Cubs, Silva close first half with thud in LA
Starter struggles before ejection; offense held to four hits
LOS ANGELES -- Carlos Silva was questionable for Sunday's game because of a sore right calf. There was nothing wrong with his eyesight.
Silva was ejected after arguing a call at first base, but that was the most offense the Cubs could muster in a 7-0 loss Sunday night to the Los Angeles Dodgers, ending the first half at 39-50. The highlight of this game may have been the maturation of Andrew Cashner. More on that later.
"The break always comes at a good time," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
They completed their road trip 5-3 and will have three days to figure out how to get back in the National League Central race. The Cubs are 9 1/2 games behind the Cincinnati Reds.
"Anything can happen," Piniella said. "You just have to keep playing, and there's enough time. That's what we cling to, nothing more, nothing less."
Vicente Padilla (4-2) held the Cubs hitless until Starlin Castro doubled to lead off the sixth. Padilla walked one and his pitches registered from 54 mph to 94 mph on the Dodger Stadium radar gun. He created a little ruckus himself when he plunked former teammate Marlon Byrd on the arm in the seventh. Apparently, Padilla and Byrd have some history, and the Cubs' center fielder slowly walked to first after getting hit by the pitch.
"When a guy's throwing a two-hit shutout and he's pinpoint all day long, and you get hit with a four-seamer, you have to question it sometimes," Byrd said. "That's why I looked at him and smiled. Whether he did it or not, you have to ask him."
So, no bad blood?
"We were teammates, we were friends," Byrd said. "If he did it or not, that's all on him. You have to question it when a guy's hitting his spots all day long."
Padilla said he didn't know why Byrd reacted the way he did. Did they get along?
"Yes, yes," Padilla said.
In the Dodgers' eighth, Cashner hit leadoff man Blake DeWitt with a pitch and both benches were issued a warning. Dodgers manager Joe Torre felt that was payback.
"I think so, yeah," Torre said, "because I think a guy who didn't throw as hard was throwing in the bullpen [in Justin Berg] and they changed to a guy who throws. Pretty good indication that that was going to be the case, yeah."
Said DeWitt: "I knew that it was [on purpose]. That's part of it, that's baseball."
Cashner pleaded innocent. He said the pitch got away from him.
"He's a great teammate," Byrd said of the rookie right-hander. "You have to love him. He had pinpoint accuracy, too."
OK, back to Silva. In the Dodgers' first, James Loney hit a three-run homer with one out. That didn't help Silva's mood. In the second, the Dodgers loaded the bases and Matt Kemp hit a sacrifice fly. Andre Ethier was intentionally walked and Loney hit a grounder to first baseman Xavier Nady, who retrieved the ball and appeared to beat Loney to the bag. But first-base umpire Brian Runge called Loney safe and another run scored.
Silva threw up his arms in disgust, said the magic words and Runge tossed him. The Cubs right-hander was questionable for Sunday's game because of some discomfort in his right calf. He departed after throwing 40 pitches. Rookie Mitch Atkins took over and struck out Casey Blake but walked Xavier Paul to force in another run as the Dodgers made it 6-0.
"This crew here, I don't think I want to see them the rest of the year," said Piniella, who was ejected Saturday by umpire Jerry Layne, also because of a call at first. "I usually don't complain about umpires, but we never got a call all weekend."
Silva apparently had an early flight because he wasn't around after the game to tell his side of the story.
"We saw the guy out at first base," Piniella said. "That was the main complaint. Silva said something to the umpire and the umpire kicked him out of the ballgame."
Silva (9-3) was charged with six runs on six hits and three walks in 1 1/3 innings. After winning his first eight decisions, Silva now is 1-3 in his last six starts.
"He's a strike thrower, he challenges guys with his fastball," Cubs catcher Geovany Soto said. "It didn't look characteristic of him. It happens -- you have bad games once in a while."
Silva never complained about his leg.
"He kept saying, 'I'm fine, I'm fine,'" Soto said. "He's a warrior and he wants to go out there."
Piniella had another discussion with Runge about a call at first in the eighth as Castro appeared to be safe as Loney was off the bag in fielding Padilla's throw. Runge won that one, too.
It's a good time for a three-day respite.
"We played well in Arizona and here we didn't play well," Nady said. "It's a sour taste in your mouth going into the break. Hopefully guys get a couple days to mentally clear their minds."
Next up: the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday at Wrigley Field.
"We have to go home, get ready and try to put a streak together early," Byrd said. "We can't waste any time -- it's time to put it in gear."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.