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Hammel hits snag in sixth, Cubs fall 4-3 to Padres

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Updated: May 25, 2014 10:18PM



SAN DIEGO — On a day the Cubs were in California to play the Padres, it was all about the Red Sox and Yankees.

Sunday started with the surreal announcement that the Cubs had hired controversial ex-Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez to mentor their young hitters — and, oh, by the way, the Cubs finished the afternoon by losing to the Padres 4-3 and settling for a split in the four-game series.

And you can blame that last part on the Yankees. It was in his previous start at home Tuesday against New York that Jason Hammel suffered a bone bruise on the back of his pitching hand when struck by a comebacker in the first inning.

Hammel continued to pitch and beat the Yankees that night. He received treatment the next four days before pushing through what looked like another strong start until the still-puffy hand started affecting his command in the sixth inning.

“I’ve still got to throw strikes there,” said Hammel, whose 1-0 lead disappeared in a series of walks and deep counts as the Padres scored four runs in the inning. “It was just fatigue, where I lost the feel. . . . I’m not going to make that excuse, though. I’ve still got to find a way to throw strikes.”

Hammel (5-3) has been one of the Cubs’ best pitchers. Although he expects the bruise to linger, he doesn’t expect it to force him to skip a start.

Notes

Rehabbing outfielder Justin Ruggiano (hamstring) played another full game Sunday for Class AAA Iowa after a day off, and the Cubs say he might return from the disabled list this week.

◆ Top prospect Javy Baez’s response to Ramirez’s hiring as a player-coach for Iowa? He hit a grand slam for the I-Cubs in a victory. Baez had been slumping until the last 10 games, in which he’s 16-for-41 (.390) with six doubles, four homers, two walks, 11 RBI and a 1.238 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

◆ After allowing the lowest-scoring team in the National League 17 runs the last three games, the Cubs head to San Francisco to face a first-place team for the fourth time in six series (before another against the NL Central-leading Brewers). The Giants have won 21 of their last 29.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

Twitter: @GDubCub



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