Cubs offense falters in sixth straight loss

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Cubs offense falters in sixth straight loss

SAN DIEGO -- Eric Stults and four relievers combined on a five-hitter, leading the San Diego Padres to a 2-0 win over the slumping Chicago Cubs on Monday night.Stults (2-2) allowed five hits as he pitched 5 1-3 innings in his first start since June 3. He struck out five, walked two and had a wild pitch.Yonder Alonso and Everth Cabrera each drove in a run and the Padres won for just the fourth time in 10 games. Chicago lost its sixth straight.Brad Brach, Dale Thayer, Luke Gregerson and Huston Street combined for 3 2-3 innings of no-hit relief, finished San Diego's seventh shutout.Street pitched the ninth for his 19th save.Carlos Quentin reached on a one-out double in the fourth inning and scored on Alonso's single. After Cameron Maybin followed with a double, Alonso scored when Cabrera's soft liner deflected off the glove of Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney for an infield single.Chicago was not able to take advantage of the few scoring chances it had, going 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and stranding seven runners overall.Travis Wood (4-8) allowed two runs on five hits over six innings. The lefty struck out three and walked three with a wild pitch.The Cubs' two prized prospects - Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters - both started and had tough nights.Jackson, who got two hits in his major league debut Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, struck out four times. Vitters, who also debuted Sunday as a pinch hitter, was 0 for 4, including a groundout to end the sixth inning with runners at second and third.Since his last start, Stults spent time on the disabled list with a strained left lat and made his last four appearances out of the bullpen. He was inserted into the rotation after Kip Wells was designated for assignment on Friday.NOTES:
Cubs RHP Matt Garza (right elbow stress) was placed on the 15-day DL and will be out "indefinitely," according to GM Jed Hoyer. . San Diego has won eight times in its last 10 home games. . Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo made his return to San Diego for the first time since the Padres dealt him to Chicago for RHP Andrew Cashner in a four-player deal in January. Rizzo, who went 0 for 4, was the centerpiece for San Diego in the four-player deal when he was acquired from Boston for 1B Adrian Gonzalez before the 2011 season. But after his highly anticipated arrival in San Diego in June 2011, the lefty hit just .141 with one home run and nine RBIs in 128 at-bats. Asked before the game if spacious Petco Park had anything to do with his poor offensive showing, Rizzo said, "The ballpark could have been a T-ball field and I wouldn't have hit the ball. I just wasn't hitting the ball." . Cubs LHP Brooks Raley will make his major league debut on Tuesday night against LHP Ross Ohlendorf (3-2, 6.27 ERA).
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Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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