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Starlin Castro on ‘last straw’ alert after forgetting outs

StarlCastro forced BrandBelt second then headed dugout — with two outs. | Marcio Jose Sanchez~AP

Starlin Castro forced Brandon Belt at second, then headed to the dugout — with two outs. | Marcio Jose Sanchez~AP

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Updated: July 7, 2012 8:36AM



SAN FRANCISCO — There had to be a breaking point for Cubs manager Dale Sveum.

It finally came Monday, and All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro is on “last straw’’ alert in the wake of a 3-2 loss Monday and four-game sweep at the hands of the San Francisco Giants.

With one out in the fifth inning, the Cubs leading by a run and the bases full of Giants, Brandon Crawford hit into a fielder’s choice at second base. Castro took the relay from Darwin Barney but didn’t attempt the throw to first for the double play.

Why?

Castro thought there were three outs, and he casually started jogging toward the dugout. It appeared that Crawford would have been safe anyway, but it was the second brain cramp for Castro in the series — and the last one Sveum wants to see.

“It’s something that’s obviously unacceptable at any time, whether we turned the double play or not,” Sveum said. “It’s not acceptable. Those things have to stop happening or he’s going to stop playing.

“Last straw. If he wants to play, he better get his head in the game, period.”

Sveum then compared it to a mistake his son’s high school team would make.

Some credit goes to Castro, who immediately apologized to his teammates while addressing the media after the game.

“It’s very embarrassing,’’ Castro said. “That can’t happen. I apologize to my team. That’s not supposed to happen.’’

“I’m very embarrassed to my teammates and everybody,’’ Castro added.

Castro was seen talking to starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija in the dugout after that inning. He said that he told Samardzija, “My bad.”

Samardzija, who got a no-decision, did his best to pitch around Castro’s mistake.

“What I take away from it as a pitcher is I can’t let the bases get loaded with no outs,” Samardzija said.

He didn’t pitch around the Cubs losing 11 consecutive road games.

“We need to get a little tougher on the road,” he said.

That has to start with hitting. On May 15, the Cubs touched St. Louis Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse for five runs in 62/3 innings in an eventual loss. Since then, they haven’t touched much of anything away from Wrigley Field.

In the 10 road games since May 15, opposing pitchers have allowed nine earned runs in 692/3 innings for a 1.16 ERA. Four of those starters had scoreless outings.

So when Sveum was asked about the attitude of his team with its record now 18-36, he was quick to point out that attitude isn’t the problem.

“The problem is winning baseball games and scoring runs,” Sveum said. “That’s the problem.”

As far as Castro goes, Sveum said that he already had a good talking-to.

It appears that the next talking-to he gets will cost him his starting job. That would give him plenty of time on the bench to figure out how many outs there are.



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