Beaten by the Big Three

Game Eighteen – Cubs 9 Cardinals 12 – 10 innings
WP – Jason Isringhausen (1-0, BS 1) LP – Ryan Dempster (0-1) Save – None

With the wind blowing out to left it was pretty clear to see early on that Sunday’s match-up was going to be anything but a pitcher’s duel….Pat Hughes correctly predicted the final score, just not the winner. It was a classic Cubs-Cardinals game, several lead changes, a bunch of pitches thrown and a lot of balls leaving the old ballpark. The two teams combined for 21 runs on 33 hits without a single error committed.

Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols each hit a home run and Pujols’ 3-run homer in the 10th off of Ryan Dempster was the difference in the game. The Big Three drove in 8 of the Cardinals 12 runs and Scott Rolen had a career best 5 hits, just a double shy of the cycle. The Cubs tied the game in the bottom of the 9th after Alfonso Soriano pinch hit for Felix Pie and doubled down the left field line to put runners on 2nd and 3rd. Mark DeRosa hit a wind assisted pop fly single down the right field line to tie the game but they were unable to win another close ballgame.

Wade Miller had trouble with his velocity and location again and in 4 2/3 innings he gave up 7 runs on 9 hits with 3 of the 9 being home runs. Miller had good location on his curve ball but his fastball is nowhere near the velocity it once was and he left to many out over the plate. The Cubs gave Miller an early lead after he retired the Cardinals in order in the 1st inning. Scott Rolen led off the 2nd with an infield single to 3rd that Aramis Ramirez could not handle after he made a very good play on to keep it in the infield. Jim Edmonds followed Rolen with a 2-run homer over the left field wall. After a 1-2-3 3rd inning, the Cubs took the lead 4-2 in the bottom of the inning but the Cardinals were able to put a couple on the board in the 4th.

Albert Pujols led off the 4th with a single to center and Scott Rolen followed with a single of his own to left. Wade Miller retired Edmonds and struck out Scott Spiezio. But Adam Kennedy doubled on 3-2 pitch to right to score Pujols and Rolen. The Cardinals really poured it on Miller in the 5th. With 1-out Aaron Miles singled to right and Chris Duncan took a 1-2 pitch over the right field wall. Miller retired Pujols but Scott Rolen hit his 2nd home run of the season over the left center field wall and before Piniella could pull Miller, Jim Edmonds singled to right. Piniella went to the pen for Scott Eyre and he gave up a double to Spiezio….Eyre had more troubles throwing strikes to Spiezio but settled down and struck out Kennedy to end the inning.

Michael Wuertz had another fine outing, he retired the Cardinals in order in the 6th and kept the game within reach. After the Cubs tied the game in the bottom of the 6th, Wuertz retired Duncan and struck out Pujols before Rolen singled on a swinging bunt to 3rd. Neal Cotts came into face Edmonds but walked him on 5 pitches….on a 3-2 count, Spiezio flied out to left to end the inning. Cotts had problems throwing strikes as well (23 pitches, 8 strikes) and walked 3 in just 2/3 of an inning. In the 8th Cotts walked Kennedy to lead off the inning but picked him off 1st base. Cotts then walked Yadier Molina and Piniella went to the pen for Bobby Howry.

Howry had trouble throwing strikes like Eyre and Cotts before him. He gave up a single to Preston Wilson before being bailed out of trouble by Ryan Theriot. Theriot made a good grab on a liner off the bat of Aaron Miles and doubled Wilson off of 1st. In the 9th, Howry walked Duncan to lead off the inning and Pujols singled to center. Scott Rolen followed with a triple to right to give the Cardinals the lead. Bobby Howry had another bad outing and gave up 2 runs on 3 hits in an inning and 2/3….but the 2 walks has to be the most concerning. Howry and Cotts walked 5 in 1 1/3 innings….not good.

After the dramatic 9th, Ryan Dempster gave up a bloop single to center by Preston Wilson and an infield single to David Eckstein off the glove of Ramirez at 3rd. On a 0-1 count, Pujols hit the ball out of the park just to the left of straight away center….the ball was right down Main Street.

Lou Piniella used six pitchers in the game on Sunday and they combined to throw 201 pitches, 116 were for strikes….until that ratio is approved upon the Cubs will continue to drop close ballgames. In comparison the Cardinals used 6 pitchers, threw 165 pitches, 115 for strikes.

The Cubs offense came alive on Sunday. Ryan Theriot (3-6), Aramis Ramirez (2-6), Michael Barrett (3-4) and Jacque Jones (2-3) all had big days. The Cubs were able to get on the board in the 1st inning against Adam Wainwright. Theriot doubled to lead off the game but was thrown out at home trying to score on a ground to 1st by Derrek Lee. Ramirez singled with 2 outs to center and Michael Barrett walked. With the bases loaded, Jacque Jones singled to left to score Lee and Ramirez. In the 3rd, Derrek Lee singled to center to lead off the inning and with 1-out, Barrett homered into the basket in center field.

The Cubs went quietly in the 4th and Barrett singled to right to lead off the 5th. Jones followed with a single to right but Ronny Cedeno and Felix Pie struck out. Piniella went to the bench for Daryle Ward and he popped out to short to end the inning. In the 6th, down by 3, Theriot led off with a double to right and Derrek Lee walked with 1-out. Aramis Ramirez then tied the game with one swing of the bat….a home run to left center. The Cubs went quietly in the 7th and 8th innings but down by 2 in the 9th, the game became very interesting.

Barrett singled to left center to lead off the inning but Matt Murton lined out to short and Cedeno struck out. With 2 outs, Piniella went to his bench for Alfonso Soriano. Soriano doubled down the left field line, the ball rolled around in the bullpen and with 2 outs the Cubs had runners on 2nd and 3rd after the double. Piniella pinch ran Cesar Izturis for Soriano and Mark DeRosa tied the game with a bloop single to right. The ball actually looked like it was heading for the stands but because of the strong wind it dropped in fair ground. Both runs scored but Theriot grounded out to short to end the inning.

This version of the Cubs will not quit and Sunday’s game was their first lost when then scored first. The Cubs “can-do” attitude is nice to see….they have to figure out a way to throw strikes and quit trying to throw the perfect pitch.

The Cubs start a 3-game series on Monday night under the lights against the first place Milwaukee Brewers. Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to take the hill….at least the Faithful knows what the Brewers reading material will be for their journey to Wrigley.

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney