Game Thirty-Two – Cubs 4 Pirates 6
WP – Paul Maholm (2-4) LP – Carlos Zambrano (3-3) Save – Salomon Torres (11)
Before the season began Carlos Zambrano predicted his team would win the World Series and he would win the Cy Young Award….after 8 starts Zambrano has looked like anything but an award winner. Zambrano gave up 3 runs in the 1st inning after hitting Freddy Sanchez to start the game and while Matt Murton’s error in the 3rd inning led to two unearned runs and the difference in the game, it was Zambrano that allowed the inning to continue with a 2-out walk to Ryan Doumit.
All 4 runs for the Cubs on the afternoon came via the long ball. Aramis Ramirez and Angel Pagan hit solo shots and Michael Barrett hit a 2-run pinch hit home run in the 8th inning. Alfonso Soriano extended his hitting streak to 18 games and a single in the 4th kept both streaks in tact for Derrek Lee. Numerous excuses have been made trying to explain Carlos Zambrano’s performance this season but the bottom line is he is not getting the job done. Zambrano lasted just 6 innings and gave up 6 runs, 4 earned, on 7 hits, walked 2, struck out 6 and hit a batter on 117 pitches, 75 for strikes…. For a comparison, Paul Maholm, Matt Capps and Salomon Torres combined to throw 118 pitches in the entire game.
After Zambrano hit Sanchez to start the game, he gave up a doubles to Jose Bautista and Jason Bay. Bay’s double was misplayed by Murton in right and scored the first two runs of the game. Ryan Doumit singled, Bay advanced to 3rd and Xavier Nady hit a sacrifice fly to left that allowed Bay to score from 3rd. Zambrano then threw the ball away while trying to pick-off Doumit at 1st but he settled down and struck out Ronny Paulino to end the inning.
In the 2nd inning it appeared Zambrano was going to have a repeat performance from his start against the Nationals. He retired the Pirates in order and sat down the first two he faced in the 3rd (8 in a row) before walking Doumit with 2-outs. Doumit scored from 1st when Matt Murton was unable to catch a ball hit to right by Xavier Nady. With Nady at 2nd, Adam LaRoche singled to right, Nady scored and Zambrano retired Paulino to end the inning.
In the 4th, Zambrano retired the first two batters he faced again but allowed a single to Freddy Sanchez before retiring Bautista to end the inning….92 pitches at the end of 4 innings. Jason Bay led off the 5th with a solo home run to left, Doumit followed with a double and after a 1-out walk to LaRoche, Paulino grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. Zambrano retired the Pirates in order for the second time in the 6th to end his afternoon.
Of the 7 hits the Pirates recorded off of Zambrano, 4 were for extra bases and it now appears every team’s game plan has become to just remain patient with Zambrano and wait for him to beat himself.
Rocky Cherry threw 2 perfect innings in relief and struck out 3. Michael Wuertz pitched the 9th, gave up a hit and struck out 1.
The Cubs offense grounded into three inning ending double plays in the first 4 innings and was unable to put together a rally after falling behind 6-1 early in the game. Aramis Ramirez led off the 2nd inning with his 7th of the season and the second run on the day came courtesy of Angel Pagan’s first home run of the season in the 6th (Pagan was called up before the game, started in center and Felix Pie was optioned to Iowa). Alfonso Soriano singled to right center, extended his hitting streak but was erased on a ground out to short by Ryan Theriot.
In the 8th, Pagan singled to center with 1-out. Michael Barrett pinch hit for Rocky Cherry and hit a 2-run homer to left to chase Maholm from the game. Theriot singled with 2 outs but after a good at bat and running the count to 3-2, Derrek Lee struck out to end the inning.
With the loss the Cubs are back at .500 again….Lou Piniella must figure out a way to start winning games in bunches and soon.
The Cubs hit the road for a 7-game trip that includes stops in Philadelphia and New York before Interleague play starts on May 18th. Rich Hill is scheduled to take the mound on Friday evening against another lefty, Cole Hamels.