ATLANTA It was getting loud here on Tuesday night, the fans doing their tomahawk chop at Turner Field, and you could tell this would be a pivotal moment for Chris Volstad.
When the Cubs demoted Volstad to Triple-A Iowa in the middle of May, Dale Sveum sat with him in the managers office and talked about the confidence and body language you need at this level.
Volstad stands 6-foot-8, and had gotten the benefit of the doubt because hes a former first-round pick and still only 25 years old. But its been almost a full calendar year since hes won a game in the big leagues.
This time it all unraveled in the fifth inning of a 10-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves, moments after pitching coach Chris Bosio and his teammates had surrounded Volstad on the mound.
Given a 3-1 lead, Volstad loaded the bases before Michael Bourn sliced a three-run triple that stayed just inside the right-field line. Bourn scored on a sacrifice fly and moments later Jason Heyward hammered a ball over the center-field fence.
Sveum had seen enough and walked out there to take the ball back. Volstad lasted only 4 13 innings and gave up six runs on seven hits and two walks.
Volstad has now gone 20 starts without a win. During that time, hes posted a 5.68 ERA. The Cubs have lost each of the nine games hes started this season.
Atlanta is where Carlos Zambrano cleaned out his locker last August and the Cubs called his bluff on retirement.
When the new executives in charge at Clark and Addison traded Zambrano last winter, and transferred more than 15 million to the Miami Marlins, they highlighted Volstads upside and tried to frame it as more than just addition by subtraction.
Volstad whos making 2.655 million this season went 2-3 with a 4.44 ERA in eight starts at Iowa and hoped the time away from the spotlight would help him.
Now it looks like Volstad will get one more spot start in place of Ryan Dempster, on Sunday against the New York Mets, the final game before the All-Star break.
Volstads last win remains July 17, 2011, an anniversary he no doubt wants to avoid, but he appears to be running out of chances.