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Cubs waste another strong outing from Travis Wood in loss

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Travis Wood throws first inning baseball game against Seattle Mariners Friday June 28 2013 Seattle. (AP

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Travis Wood throws in the first inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Friday, June 28, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

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Updated: June 29, 2013 1:50AM

SEATTLE — Maybe it’s time to stop wondering when Travis Wood is going to return to earth and start penciling him into the Cubs’ long-term plans for the rotation — and a place in the All-Star Game in New York.

Already the top performer on the Cubs’ staff this season, Wood pitched into the seventh inning again with a lead against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

But the bullpen suffered its 15th blown save, stealing another victory from Wood in a game the Cubs lost 5-4 on rookie Mike Zunino’s walk-off single in the 10th.

It was the third time the bullpen blew the save in a would-be win for Wood, who allowed two runs and three hits in 6 1/3 innings. This time, James Russell gave up three extra-base hits and two runs in the eighth.

Players cast their All-Star ballots this weekend in the first part of the selection process that includes pitchers.

In his final start before those ballots are due, Wood gave up one run and three hits through six innings. He walked the leadoff man in the seventh and struck out the next batter before departing.

Carlos Villanueva allowed the inherited runner to score on a single and grounder.

Wood nonetheless took the major-league lead with 15 quality starts in 16 outings and maintained his staff-leading 2.85 ERA.

He had been tied for the major-league lead in quality starts with former Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, All-Star Adam Wainwright and emerging ace Patrick Corbin.

“Just lead all of baseball in quality starts is solidifying enough,” manager Dale Sveum said of Wood’s All-Star credentials. “He’s obviously had a couple of tough-luck outings. But other than that, he’s been as consistent as anybody in baseball.

“On a team that doesn’t have a lot of guys with great first halves, him and [right fielder Nate] Schierholtz are our top candidates for representing us in the All-Star Game.”

The Cubs built a 4-1 lead through six on big hits from Alfonso Soriano, Dioner Navarro and Ryan Sweeney.

Soriano, the designated hitter after sitting out the last two games, and Navarro, the backup catcher playing his second consecutive game because of a hot bat, homered in the seventh.

Soriano will be the Cubs’ primary DH during this six-game swing through Seattle and Oakland, Sveum said.

After his 2-for-4 game, his career numbers in 24 starts as a DH support that decision: 29-for-78 (.372) with eight homers, 21 RBI and a 1.134 OPS.

Navarro’s homer gave him eight for the season in part-time play. He also has two in as many games, along with four RBI.

The Mariners loaded the bases in the 10th on back-to-back walks by Blake Parker, followed by a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk.

Zunino then worked the count full against Shawn Camp before driving the game-winner up the middle.

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