Cubs’ rally in 9th comes up short
CHICAGO – Darwin Barney thought he was capping his season debut with a classic ninth-inning at-bat – then Craig Gentry had to spoil it by making a great catch.
Derek Holland pitched seven shutout innings, Adrian Beltre hit a two-run home run, and Gentry made a diving catch in the ninth, robbing Barney, to end the game and preserve the Texas Rangers' 4-2 win over the Cubs on Tuesday night at cold Wrigley Field.
Holland (1-1) at one point retired nine straight Cubs, losers of three straight. The Rangers' left-hander struck out six and allowed two hits.
The Cubs scored twice with two outs in the ninth. Nate Schierholtz, pinch-hitting for Scott Hairston, doubled to left off the glove of a sliding Jeff Baker to drive in two runs. Texas closer Joe Nathan then hit Welington Castillo with a pitch to load the bases and put the winning run at first, but Gentry made a diving grab of Barney's liner and Nathan escaped with his fifth save in five tries.
Barney slammed his helmet to the ground after he saw Gentry come up with the catch.
"Those are the at-bats you step out and think how fun it is. I was thinking, 'This is why we play,' and all those crazy things, but unfortunately I got punched in the neck, that's what it felt like," Barney said. "Get a good piece, pray that it drops and it doesn't, that's part of the game. What a catch out there. Gosh, that ball gets behind him that's game over. That was a risky play and he made the play, hats off to him."
Barney was activated off the disabled list before game with a cut on his knee that he suffered in spring training that required five stitches.
"Those are the reasons why you like Barney in the lineup and you don't have to pinch-hit for him, you know he is going to give you everything he has in the at-bat," Cubs manager Dale Sveum. "It might not turn out the way you want it, but he is going to battle those fouls balls off and do everything he can to not strike out and put the ball in play. He ended up having a great at-bat against one of the best closers in the game."
Holland, who lost his previous start to Tampa Bay despite giving up two earned runs in eight innings, was just as good Tuesday. He didn't allow a Cubs runner to reach third until Alfonso Soriano got there on a wild pitch after doubling in the fourth.
Holland also got the most run support he has all season. Before Tuesday, he had gotten two runs of support while giving up four in 15 innings of work, but he still needed an outstanding catch by Gentry to get the win.
"It was amazing. The kid's a cat out there. He's fast and he tracks down everything," Holland said. "As soon as it went up all I was thinking is this guy's going to get it and there he was right there to get it for us. That's a pretty good catch. If he misses it, tie ballgame to even take the lead. Who knows what happens with where the ball goes or anything like that but it was a huge catch. There was a lot of momentum starting to build up on Chicago's side and we did our part to cool it."
Beltre's home run off Cubs reliever Shawn Camp was his second of the year and gave the Rangers a 4-0 lead in the eighth. Chicago starter Travis Wood (1-1) walked Ian Kinsler and was then relieved by Camp, who allowed Elvis Andrus to single to right before throwing a pickoff attempt away, allowing Kinsler to score and make it 2-0.
Baker, who was with the Cubs from 2009-2012, was 2 for 4 and had an RBI double in the fourth to give Texas a 1-0 lead. The Rangers had scored 11 runs in their previous five games.
Wood gave up two runs and struck out three in 7 1/3 innings.
Once again, conditions at Wrigley Field were less than optimal. The first-pitch temperature was 39 degrees with the wind blowing in from right field. A light rain also came and went during the fourth.
The weather didn't seem to bother either starter.
"He's really been locked in. He's been using all his pitches, been keeping the ball down, he's been moving it around the zone," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "The good thing about him he's been getting three outs. Derek usually has trouble getting that third one but he found a way to get it."
Like Holland, Wood has been plagued by poor run support. With Wood on the mound, the Cubs had scored two runs over two starts.
Camp's struggles continued for the Cubs. One outing after blowing a save Sunday against the San Francisco Giants, Camp pitched one-third of an inning and was charged with two runs.
Tuesday's game was also a reunion for the Rangers' catchers.
A.J. Pierzynski, who spent eight years with the Chicago White Sox, was greeted with loud boos before each of his at-bats. He went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. Backup Geovany Soto, who spent parts of six seasons with the Cubs and won the 2008 National League Rookie of the Year award, didn't play for Texas.
After Anthony Rizzo's infield single with two outs in the first, Holland retired nine straight Cubs until Soriano's two-out double in the fourth. The Cubs' left fielder was stranded at third when Hairston lined out to short.
NOTES: The teams observed a moment of silence before Tuesday's game for victims of the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday. ... Barney was 0 for 4. ... Every player on both teams wore number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. Neither team played Monday, the 66th anniversary of Robinson breaking the MLB color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. ... The expected pitching matchup Wednesday is the Rangers' Justin Grimm against the Cubs' Carlos Villanueva. ... Rangers OF David Murphy was given the night off by Washington. ... Injured Cubs starter Matt Garza is expected to make a rehab appearance for Class A Kane County on Friday.