CHICAGO -- The Cubs loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth inning Sunday against White Sox starter Chris Sale -- a huge accomplishment considering how he had been pitching. But the lefty struck out Jorge Soler on an 82-mph slider, prompting a huge roar from the sellout crowd of 39,475. The result may not have been what manager Joe Maddon wanted, but the experience was good.
"The moment when Soler struck out really had a playoff moment attached to it in a visceral sense," Maddon said after the Cubs' 3-1 loss to the White Sox. "It was all about the crowd, the moment, the bases loaded, everybody going nuts. It was outstanding. All those moments will contribute to our guys getting into September and eventually October."
That's the Cubs' plan, and losing Sunday didn't do anything but give Maddon's team a little reality check.
"You're not going to win them all, man," Maddon said. "That doesn't happen. We've been playing really well. We continue to play really well. Today we just ran into a good pitcher and that was the difference in the game."
Sale struck out 15 over seven innings to snap the Cub's winning streak at nine, and hand them only their second loss in the last 17 games. They have not won 10 in a row since May 19-June 2, 2001, and the Cubs will just have to try to start a new streak on Tuesday against the Tigers.
The loss means Maddon can wash his socks. He's been wearing the same camouflage-patterned pair to the ballpark since July 29, and had had them washed just once, and that was after a loss on Aug. 5 to the Pirates.
"We try to win series, and that's all you can do," Dexter Fowler said. "You might lose a game here or there, but that's the goal, to win series."
"We gave ourselves a chance to at least tie it up," Maddon said of the ninth. "All the little things in that game just regarding our not quitting and playing a full nine innings, I was pleased with that."
That's all Maddon has asked of the young team, which heads into a much needed off-day Monday second in the National League Wild Card standings, 2 1/2 games behind the Pirates.
"The team's been doing great and swinging the bats great," said Cubs starter Dan Haren. "Today wasn't the best day, but the bats have been there for the two weeks I've been here. I don't think anyone is really going to hang their heads -- just come out Tuesday and get back home and start winning again."