CHICAGO -- Cubs reliever Hector Rondon was not available on Monday after pitching in four straight games over five days.
Rondon was a perfect 3-for-3 in save situations, picking up saves on Friday and Saturday, but served up a tiebreaking two-run single to Yadier Molina in the ninth inning on Sunday. The Cardinals held on for a 5-4 win.
Catcher Welington Castillo gave Rondon a pep talk.
"I told him, 'Don't worry about anything. You threw the ball really good,'" Castillo said. "'You faced a good hitter. You tried to make a pitch and it didn't happen. Sometimes you make a bad pitch and you get out of it; sometimes you make a good pitch and they hit it.' Baseball is hard. I tried to tell him, 'Come [today] with your mind fresh and ready to go.'"
Rondon was smiling on Monday and said he was ready to go. Cubs manager Rick Renteria has been using the right-hander in save situations, but hasn't designated him as the closer. Justin Grimm and Pedro Strop are the Cubs' other options.
"I think their youthfulness doesn't allow them to get wrapped up in that particular inning," Renteria said. "They just think about making pitches, which is actually a good thing. If they have success, the confidence grows."
Castillo said Rondon's pitch just stayed too much on the plate, and Molina connected.
"Stuff happens," Castillo said. "Everybody wants to make a pitch when they need to. He's been so good. I told him, 'Don't try to change anything, you're good, and just refresh your mind and be ready.'"
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.