“Eventually I have to start doing my job, because it’s not fair to the teammates who work so hard,” Hernandez said quietly.
Nate Schierholtz’s two-out double in the top of the 12th inning off Hernandez drove in Anthony Rizzo from first base in the Chicago Cubs’ 7-6, 12-inning victory at Chase Field, an excruciating end to a game that seemed to be there for the D-backs’ taking after turning their way in the middle innings.
Hernandez walked Rizzo on a 3-1 pitch with two outs before Schierholtz, who had a career-high five RBI, drove a ball into left left-field corner for the game-winner. The ball took a little kick after hitting the wall, giving Rizzo just enough time to beat the throw home.
“Obviously you don’t want to walk guys at any point, but especially in extra innings,” Hernandez said. “Still had plenty of opportunities to make pitches. It was a tough one to lose, especially after we battled back.”
“I have to start making better pitches. The sooner the better.”
After the game, J.J. Putz offered words of encouragement to Hernandez on the bench, reminding him that every pitcher goes through down times in his career.
“You just have to keep working,” Hernandez said. “Plenty of games to go. Just have to turn it around.’
The bullpen has had its share of problems this season, but Wednesday was not one of them, even if Hernandez was willing to carry the weight.
Josh Collmenter, Will Harris, Brad Ziegler, Heath Bell and Hernandez gave up just one run in seven innings in relief of Ian Kennedy, who failed for the ninth straight time to get his fourth victory of the season.
Kennedy gave up six runs, two earned, in his five innings. Five of the six hits he gave up went for extra-bases, including Schierholtz’s three-run home run with two outs in the fifth inning that gave the Cubs a 6-0 lead.
From there, the D-backs’ bullpen went to work. The Cubs got two runners as far as second base only twice after the sixth inning, and one of those came when Darwin Barney’s routine grounder to third base hit the bag and caromed into left field for a double.
The D-backs’ offense could not build on its breakout, 10-4 victory over the Cubs on Tuesday, and that more than any pitch or two was the difference.
The D-backs loaded the bases four times but could score in only one of those innings — when an infield error on a potential double play ball permitted two runs to score in the fifth inning after the Cubs had jumped to a 6-0 lead.
Paul Goldschmidt’s three-run home run in the seventh inning made it a one-run game, and from their the D-backs were the aggressors.
The D-backs had the tying run on second base in the seventh inning and tied the game in the ninth inning when Goldschmidt walked, took third on Eric Chavez’s single and scored on Cody Ross’ sacrifice fly.
They were in position for their 22nd one-run victory, but the offense could not make it happen. They left the winning run on second in the ninth, loaded the bases without scoring in the 10th after Adam Eaton’s one-out double, and wasted Wil Nieves’ one-out double in the 11th.
A day after getting clutch two-out hits to beat the Cubs, the D-backs were 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position — the only hit being Goldschmidt’s 22nd homer just over the left-field fence.
“It stings” manager Kirk Gibson said. “We left a zillion guys on, and we were not really swinging at good pitches in those situations. That’s the tough part about it. You have to give the Cubs some credit. They made some good pitches on us. But we swung at a lot of balls out of the zone.