Cubs drop back-and-forth game to Padres despite Trey Mancini’s emergence

After an early slump, Mancini has eight hits and two homers in his last six games.

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Cubs first baseman Trey Mancini hits a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field on April 26, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.

Cubs first baseman Trey Mancini hits a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field on April 26, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.

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The Cubs came out of a back-and-forth game Wednesday with a 5-3 loss to the Padres.

Left-hander Drew Smyly held San Diego to two runs in five innings. The start didn’t match the dominance of his last outing in which he carried a perfect game into the eighth inning against the Dodgers, but it kept the Cubs in the game.

The one at-bat he was replaying in his head after the game was against Jake Cronenworth with two runners on in the fourth inning.

It started with an automatic ball on a pitch-timer violation. Cronenworth watched a curveball in the dirt for another ball and a sinker on the outer third for a strike. Smyly came back with another curve, and Cronenworth drove it into the right-field corner for a two-run triple.

“I wish I could have gone longer,” Smyly said, “but the fourth inning was a little taxing.”

Trey Mancini erased the Padres’ 2-0 lead with a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth. He has eight hits in his last 19 at-bats after a slow start to the season.

The next inning, Nico Hoerner, who is on a 21-game on-base streak, gave the Cubs the lead with an RBI single.

The Padres surged back in the seventh inning.

Ha-Seong Kim led off with a single, then Cubs reliever Brandon Hughes walked pinch hitter Trent Grisham. Jose Azocar laid down a sacrifice bunt to push two runners into scoring position. Fernando Tatis Jr., whom Cubs fans had been booing all series, came through with a two-run single for a 4-3 lead.

Cubs reliever Julian Merryweather took the mound in the ninth inning to hold the game within striking distance. He gave up a leadoff single to Kim, a ground ball through the right side of the infield. He struck out Grisham and induced a flyout from Azocar. But Tatis hit another RBI single. Merryweather struck out Juan Soto to end the inning.

The Cubs got one more chance for a comeback against Padres closer Josh Hader.

Yan Gomes gave them hope with two outs, driving a double into the left-field corner. Nelson Velazquez drew a nine-pitch walk, but Hoerner popped out in foul territory for the last out.

Cold welcome to Wrigley for Tatis

As Tatis walked toward the dugout before the game, a fan in a Cubs jersey yelled to him, “I liked your dance yesterday.”

She was referring to a moment in the Cubs’ 6-0 victory Tuesday that made the rounds on social media. In the fifth inning, the Bally Sports broadcast showed Tatis dancing in right field along to Cubs fans’ “steroids” chants.

Tatis returned from his 80-game banned-substance suspension last week.

The taunts from Cubs fans continued Wednesday. The game opened with thunderous boos as Tatis stepped into the batter’s box to lead off.

Quotable

“One of the most impressive guys I’ve ever played with. He’s wise beyond his years. . . . And it’s fun to watch as a teammate.” — Mancini on Hoerner

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