CHICAGO — Baserunners aplenty, the Chicago Cubs couldn’t get ‘em home. With numerous scoring opportunities Friday, they were foiled by three double plays and left eight on base in a 5-4 loss to open a nine-game homestand.
“It was obviously a very frustrating day for everybody,’’ manager Mike Quade said. Chicago entered the game with just a .217 team average with runners in scoring position and the trend continued.
“It ain’t good, but it’s far from hopeless, man,’’ Quade said. “We just keep creating a bunch of opportunities and someone eventually will — hopefully many eventually will — get hot and we’ll start driving people in. ... We’re setting the table, we just got to have somebody clean the thing off, that’s all.’’
The Cubs had the bases loaded twice and managed just one run in those situations.
Chicago starter Matt Garza, the team’s major offseason acquisition, gave up six hits and five runs, the big blow a three-run homer from Jay Bruce.
“I felt like it was going to be a good day,’’ said Garza (1-4), who has one win in seven starts and none in four outings at Wrigley Field.
“They did a great job of just extending innings. In that fourth inning (Joey) Votto puts his bat out there and hits the ball up the middle. And then (Brandon) Phillips the same thing, just throws his hands out, a seeing-eye single through the right side. Just bear with it and go with it.’’
Chicago scored a run and had the bases loaded with no outs in the sixth before reliever Sam LeCure retired the top three batters in the Cubs’ lineup to foil a big inning.
Francisco Cordero pitched the ninth for his fifth save in as many chances, catching Darwin Barney’s liner through the box and doubling off Kosuke Fukudome, who’d led off with a walk.
“That line drive back to the pitcher is a tough one,’’ Quade said. “When you are not scoring runs it’s magnified times 10. We have no margin for error.’’
Bruce’s seventh homer of the season was a high drive into the right-field bleachers with the wind blowing out and gave the Reds the lead for good in the fourth at 3-1. It was the first homer surrendered by Garza this season and scored Edgar Renteria and Votto.
“A hanging slider is what it is,’’ Garza said. “If I did my job and put up zeros like I should have, we’re sitting here telling a different story. I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain.’’
The Reds added on in the top of the fifth on two-out RBI singles by Votto and Phillips. Paul Janish started the inning with a hustling double after his hard grounder went off shortstop Starlin Castro’s glove. With two outs and Janish at third, Garza walked Renteria before Votto and Phillips delivered to make it 5-2.
Barney, Castro and Aramis Ramirez reached Edinson Volquez for consecutive one-out singles to make it 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth, but the inning fizzled when Phillips made a nice grab of Alfonso Soriano’s sinking liner and flipped to Renteria to double off Castro.
“Not sure we didn’t get a bad break there,’’ Quade said. Replays showed it was a very close play and Castro’s expression revealed that he thought he was back in time.
Geovany Soto greeted LeCure with an RBI single in the sixth, cutting it to 5-4. LeCure then hit pinch-hitter Reed Johnson to load the bases before striking out Fukudome, retiring Barney on a popup and getting Castro on a bouncer to short.
The Cubs also loaded the bases in fourth but scored once on Soto’s double-play grounder.
“We’re just kind of floating right now,’’ Garza said when asked about the Cubs’ offense. “We’re going to kick it in high gear and it will be a lot of fun to watch.’’
Garza contributed offensively Friday with his first major league hit that led the Cubs’ first run.
Garza was 0 for 25 in his career, including 0 for 14 this season, before hitting a a sharp single to center that set up the Cubs’ first run in the third.
“It felt good. Till now,’’ Garza said.
After the hit, Fukudome then grounded to first baseman Votto, whose throw to second was dropped by Renteria for an error. Phillips then made a great play behind second, flagging down Barney’s hopper and flipping the ball behind his back to Renteria — while still on the ground — for the force out.
“One thing we can’t do is start changing a bunch of stuff and panicking,’’ Quade said. “We just have to find a way to relax and maybe be a little more patient to get good pitches to hit in situations.’’
Notes: Castro is 2 for 21 over his last five games. He flied out to end the game. ... LeCure made his second straight relief appearance after four starts.