(BaseballStL) -- Back in his familiar starter role, Jake Westbrook struggled out of the gate in a 7-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
Westbrook, who has battled command issues this season, walked the first three batters of the game before Nate Schierholtz hit a two-run single center field. Donnie Murphy followed it with a two-out RBI single to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead in the first frame. Westbrook threw 30 total pitches, half of them were strikes.
He needed only 44 pitches to get through the next three scoreless innings before running into trouble again in the fifth. After allowing a leadoff single to David DeJesus, Anthony Rizzo singled with one out which was followed by a sacrifice fly hit by Schierholtz for a 4-0 lead.
The Cubs got to Westbrook again in the sixth inning for two runs scored. Darwin Barney hit an RBI double to left field to score Donnie Murphy from first base on a play at the plate. Catcher Rob Johnson wasn’t able to handle the relay throw, which short-hopped, from Daniel Descalso. Cubs starter Jake Arrieta laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Barney from third base in the next at-bat for a 6-0 lead.
Westbrook was relieved after allowing two runners on with one out in the seventh inning and 124 pitches thrown, 72 for strikes. It was the highest pitch count in Westbrook’s 13-year career. He would be charged with another run earned after reliever Sam Freeman threw a wild pitch to score Rizzo from third base.
His final stat line: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 5 BB (1 IBB), 2 SO
It was Westbrook’s first start since throwing 108 pitches over 4.2 innings of relief in a 13-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 7. Westbrook entered the game in the second inning after Shelby Miller was struck by a ball on his throwing elbow on his second pitch thrown in the first inning.
Westbrook has struggled to find command in his recent outings, including issuing five walks in a 8-3 loss to the Reds in Cincinnati on August 3. He walked two batters in last week’s relief outing, but has issued three or more walks in five of his last six starts.
He walked five batters in Friday’s loss, including an intentional walk to Darwin Barney, and went to three-ball counts to 10 of the 32 batters faced.