ST. LOUIS — Cubs manager Joe Maddon tried his best to acknowledge the real culprit in the Cubs’ 2-1, 10-inning loss Friday to the Cardinals.
‘‘We really need to do a better job of driving in runs,’’ Maddon said after the Cubs went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. ‘‘We wouldn’t even be in that position in the end. I guess it’s, like, 0-for-the-last-23. I didn’t know it was that bad. But we have to do a better job right there.’’
That said, Maddon couldn’t hide his ire at an apparent missed strike-three call by umpire Laz Diaz on a 3-2 pitch from Dillon Maples to Harrison Bader in the 10th inning that set the stage for the Cardinals’ winning run. After Kolten Wong’s one-out double against Mike Montgomery, it put runners on first and second. Maples then walked pinch hitter Jedd Gyorko on four pitches to load the bases. Then, with the Cubs using five infielders, Matt Carpenter hit a deep fly ball into the corner in left field for a game-winning single against Steve Cishek.
The loss spoiled an encouraging performance by right-hander Yu Darvish, who allowed one run and three hits in six innings. But Maddon felt worse for Maples, whose pitch to Bader didn’t even look like a borderline call.
‘‘Dillon Maples was outstanding,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘The fact that he would be placed in that situation after he clearly struck Bader out, which would have totally turned into a different moment for him — I totally believe that — that’s the kind of thing that bums me out.
“Listen, we were not good offensively. But to have pitches like that taken away in a crucial moment — now my guy’s got to go home and feel bad about himself, which I don’t like whatsoever. And it wasn’t even a borderline pitch; it was a strike. That’s the kind of stuff you want to see something done about.
‘‘I’m still not advocating an electronic strike zone. I’m advocating . . . you cannot miss that pitch in that situation. Here’s a guy that ascending to the major leagues as a relief pitcher, doing a wonderful job. Does his job and does not get rewarded for it. That’s what kind of pisses me off, quite frankly.’’
Maddon acknowledged that Maples didn’t respond well by walking Gyorko. Maples, though, said he was going for the strikeout.
‘‘It shouldn’t [affect him], but it did,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘If he gets [that call], I think there’s a pretty high-percentage chance he gets the next one. But we need to do a better job offensively.’’
The loss was the Cubs’ 10th in their last 16 games and dropped them to 31-24, still a half-game in front of the second-place Brewers in the National League Central.
But it couldn’t temper Maddon’s enthusiasm about Darvish’s performance. After walking Carpenter and Paul DeJong to lead off the game — with a wild pitch in between — Darvish retired 11 of the next 12 batters he faced. He also got out of a fifth-inning jam by striking out Carpenter on a splitter with runners on first and second and two outs.
‘‘Yu was outstanding once again,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘Had to pinch-hit for him [in the top of the seventh]. Otherwise, he could have gone back out. That was some electric stuff by him all night long.’’
Darvish struck out six, walked three and hit a batter.
‘‘His confidence is beginning to soar,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘I really believe you’re going to see that a lot more often.’’