D-backs stung after sticking with Walker in 6th

D-backs stung after sticking with Walker in 6th

PHOENIX -- D-backs manager Torey Lovullo was faced with a tough decision in the fifth inning of Arizona's 8-3 loss to the Cubs at Chase Field on Friday night, and the choice he made ultimately backfired.

With Arizona trailing, 3-0, entering the bottom of the fifth, Chris Herrmann hustled out an infield single with one out. Lovullo elected to leave starting pitcher Taijuan Walker in the game to sacrifice bunt, rather than send out a pinch-hitter and turn the game over to his bullpen.

With Walker's pitch count at 100 when he stepped to the on-deck circle, Lovullo thought it was his best bet to leave the ball in the hand of his starter with Chicago's 5-6-7 hitters due up in the sixth.

Walker struck out when he attempted to bunt with two strikes, and while David Peralta would hit a two-run homer to cut the deficit to one run, the Cubs quickly answered, as Kyle Schwarber and Alex Avila hit back-to-back homers off of Walker in the next inning to push the lead to 5-2.

"I think second-guessing is human nature," Lovullo said. "I think it's all a part of us. The one thing that I keep going back to that's always common denominator is that these guys know how to get those outs; they've done it. I believe in them, I trust them, they've developed that and they've earned that."

Schwarber led off the sixth with a homer to dead-center that Statcast™ tracked at 449 feet. Five pitches later, Avila launched a homer to almost the exact same spot that was tracked at 443 feet, and that was it for Walker.

"I felt good, I felt strong, I felt confident," Walker said. "Both of those guys, I had either 1-2 or 2-2, and with Schwarber I just missed my spot. I just felt like every time I missed my spot they definitely made it hurt."

Walker's second barehanded play

The Cubs capitalized on a pair of walks and a passed ball from Walker with two runs in the first inning, and added another one in the second. He didn't allow a hit from the second inning to the fifth, but he had needed 33 pitches to get through the first.

The D-backs' bullpen was short on available arms after Arizona had used at least three relievers in each of the last three games during a home series with the Dodgers.

"We were a little bit thin in the bullpen," Lovullo said. "I felt like [Walker] had a little rhythm. He had given up those early runs and things weren't working for him early on. He had shown me that he was getting some outs and making pitches and he deserved to go out, even though they weren't favorable matchups. He's got stuff that can handle lefties and righties and I felt like that part of the order he could make some pitches and get through that inning. It didn't happen and I think that was the big difference in the game."

Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.