Most of the Cubs relaxed in front of the clubhouse TV on Saturday morning, watching a bunch of Japanese kids emulate major-leaguers in the Little League World Series.
The Cubs followed up by emulating the Bad News Bears in a 13-2 loss to Arizona, their most lopsided loss of the season.
Shawn Estes and Antonio Alfonseca combined to give up all 13 runs during a four-inning stretch against the Diamondbacks, who entered the day with the league's 12th-ranked offense in terms of runs scored.
With Houston losing 3-1 to Cincinnati and St. Louis beating Philadelphia 5-3, the Cubs trail the Central Division co-leaders by one-half game.
After being skipped over in the rotation during the Houston series, Estes (7-10) had a chance to make a statement with his first outing in 10 days. But the enigmatic left-hander allowed seven runs on nine hits in 41/3 innings, increasing his NL-worst earned-run average to 5.71.
He has allowed more baserunners per nine innings (15.9) than any NL pitcher, and opposing hitters have a .307 average against him, the league's third-worst mark.
Manager Dusty Baker insisted Estes' "stuff" was as good Saturday as it has been all year.
"The balls they hit that were at us [Friday night], today they found holes," Baker said.
Estes also believed his numbers were deceiving. He allowed only two hits until the fourth, when things began to unravel.
"My last four starts before today, when I started throwing my slider, the numbers were really good and I kept the team in the game," Estes said. "I pitched against some good teams and had some success against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks and Astros. Today the results weren't there. I don't know what to say. I'm at a loss, really."
Asked if he thought he threw the ball well, Estes replied, "I was throwing, so that's how I felt."
Estes has a 9.57 ERA in his 10 losses and a 2.09 ERA in his seven victories. He's 1-5 in his last 12 starts with a 6.39 ERA and is scheduled to pitch again Friday against Milwaukee at Wrigley Field.
With another off day Monday, will Baker skip his fifth starter again?
"I don't know, man," Baker said. "You guys have all that time to pencil stuff in. We haven't talked about it yet. He threw the ball as good as he's thrown the ball. They found some holes there."
Estes, Paul Bako and Kenny Lofton were all at fault in a gift run that started the Diamondbacks' scoring binge in the third inning. Though Bako managed to block Estes' wild pitch, he then threw the ball into center field while trying to nab Alex Cintron at second. But Lofton muffed the pickup for an error, allowing Cintron to score easily.
"I've never seen that before," Baker said. "Seems like anything that ever happens, it happens to Shawn."
Estes served up three doubles in the Diamondbacks' three-run fourth to make it 4-0 and was chased in the fifth after giving up a single, a double and a walk.
Alfonseca, who had a 1.83 ERA over his previous 14 outings, reverted to his old form Saturday. He gave up hits to five of the first seven batters he faced, watching his ERA soar to 5.47.
"The roof caved in," Baker said. "And they beat us up pretty good."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times