All Too Familiar

Game Forty-Four – Cubs 1 Padres 2
WP – David Wells (2-2) LP – Sean Marshall (0-1) Save – Trevor Hoffman (13)

Sean Marshall made just one mistake, a 2-run home run to Kevin Kouzmanoff in the 7th inning and unfortunately for the Cubs, it was the difference in the game. Marshall pitched a very good game and allowed 4 hits and 2 walks in 7 innings while striking out 8, a new career high. But when your offense cannot add on the “tack-on-runs” that Lou Piniella has preached about all year long, sometimes one mistake is simply one too many.

The Cubs out hit the Padres for the second night in a row and in the first two games of the series they have stranded 18 base runners. The Cubs have wasted very good pitching performances this season and Sean Marshall is the latest beneficiary of an offense that has yet to click on all cylinders on a consistent basis this year. Sean Marshall’s outing was very reminiscent of many he had last year, especially early in the season. Marshall worked fast and got into a rhythm and appeared to gain confidence as he went along, at one point retiring 11 in a row before a single by Josh Bard in the 7th put a runner on for Kouzmanoff’s big swing a batter later. If Marshall can be half as successful the rest of the year as he was on Wednesday night, he will give Lou Piniella a very solid 5th starter.

Sean Marshall’s season debut did not begin the way Lou Piniella hoped it would start. Marshall walked Marcus Giles to begin the game but for one of the few times this season, a lead off walk did not come around to score off of Cubs pitching. Marshall settled down and retired the next three batters he faced. He threw 20 pitches in the 1st inning and 11 were for strikes.

The Cubs defense helped out Marshall on several occasions on the night. Derrek Lee made a fine catch in foul territory to retire Khalil Greene in the 2nd and Cesar Izturis followed Lee with a fine diving catch to his left to rob Josh Bard. Marshall struck out Terrmel Sledge to end the 2nd inning….his first strikeout of the season. After retiring the first two batters he faced in the 3rd, Marshall gave up a 2-out single to Jose Cruz, Jr. and walked Mike Cameron but Adrian Gonzalez flied out to center to end the inning.

Marshall retired the Padres in order for the first time in the 4th and went onto retire 11 in a row before the single to Bard in the 7th gave way to the 2-run homer by Kevin Kouzmanoff. Alfonso Soriano made a very good running catch to rob Mike Cameron of an extra base hit in the 6th. Michael Wuertz and Will Ohman pitched a perfect 8th to give the offense a chance against Trevor Hoffman.

For the second night in a row the Cubs scored first but like Tuesday night, it was the only run they scored in the game. Mark DeRosa had a 4-hit game and tied a career high but the Cubs inability to make the opposing pitcher work cost them a chance of blowing the game open in the 7th and in turn changed the momentum of the game.

Matt Murton singled to left with 2-outs in the 2nd inning, stole 2nd and scored on a double to left center by Mark DeRosa for the lone run of the game for the Cubs. Murton had a good night at the plate but a horrible night on the bases and his inability to recognize the Padres defense cost the Cubs a chance at a big inning in the 5th.

Murton and DeRosa led off the 5th with singles but Cesar Izturis lined out to Cruz, Jr. in right, who was playing extremely shallow, Murton was almost at 3rd when Cruz, Jr. caught the ball and threw to 2nd for the double play.

Michael Barrett and Matt Murton led off the 7th with walks against David Wells. DeRosa followed with a bloop single into right center (Giles and Cruz, Jr. collided on the play) to load the bases with 1-out. Izturis ran the count to 3-1 but grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. Izturis did not make David Wells work….he was having obvious control problems, Izturis did him a favor and hit his pitch. Mark DeRosa tripled in the 9th to right with 2 outs off of Trevor Hoffman but Jacque Jones (pinch hitting for Izturis) flied out to right to end the game.

The loss on Wednesday was the 10th in Sean Marshall’s young career, in those 10 losses the Cubs have scored a total of 10 runs.

Jason Marquis will look to salvage the last game of the series against Chris Young on Thursday night before the Cubs head to LA for the weekend.