Developing Cubs stumble in San Diego

Developing Cubs stumble in San Diego

Developing Cubs stumble in San Diego
SAN DIEGO -- Sunday was a good day for the young Cubs. Monday was a little more humbling.

Yonder Alonso and Everth Cabrera each hit RBI singles to lift the Padres to a 2-0 victory over Travis Wood and the Cubs, who lost their sixth straight.

Five of the players in the Cubs' starting lineup began the season at Triple-A Iowa, including Wood (4-8). Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters will be the focus for the final 50-plus games, and they experienced some ups and downs. Jackson struck out four times, while Vitters made a tremendous stop on the first ball hit to him at third base.

"It was kind of a reverse day for the kids today, obviously," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "But that's what they're here for, to develop and see this kind of pitching and make those adjustments that you have to make."

Wood lost his fifth in a row, giving up five hits over six innings. On the plus side, it was his first quality start since July 6, when he recorded his last win.

"He's going to have some hiccups in the road, as he's still developing other stuff," Sveum said of the left-hander. "He did a nice job. We had a hard time manufacturing any runs."

Chicago has been outscored, 31-12, in the last six games, while getting shut out twice.

"Even though today was another grind, and I was behind a lot of hitters, but fortunately I was able to pitch out of a lot of stuff," Wood said. "The defense made some great plays behind me and we just came up a bit short tonight."

Anthony Rizzo, making his return to San Diego after a disappointing 49-game stint with the Padres last year, went 0-for-4. He's another one going through growing pains.

"We're a very young team," Wood said, "but I think we can use that to our favor. We're energetic. We've got fire and everything. We've got to start playing and just get after it."

Eric Stults (2-2), acquired off waivers from the White Sox in May, gave up five hits over 5 1/3 innings, and the Cubs now are 12-20 against left-handed starters.

The Padres got all the runs they needed in the fourth. With one out, Carlos Quentin doubled and scored on Alonso's single. Cameron Maybin then doubled and Alonso tallied on Cabrera's seeing eye single up the middle past a diving Darwin Barney.

It was a tough night for Jackson, who struck out 158 times at Iowa this season.

"Basically it came down to swinging at strikes," Sveum said. "I don't care who you are, if you don't swing at strikes, you'll have a tough time. When he got two strikes on him, he couldn't lay off pitches that were quite a bit out of the zone."

The Cubs may have to live with the outfielder's free-swinging style.

"He's going to be in [the lineup]," Sveum said. "That was part of the deal, that he's going to be here to develop and we'll see what we see and make adjustments and go from there. Bottom line: [It] doesn't matter unless you're swinging at strikes."

Jackson knows it, too.

"It's something I'm working on cutting down, and like I said yesterday, I'll keep working with [hitting coach James Rowson] and Dale and keep improving my swing," Jackson said. "There's no doubt in my mind we'll get the ability out of me."

It's only been two games, but does he notice any difference in big league pitching?

"No," Jackson said. "Obviously, the guys tonight had good stuff and made some good pitches, and I chased some pitches that I shouldn't have chased. I think when it comes to striking out, a lot of that has to do with me chasing pitches that I don't need to swing at, and missing pitches I do swing at. That's something I'll figure out. It's baseball, and I'm going to keep improving as a player until I can't improve any more."

The knock on Vitters has been his defense, but he impressed Sveum with his stop of Maybin's ball in the sixth.

"It was a big play at the time, too," Sveum said. "It was nice, for his only ground ball, to make the play."

"It was outstanding to make that play and then to come up and make a good throw," Wood said. "Vitters has got a great arm. He made that play and that was awesome."

With Rizzo, Jackson and Vitters, plus left-hander Brooks Raley scheduled to make his Major League debut on Tuesday, the focus for the Cubs now is developing their talent.

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.