ATLANTA -- It's the nature of the job as a late-inning reliever. If things are going well, you're pretty much ignored. Unfortunately for the Cubs and Pedro Strop, he's been a hot topic lately.
The right-hander suffered his second loss in as many outings Friday night as the Braves rallied for a 4-2 victory over the Cubs. With the game tied at 2 in the eighth, Atlanta had one on and two outs when Strop intentionally walked A.J. Pierzynski and unintentionally walked Andrelton Simmons to load the bases and set up a game-winning two-run single by Eury Perez.
"I don't know what to say," Strop said. "It's been either really good or really bad. I've got to do a better job at staying at one level. We know we're going to have bad outings, but I have to minimize it."
His loss prior to Friday was against the Cardinals on July 8, which was his last appearance before the All-Star break. Before those games, he'd given up one run in 17 outings.
"It's so strange -- I have so much faith in this guy, I really believe he's that good," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He let it get away from him [Friday]. I still believe he's one of the best."
Maddon had used Hector Rondon, who began the season as the Cubs' closer, in the seventh inning. Rather than rely on one pitcher to close games, Maddon is going on matchups, and he felt Strop was the best option in the eighth.
"It just didn't play," Maddon said. "I know they've been rough performances, but I think this guy's outstanding. Stuff-wise, he's got premier stuff, there's no doubt in my mind."
Obviously, Strop didn't want to walk Simmons.
"I wanted to go to a slider for a strike and I couldn't execute the pitch," Strop said. "I went too fine in that at-bat. I should've attacked him."
Strop, who rebounded from a rough May to post a 0.79 ERA in 12 games in June, says he feels good.
"It's not going the way I want it," Strop said. "The stuff is there, I feel good, nothing's hurting. It's just not going my way right now."