Cubs' rally not enough to erase Volstad's woes

Cubs' rally not enough to erase Volstad's woes

Cubs' rally not enough to erase Volstad's woes
CHICAGO -- Chris Volstad hasn't won a game since July 10, and on Thursday, he didn't last long enough to get a chance.

Carlos Ruiz had four hits and three RBIs to back Roy Halladay and lead the Phillies to an 8-7 victory over the Cubs and complete a sweep of the two-game set.

Volstad (0-6), winless in his last 19 starts, gave up four runs on six hits over two innings. It was his shortest outing since Aug. 28, 2009, when he lasted 1 2/3 innings against the Padres. The right-hander threw 58 pitches in two innings. Compare that to Halladay, who threw 16 pitches in his first two innings.

"Just pitching down in the strike zone on a consistent basis is something we've talked about," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said about what they wanted from Volstad. "He's a sinkerballer who has to keep the ball down in the strike zone and not worry about corners and painting the outside corner or painting the inside corner."

That didn't happen, and Sveum said he'll talk to Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, and general manager Jed Hoyer to discuss what's next for Volstad.

"We'll see what our options are and go from there," Sveum said.

Casey Coleman, who pitched four innings in relief on Thursday, is one choice to take Volstad's spot in the rotation, as is lefty Travis Wood, who started Thursday for Triple-A Iowa and picked up the win, giving up two runs on five hits over seven innings. What does Volstad do next?

"That's a good question," Volstad said. "We've been trying a lot of different things. I've just got to keep working. There's no giving up, no quit. It's just going to get better. We'll try everything."

Volstad cruised through Spring Training, his first with the Cubs after being acquired from the Marlins for Carlos Zambrano. He said he's not putting pressure on himself.

"Whatever is going on, I try to go out and pitch and win the game, and I just haven't been able to do that," he said.

Volstad now has given up 62 earned runs in 103 1/3 innings since his last win for a 5.40 ERA. Does he anticipate a change?

"I don't know how you want me to answer that kind of question," Volstad said. "I'm working and pitching and trying to show them I deserve to be in the rotation. It's up to them."

"I know what it's like," Coleman said. "Last year, I struggled quite a bit. [Volstad] wants to do so well, and he's very capable of doing well here. He showed that in Spring Training. He'll figure it out the next start. He's a really good pitcher, and it's just taking a little time."

The Cubs did rally. Welington Castillo, who hit a solo homer in the eighth, laced a three-run double in the ninth with two-outs against Phillies rookie lefty Jake Diekman. Jonathan Papelbon relieved Diekman and served up an RBI single to Darwin Barney before getting Reed Johnson to ground out to end the game.

"Welington ended up having a great eighth and ninth inning there," Sveum said of the backup catcher who started in place of Geovany Soto, scratched because of inflammation in his left knee. "We were one swing away from tying or winning the game."

Halladay (4-3) was effective. The Phillies had lost the right-hander's past five starts, but on Thursday, he struck out four and gave up seven hits over eight innings.

Halladay could understand what Volstad is going through.

"It's a tough situation as a pitcher when you're getting in a slump like that, but that's a challenge of the game," Halladay said. "It's tough to keep your focus on what it should be. You hate to see it if that guy is on your team or if it's you. Not to be callous, but when you're playing those guys you'll try to take advantage of it."

The Phillies did just that. Ruiz hit a two-out RBI single in the first and Shane Victorino hit a run-scoring groundout in the second followed by Hunter Pence's two-run single to open a 4-1 lead.

"It wasn't much fun," Sveum said of Volstad's outing. "There's no life, no command, and really none of his pitches -- he couldn't keep the ball down, couldn't keep it in. It was not a real good outing at all for the situation we're in."

Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly in the Cubs first and a leadoff homer in the seventh, his second. He's been consistent. Volstad hasn't. It's not as if he hasn't won before; he was 12-9 in 2010 with the Marlins.

"I think I'm trying too hard, trying to do different things, just a lot of forcing instead of just letting my ability take over," Volstad said. "I know it's in there; it's just a matter of tapping into it and finding it at this point and working to get that.

"I've done it before," he said. "I've thrown beautiful games in the big leagues before. It's in there. You've got to tap into it."

Whether he'll get another chance is to be determined.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.