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Hansel Robles just keeps giving opponents runs, and it cost the Red Sox dearly on Friday

It was once again Hansel Robles on the mound as a lead slipped through the Red Sox' fingers Friday.Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

CHICAGO — It took a slider over the heart of the plate to seal Hansel Robles’s fate Friday afternoon. A reminder of his struggles this season and this week, including a blown save against the Blue Jays.

His latest hiccup came in the sixth inning against the Cubs. He had two outs and a two-run lead, but walked the nine-hole hitter Andrelton Simmons, hitting .176 for the year. Then, a 1-and-1 slider that had little bite and registered 90 miles per hour on the gun ended up parked in the left field bleachers by Christopher Morel, tying the game.

After two more walks, sandwiched around a double, the mess was given to Jake Diekman, who couldn’t clean it up. With the bases loaded, Diekman allowed the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. It was also the winning run in a 6-5 Red Sox loss at Wrigley Field.


“The slider is not good right now,” manager Alex Cora said regarding Robles, who has allowed 10 runs in his last seven outings. “It’s kind of like a short cutter. There’s no sweeping action.”

Robles’ ERA jumped a run, to 5.70 in 23⅔ innings, with Friday’s debacle. He declined to speak to the media, leaving his teammates and manager to speak for him.

“He left that slider in the middle,” catcher Christian Vázquez said. “It was a bad day.”

The sixth-inning meltdown finished off what was once a four-run lead, begun when Jarren Duran tagged his first homer of the season, a 417-foot shot to straightaway center off Adrian Sampson, on the game’s first pitch.

“I honestly thought it was a single at first,” Duran said. “I haven’t been hitting a lot of home runs. When I ran into it I was a bit in shock, but it’s always a good feeling to hit one.”


In the second frame with the bases loaded, Jackie Bradley Jr. snapped an 0-for-26 slump with a three-run double.

This game doesn’t all fall on Robles and the bullpen. The Sox scored just one more run after that, on an RBI single by Duran in the sixth that briefly put the Sox ahead, 5-3.

“We didn’t do much,” Cora said. “It was a weird day offensively. We didn’t do much. Yeah, we scored five, but it felt like, offensively, we were stuck today.”

Rich Hill held the Cubs scoreless through four innings, but an RBI triple by Nelson Velazquez and an RBI groundout gave the Cubs their first two runs in the fifth. Hill then tweaked his knee on the first pitch of an at-bat to Willson Contreras. Cora and the training staff came out to check on Hill, who stayed in the game, but admitted he shouldn’t have.

“I feel stupid for staying in, to be honest with you,” Hill said. “[I was] stubborn. I put us in a really bad position. Unfortunately that falls on me. I thought it was going to kind of just be a little tweak and that I could pitch through it.”

Hill walked Contreras on four straight pitches, yielded a single to Ian Happ, and plunked Patrick Wisdom to load the bases. Tyler Danish came in and walked in a run to make it 4-3.

Hill tossed 4⅔ innings and was diagnosed with a left knee sprain.

Robles is just 2 for 8 in save opportunities. Since April 29, he has a 9.20 ERA.


“The slider is not there and the changeup, it’s been harder,” Cora said. “We just got to keep working, get the secondary pitches better and hopefully that can help.”

Robles sat at his locker inside the visitors clubhouse, head down, scrolling through his phone. Franchy Cordero came over, offering some words of encouragement. Robles never looked up. He continued to scroll.

A member of the Sox public relations staff then sat next to Robles, speaking to him in a soft tone, asking for a second time if he would speak to the media. Robles continued to scroll through his phone. He never looked up and just shook his head.

He declined once more.

Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him @byJulianMack.