Taken to School

Game Sixty-Eight – Cubs 3 Padres 11
WP – Greg Maddux (6-3) LP – Rich Hill (5-5) Save – None

The Padres managed just two runs in the first two games of the series but on Sunday afternoon they matched their series run total in the 1st inning. The Padres scored 11 times on 14 hits and hit 5 home runs against Cubs’ pitching. The heart of the Padres’ order was a combined 9-for-14 with 10 RBI’s, 8 runs scored, a walk and 4 home runs. Greg Maddux did the rest and showed why he is a first ballot Hall of Famer. The Cubs managed 1 run on 4 hits before tacking on a couple of runs off of Maddux in the 6th, but by that time Maddux was well on his way to career victory number 339.

Rich Hill pitched only 3 innings and even the outs he made were hit hard. Mike Cameron hit two more home runs off Hill, to run his total to four off the Cubs’ southpaw, all in consecutive at bats. The Padres have Rich Hill’s number. Two of Hill’s worst starts and losses on the season have come at the hands of the Friars, and of the 15 home runs he has given up this season, seven have been hit by the Padres, four by Mike Cameron alone.

The Cubs needed the win on Sunday to get back on track and win the first back-to-back series at home this season and for the first time since September of 2006. Derrek Lee had a solid day at the plate with his suspension still up in the air (the MLB front office should make the announcement on Monday and Lee should appeal and delay his suspension) but Alfonso Soriano continued his struggles at the plate and before his single in the 7th inning was 2 for his last 37. The Cubs looked like a team on Sunday that was playing the last game of 17 in a row without a day off.

From the first batter of the game, Marcus Giles, it was very apparent Rich Hill did not have his usual stuff. Giles hit a deep fly out to right and Jose Cruz, Jr. hit a loud out to left as well. Adrian Gonzalez doubled off the center field wall on a 0-2 count and Mike Cameron hit his first home run of the day to left on a 2-0 count. Hill retired Khalil Greene on a long fly out to center….again another hard hit ball.

Hill appeared to recover in the 2nd and other than the first career Major League hit by Chase Headley, the Padres went quietly and Hill even struck out Greg Maddux looking. And while Hill faced just 4 batters, again the outs were hit hard. In the 3rd, Giles tapped out to Hill for the first out (the first ball the Padres did not tee off on) but Cruz walked on 4 pitches and Hill gave up a home run to left by Gonzalez. Mike Cameron followed and took Hill’s first pitch over the wall in center for only the second time all season the Padres had hit back-to-back home runs….the first time was off of Rich Hill.

Hill departed after the 3rd inning and Sean Gallagher made his first appearance at Wrigley Field. Gallagher struck out the first two batters he faced (Headley and Bowen) and Maddux popped out to end the inning….1-2-3 with the Cubs down 5-1 at the time. But the 5th inning proved to be an entirely different outcome.

Gallagher walked Giles on 4 pitches to start the 5th inning but struck out Cruz for the first out. Gonzalez doubled to right and Giles scored the first Padres run of the day that did not come via the long ball. Mike Cameron walked and Khalil Greene hit a 3-run homer over the wall in left center. Bocachica walked and Headley grounded into a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning….Gallagher made a nice play to start it.

Scott Eyre pitched two scoreless innings and gave up two hits while striking out two. Michael Wuertz gave up the 5th homer of the day to Rob Bowen in the 8th and Will Ohman continued his struggles and surrendered a run on 3 hits in his one inning of work.

Before Sunday, the Cubs’ staff had allowed 13 runs on the homestand and on Sunday, the Padres almost equaled that total in 9 innings.

Jacque Jones hit two doubles and scored a run off of Greg Maddux but the Cubs as a team managed 9 total hits on the day, with two of them coming after Maddux left the game. Jones doubled with 1-out in the 2nd inning and scored on a 2-out single to right by Ryan Theriot. Maddux allowed a hit to Derrek Lee with 2 outs in the 3rd and not another one until Lee tripled with 1-out in the 6th.

After the Lee triple, Michael Barrett doubled to right and Jones doubled to left center to score Barrett for the last Cub run of the day.

While the Cubs have played better ball since the first of June, they are hitting a part of their schedule where they play 13 of their next 19 games, leading up to the All-Star break, against teams with a record under .500. If Lou’s crew wants to get above .500, now is the time to do it.

The Cubs have an off day on Monday before starting a 3-game series in Arlington against the Rangers and Sammy Sosa. Sosa is just one hop short of 600 homers for his career.

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon