so you’re going to expect a lot out of him,” Lester said. “Now I think we’ve all kind of seen him and what he’s turned into is as far as a baseball player, and I think the expectation now is for him to kind of put us on his back. He’s fun to watch.

“With all the good things he does, you have to sometimes take the minor bad things that he does and move on. I always accept being aggressive over passive any day, and that’s him as a player and that’s him as a person. Never question what he does on a baseball field.”