Cubs

Missed opportunities plague Bears again

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Missed opportunities plague Bears again

The Packers backward pass when they received a Bears fourth-quarter punt looked like something out of a comedy sketch. The Bears, surprised as anyone, were attentive enough to recover the fumble created by said screwy play, on Green Bays 16-yard line.

Down 21-10 at the time, the Bears had a golden opportunity to get a touchdown and put the squeeze on the Packers. But much like a third-quarter drive where the Bears couldnt capitalize big on Packers' miscues, they couldnt do it this time, either.

The Bears offensive issues were magnified on two second-half drives in a 21-13 loss to Green Bay. On the third-quarter one, back-to-back Packers penalties set the Bears up at Green Bays 5-yard line. But after Matt Forte gained four yards on first-and-goal, the Bears were stalled and had to settle for an Olindo Mare 34-yard field goal.

On the goal line, the offensive line has got to get movement. I looked for a hole and try to hit it, said Forte, who was stopped on second and third downs for no gain. There are going to be unblocked players. My deal is I have to slam it up in there. Thats what I was doing. You have to give them credit, too. They played tough defense on the goal line.

Right tackle Jonathan Scott said, somewhere, it wasnt 11 people working in unison. Im not saying thats what the reason was. But usually when we all work in unison, good things happen.

And while the Bears have been banged up and rotating different players at different spots on the offensive line, Scott said thats not an issue.

We work well together, we talk, we communicate, Scott said. They have faith in all seven linemen, and all seven linemen have to be accountable.

But the Bears got the chance to make amends. Flash forward to that bizarre Packers special-teams call in the fourth quarter. Not only did the Bears fail to get a touchdown starting at Green Bays 16, they didnt even gain a yard.

Thats another opportunity weve got to take advantage of, said quarterback Jay Cutler, who was surprised at the Packers pass. To get a ball like that, when the score is 21-10, those things dont happen often. To get a turnover was a great job by special teams. For us not to take advantage of that kind of opportunity is another reason you lose football games.

Not that the Bears were alone. Twice, the Packers couldve extended their lead on Sunday. Beleaguered kicker Mason Crosbys frustrating season continued, however, as he missed 43- and 42-yard field goals. Hes now 17-of-29 for the season. Didnt matter: Aaron Rodgers three touchdown passes to James Jones were eventually enough.

The Bears offense has had its struggles all season. But not getting the optimum number of points on those two drives, in this big of a game, against their division rival, was incredibly costly.

It hurts, coach Lovie Smith said. It was a one-score game at the end. We had excellent field position. Youve got to capitalize and thats the case most of the time. You cant rely on field goals in those situations. We need to get touchdowns.

Joe Maddon goes after Sean Doolittle's delivery: ‘That's exactly what I was told Carl can't do’

Joe Maddon goes after Sean Doolittle's delivery: ‘That's exactly what I was told Carl can't do’

The Cubs finished Saturday's loss at the Nationals under protest after Joe Maddon saw what he believed to be an inconsistency in how illegal pitches are being called.

Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle came in to close the game out in the ninth with the Nats up 5-2. After one pitch, Maddon went to the umpires to complain. This dragged on throughout the inning.

Maddon didn't like that Doolittle's delivery involved him pausing and potentially even touching the ground in the middle of his wind up before coming home with the pitch. To Maddon, it was clearly an illegal pitch and he was fired up because that's something Carl Edwards Jr. got called for earlier in the season. By comparison, Edwards' version may be more deliberate, but Maddon thinks it is the same thing.

"That's exactly what I was told Carl can't do," Maddon said postgame in a video posted by ESPN's Jesse Rogers. "There's no judgment. If he taps the ground, it's an illegal pitch, period. There's nothing to judge. You can judge whether he did or not. It's obvious that he did, or if you can't tell that then there's something absolutely wrong."

Maddon and the Cubs protested the game as a result. If they win the protest, the game would be restarted with one out in the ninth, when Maddon notified the umpires of the protest.

Doolittle was less than amused by Maddon's protest.

"I have no qualms against Doolittle," Maddon said. "He's great, but they took it away from our guy so for me to sit in the dugout and permit that to happen while they stripped us of that ability earlier this year with Carl, how could I do that? You can't do that. I got to say something."

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Jon Lester's hot streak comes to an end at Nationals

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USA TODAY

Jon Lester's hot streak comes to an end at Nationals

Jon Lester was on a heck of a run since coming off the IL in late April, but it came to a screeching halt on Saturday.

Lester had by far his worst start of the season at the Nationals in a 5-2 Cubs loss. He labored through his start, giving up five runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Lester gave up 10 hits, which matches the most he has given up since joining the Cubs. He gave up a fair number of hits in his last two starts, but was able to avoid trouble on the scoreboard. Lester gave up nine hits in 6 2/3 innings against the Brewers last time out, but only gave up an unearned run. On May 7, Lester gave up eight hits to the Marlins, but only allowed two unearned runs in six innings of work.

This time, Lester couldn’t stay out of trouble. Brian Dozier got the Nats on the board with a solo shot in the second and then the wheels came off in the third.

To open the third inning Lester gave up six straight hits. The Nats got three runs that inning and then added another in the fifth, when Lester departed the game.

Since Lester came off the IL on April 25, he had allowed just one earned run (four runs in total) in 24 2/3 innings. During that stretch, he had 25 strikeouts against just two walks. His ERA fell to 1.16, which would have led all of baseball if he had enough innings to qualify. It’s at 2.09 after Saturday’s loss.

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