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Cubs Lose Wild-Card Game To Rockies

October 03, 2018 - 12:09 am
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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- The biggest game of the Cubs' season showcased that which plagued them far too often in a disappointing finish: a poor offense.

This time, the Cubs are going home because of it.

An RBI single from the little-used reserve catcher Tony Wolters in the 13th inning lifted the Rockies to a 2-1 win against the Cubs in the National League wild-card game Tuesday evening at Wrigley Field. Continuing a second-half trend, the Cubs were lost at the plate, managing just six hits and failing to come through with the big hit on countless occasions.

Colorado's rally in the 13th came with two outs. On in relief for his second inning of work, Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks allowed back-to-back singles to Trevor Story and Gerardo Parra to put runners at the corners. Cubs manager Joe Maddon chose to ride Hendricks instead of going to lefty reliever Jorge de la Rosa. Despite hitting just .170 on the season, Wolters drove a changeup away up the middle for the game-winning single. It was his first hit since Sept. 10, as he was hitless in his previous 15 at-bats.

The Cubs' only offensive production came in the eighth inning, when they broke through to tie the game at 1-1 with a two-out rally. Anthony Rizzo singled, pinch-runner Terrance Gore then stole second and MVP candidate Javier Baez came up big, drilling an RBI double to left-center field and sending Wrigley Field into a frenzy.

That was it, though. The Cubs were flummoxed earlier in the evening by Rockies left-hander Kyle Feeland. Starting on three days rest for the first time in his career, Freeland threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering four hits and striking out six while walking just one.

The Cubs' offensive woes spoiled what was a stellar outing from left-hander Jon Lester, who lived up to his big-game reputation by throwing six innings of one-run ball, scattering four hits and a walk while striking out nine.

The only real trouble Lester got into arrived promptly. Charlie Blackmon led the game off with a walk, then DJ LeMahieu doubled to put runners at second and third. Nolan Arenado then hit a sacrifice fly to provide the Rockies with the only run that they'd need on the night. Lester escaped further damage by stirking out Trevor Story and Matt Holliday to strand LaMahieu at third.

The Cubs mounted a rally in the sixth. After pinch-hitter Ian Happ drew a lead-off walk and Ben Zobrist struck out, Kris Bryant lifted a high fly ball down the right-field line. Making a long run, Rockies right fielder David Dahl arrived on the scene in time but overran the ball a bit, and it landed untouched for a single to put two on with one out. That sent Wrigley Field into a frenzy, but the good vibes were quickly extinguished when Anthony Rizzo grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

The Cubs had another golden chance in the seventh but came up empty. An Albert Almora Jr. single and a two-out walk from Willson Contreras put runners at first and second, after which Tommy La Stella reached on catcher's interference to load the bases. But Rockies righty reliever Adam Ottavino struck out pinch-hitter Heyward on a 2-2 pitch away to end the threat. Maddon tabbed Heyward to pinch-hit after initially sending Kyle Schwarber into the on-deck circle. 

The 11th inning featured threats from both teams. With two outs in the top half, the Rockies loaded the bases on a mental error by Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, whose throw for a potential ending-inning forceout on a grounder was late to second base when he had time to go to first. On in relief, Cole Hamels managed to get out of it by retiring David Dahl on a groundout.

In the bottom half, the Cubs had runners at first and second with one out before Willson Contreras grounded into a fielder's choice and Victor Caratini grounded out to first.

The loss Tuesday capped an ending few saw coming for the Cubs, who led the NL Central by five games on the morning of Sept. 3. But as the Brewers went on a tear in winning 20 of their final 26 games, the Cubs produced a 16-12 mark in September. Milwaukee caught Chicago on Saturday, the penultimate day on the regular-season calendar, then the Brewers defeated the Cubs, 3-1, in Game 163 on Monday afternoon at Wrigley Field to win the division and earn the top seed in the NL.