PHOENIX -- The prevailing thought when the Chicago Cubs dropped two consecutive games in April to the Arizona Diamondbacks was that the losses saved the jobs of general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson.
The thought now after the Cubs pitching staff faltered in the middle innings for the second consecutive game to start the second half, is the club desperately is in need of a pitching preserver.
That became more evident Saturday night after a 9-3 loss to the D'backs at Chase Field in which the control problems of left-hander Travis Wood persisted.
With the loss, the Cubs (40-56) now have lost 10 of their last 12 games since rotation mainstays Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel were traded to the Athletics.
And Wood, whom the Cubs needed to step up to fill the void, is 0-3 with an 8.10 ERA in three starts since the July 4 trade.
"Once we lost Hammel and Jeff, it's a big gap to fill," Wood said. "I really want to give you seven or eight innings and be as strong as I can every time and fill that void. So far, it hasn't been happening. I promise you we'll get there."
Wood failed to hold a 3-1 lead, and two walks in the fifth set up Miguel Montero's three-run double that gave the Diamondbacks the lead for good in front of several scouts that included four representatives from the White Sox and Tigers.
Wood was victimized by two errors as well as a questionable decision by catcher Wellington Castillo, who threw late to third base on a play that led to two runs in the sixth.
The Cubs' pitching staff has allowed 11 runs in the fifth and sixth innings of their past two games.
"We had a lot of little things go on that didn't go our way," manager Rick Renteria said. "And it was evident."
Renteria was involved in what he described as a "very unorthodox, but not illegal" move while making a double switch in the sixth. Renteria said he grabbed the dugout rail after slipping, and then signaled for the move before talking to home plate umpire Jim Joyce.
"As I continued to talk to (Joyce), I lost track of the fact I left my pitcher (Wood) out there and quite frankly never made the trip (to the mound)," Renteria said.
Gibson was told the move wasn't illegal.
The only measure of redemption came from shortstop Starlin Castro, who had two singles after going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in Friday's 5-4 loss.
"Friday, I saw only one pitch for a strike, and I made three outs by myself," Castro said before the game. "And that's the kind of thing that makes you an easy out. Now I know they're trying to get me to get myself out by chasing those pitches.
"And it's not going to happen anymore. I'm going to see more pitches and take my walks."
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