Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer put the onus on adding pitching depth before MLB's July 31 non-waiver trade deadline when he met with the media before Friday's game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
But after a bullpen implosion that resulted in a 5-3 loss to the Phillies in front of 41,230 fans at Wrigley Field, the Cubs GM may have to act sooner rather than later.
Jason Motte suffered his first blown save as a member of the Cubs after allowing a Cody Asche RBI double in the top of the ninth inning, and veteran reliever Rafael Soriano allowed a game-winning two-run homer to Phillies outfielder Jeff Francoeur in the 10th inning in Friday's loss.
"Every loss stings," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We had an opportunity to win it. Motte has been fabulous. He has not been good, he has been fabulous. You grieve for 30 minutes and then you throw it in the trash can and you come back tomorrow. We still have a chance to win the series and that's where my mind is at right now."
Motte took the same approach as his skipper when reflecting on the loss.
"They all stink," Motte said. "It's one of those things where we were up, we were down, we battled back. It stinks but we have to come out, forget about it and play tomorrow."
The Cubs got in front early when Kris Bryant crushed his 13th homer of the season to right field, giving the North Siders a 1-0 lead in the third inning, but the Phillies would come fighting back in the top half of the fourth. Philadelphia picked up their only two runs off Cubs starter Jon Lester via an Asche two-out double, but their lead wouldn't last long.
With the Cubs trailing 2-1, Chris Coghlan deposited a Jerome Williams offering into the right field bleachers, also plating Jorge Soler who led off the inning with a single. It was the 10th home run of the season for the 30-year-old veteran outfielder, setting a new career-high.
Lester, who earned a no-decision after allowing just two runs on seven hits to go along with six strikeouts, settled in nicely after Coghlan's homer, retiring six of the the final seven batters he faced before handing over the lead to the Cubs bullpen for the final two innings.
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Hector Rondon took care of business in the eighth inning, giving up just one hit, when Maddon called on Motte for the ninth inning.
After retiring Ryan Howard to begin the ninth, Motte allowed a one-out triple to Freddy Galvis. Asche followed with his third RBI of the game on a ground-rule double to center, evening the game at 3-3. Motte retired the next two Phillies in order, limiting the damage to just one run.
It was another instance on Friday that the Phillies, who own the worst record in baseball at 35-63, showed no signs of a defeatist attitude.
"They're still big leaguers," Lester said. "They're still the best players on the planet. They are here for a reason. They haven't quit, obviously you saw that today. There's a lot of times where I've been on that side and you're the last place team.
"The last two and half months suck. They are the worst. You're in last place and it's hot. It seems like everything that can go wrong goes wrong. Your plane breaks down, your hotel room isn't ready or whatever. It all seems to come to a head.
"But we still have to play good baseball regardless of who you're playing. You kind of have to have that invisible opponent mentality of where they are in the standings. You have to take each day as 'we have to win today' and we played good baseball today and they just beat us at the end."
The Cubs threatened to push across the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth when Chris Denorfia lead off the inning with a pinch-hit single. Addison Russell then moved Denorfia into scoring position with a groundout and Phillies reliever Ken Giles walked Dexter Flower with one out, setting up the stage for the Cubs Core. But Giles managed to strikeout Bryant and retire Anthony Rizzo on a groundout, sending the game into extras for Francoeur's heroics.
Rumored Cubs trade target, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, earned his 17th save of the season in Philadelphia's victory.