Too Much, Too Soon, Too Late

Game Fifty-Six – Cubs 5 Brewers 7
WP – Claudio Vargas (4-1) LP – Ted Lilly (4-4) Save – Francisco Cordero (22)

Ted Lilly could not put an end to his recent command problems and gave up a season high 6 earned runs on Tuesday night. The Brewers scored in 4 of the 5 innings Lilly pitched with 3 of the runs he allowed coming off of solo home runs by Tony Graffanino, Corey Hart and Ryan Braun. With Angel Guzman apparently heading to the DL, Alan Trammell was working with a shortened bullpen that he had to empty the night before. While Lilly surrendered only one free pass, he pitched from behind all night and gave up 8 of the Brewers’ 10 hits.

While the Brewers scored early and often, the Cubs did not get on the board until the 4th inning and had the tying runs on base in the 8th inning. After a bases loaded single by Mark DeRosa off of Derrick Turnbow cut the Brewers lead to two, Ned Yost brought in his closer to record the final 4 outs of the game. Francisco Cordero struck out Alfonso Soriano to end the threat in the 8th and with Aramis Ramirez on 1st with 2 outs in the 9th, Cliff Floyd lined out to 2nd to end the game. Ted Lilly had been very impressive early in the season. He showed very good command of all his pitches and was very efficient on the mound. Lilly has not been the same since he was skipped in the Padres series and pitched on “extra rest” against the Dodgers on May 25th. Several reports mentioned Lilly had a sore back before his start against the Marlins and it showed in his performance. Lilly had given up 4 home runs in 64 2/3 innings before his last start and has now allowed 6 home runs in his last 12 innings….

After retiring Corey Hart to start the game, Lilly gave up back-to-back singles to J.J. Hardy and Ryan Braun (3-4, with a home run and 2 RBI’s). With Prince Fielder at the plate, Lilly threw a wild pitch that advanced both runners and allowed the Brewers to score the first run of the game. Fielder hit a sacrifice fly to center and a very good slide by Hardy kept him from being thrown out by Felix Pie at the plate. Lilly walked Bill Hall but Kevin Mench swung at ball 4 and popped out to Derrek Lee to end the inning. Lilly threw 29 pitches in the 1st inning, 15 for strikes.

Tony Graffanino and Corey Hart hit solo home runs in the 2nd inning. Lilly hung a curve ball to Graffanino and threw a fastball right down main to Hart on a 3-2 count. Cliff Floyd made a fine running catch to rob Hardy of extra bases to end the inning. Fielder doubled to right center with 1-out in the 3rd and scored on a 2-out double to left by Kevin Mench. Lilly appeared to get out of the inning with a ground ball to 3rd off the bat of Damian Miller, but Ramirez could not glove the ball (it was ruled a single but could have gone either way, Ramirez had to move to his left and the ball bounced over his glove), Mench scored and Lilly recorded his first strikeout of the game (Graffanino) to end the inning.

Lilly retired the Brewers in order in the 4th thanks to a great play by Derrek Lee. Lee robbed Hardy of extra bases and threw to Lilly (from the seat of his pants) covering 1st to end the inning. In the 5th, Ryan Braun led off the inning with a mammoth home run to left and Derrek Lee ended the inning with another fine play down the right field line….Lee showed his range and ended up in right to make the catch and take a hit away from Mench.

The runs the Brewers scored in the 5th and 7th innings would be the winning runs and with a healthy bullpen, might have been avoided. Scott Eyre had his best outing since leaving Arizona and retired the Brewers in order in the 6th but Michael Wuertz could not find the strike zone (13 pitches, 5 strikes) and gave up a leadoff walk to Hart in the 7th. Hart stole 2nd and advanced to 3rd on a groundout to Ramirez. Ryan Braun singled to center to plate the last Brewers’ run. Will Ohman and Bobby Howry pitched very well in the last 1 2/3 innings and gave up just 1 hit and struck out 4, but most importantly they did not allow a single walk.

Alfonso Soriano doubled to left center to lead off the game but was stranded there when Aramis Ramirez flied out to right to end the inning. Felix Pie attempted to bunt for a hit with Soriano at 2nd but popped out to Braun and his at bat changed the inning. The Cubs went down in order in the 2nd and 3rd innings but got on the board in the 4th and it should have been more.

Felix Pie singled to right to start the inning and Derrek Lee walked on 4 pitches. Ramirez swung at the first pitch from Vargas and flied out to deep right (Ramirez swung at the first pitch after a 4-pitch walk?) Cliff Floyd singled to left to score Pie and with 2-outs and Ryan Theriot walked to load the bases. Cesar Izturis swung at the first pitch and flied out to right to end the inning….bases loaded, down by 4 and the pitcher had walked two in the inning….

Cliff Floyd hit a tape measure home run with 1-out in the 6th. Barrett followed with a single to right and after a very good, 11-pitch at bat, Theriot doubled to left center and Barrett scored from 1st. Yost lifted Vargas for Carlos Villanueva and he struck out Izturis and Jacque Jones grounded out to 2nd to end the inning.

The Cubs were retired in order in the 7th but Ramirez led off the 8th with a walk. Yost brought in Derrick Turnbow to face Cliff Floyd. Floyd lined out to center but Barrett walked and Theriot singled to load the bases. Matt Murton pinch hit for Izturis and struck out but Mark DeRosa singled to center to score Ramirez and Barrett. Yost went to his pen again and brought in Francisco Cordero to face Soriano. After taking the first pitch, Soriano struck out swinging to end the inning. Pie showed patience in the 9th and worked the count to 3-1 before flying out to left. Ramirez kept the inning going and single to left but Floyd lined out to Graffanino at 2nd to end the game.

The Cubs had chances to pull out the win, they were 3-14 with runners in scoring position. Ted Lilly had a bad night and he must find a way to get back on track.

Carlos Zambrano will face Jeff Suppan in the series finale and will look to give the Cubs their first series win since the White Sox series nearly a month ago. This is another big game the Cubs need their ace to step up in win….