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Game Ninety-Seven – Cubs 0 Diamondbacks 3
WP – Yusmeiro Petit (2-2) LP – Sean Marshall (4-4) Save – Jose Valverde (30)

For the first time since June 20th and 21st the Cubs lost back-to-back games but still finished the 10-game homestand with a 7-3 record. The Derrek Lee-less offense managed just 4 hits and only 5 base runners on the afternoon. Lou Piniella’s crew was shutout for just the 5th time this season and did not score a run in the last 14 innings of the series. The Cubs handed Yusmeiro Petit his 3rd Major League victory of his young career. The offense appeared out of sync from the beginning of the game and despite countless foul balls they were not able to get solid contact for the second straight day.

Sean Marshall took the loss and of his 13 career big league defeats, his team has only scored 12 runs in total run support while he was on the mound. Marshall did more than a team should expect out of its 5th starter and actually lowered his ERA in the loss from 3.43 to 3.25. Marshall allowed just 1 run on 5 hits in 6 innings. Carlos Marmol had a rough outing and gave up 2 runs in his inning of relief.

The Cubs are expected to get Derrek Lee back on Tuesday when they open a 3-game series in St. Louis and his bat should be welcomed back with open arms. They did finish with a 3-2 record in his 5-game absence but his presence was sorely missed. Lee gives the Cubs three big bats, something every team needs to win games.

Both teams played like they were at the end of a long series of games and to be quite obvious the game was rather boring. There were only two hard hit balls all afternoon, the home run by Chris Snyder and the double by Alfonso Soriano, granted Ryan Theriot did get a good lick on the ball he shot up the middle after the Soriano double, but when a ball does not leave the infield, well…. The two teams combined for 3 runs and 11 hits, typically not the offense output one would expect from two teams over the .500 mark.

The D’backs got the run that beat Marshall in the 1st inning. Marshall retired Chris Young and Orlando Hudson to start the game but Eric Byrnes singled to center with 2 outs. With Conor Jackson at the plate, Byrnes stole 2nd and Marshall walked Jackson after a 2-2 pitch barely missed being strike three. Marshall got ahead of Mark Reynolds 1-2 but he singled to left on the next pitch to score Byrnes from 2nd. Alfonso Soriano tried to throw home but his throw was late, skipped past Jason Kendall and allowed both runners to advance into scoring position. The error was the third for Soriano on the homestand. Scott Hairston swung at the first pitch from Marshall and flied out to left to end the inning.

Marshall threw 26 pitches in the 1st inning with 7 being fouled at the plate. Marshall could not throw the out pitch he needed. After the 1st inning Marshall settled down and while he gave up a single to Chris Snyder in the 2nd, he was stranded at 1st. Marshall threw just 16 pitches in the inning. Marshall retired the D’backs in order in the 3rd and 4th innings.

After retiring the first two batters in the 5th, Marshall gave up an infield single to Chris Young and then walked Orlando Hudson before Byrnes flied out to left to end the inning. Conor Jackson doubled to lead off the 6th inning but the D’backs stranded him in scoring position. Marshall struck out 2 of the last 3 batters he faced to end his outing. Marshall was lifted after throwing 98 pitches, 61 for strikes in 6 innings. Sunday’s start was Marshall’s 11th of the season and his 8th quality start of the year….not bad for a team’s “5th starter”.

Carlos Marmol took over in the 7th and could not find the strike zone for the first time this season. He threw 32 pitches in his inning of relief and only 15 were strikes. Marmol fell behind Chris Snyder 3-1 and Snyder took advantage of the hitter’s count. Snyder hit Marmol’s next pitch over the left center field wall. Marmol struck out Chad Tracy but walked Chris Young. Young stole 2nd with Hudson at the plate and Marmol eventually walked Hudson. Eric Byrnes struck out for the second ouy. Conor Jackson blooped a single to right that landed in front of Cliff Floyd that scored the Young with the game’s final run.

Billy Petrick pitched the 8th and gave up a 2-out walk to Chris Snyder. Scott Eyre pitched a scoreless 9th but gave up a 2-out walk to Eric Byrnes. Only one run on the afternoon came before the first two outs were recorded.

The Cubs offense, as mentioned, was non existent. Mike Fontenot singled to left center with 2 outs in the 1st inning. Soriano doubled with 2 outs in the 3rd inning and Jason Kendall recorded his first hit as a Cub with 2 outs in the 5th inning. Aramis Ramirez reached on an error by Orlando Hudson to lead off the 7th and Ryan Theriot singled to left center to lead off the 9th.

The Cubs get a much-needed day off on Monday before starting a 6-game road trip with three games in St. Louis on Tuesday. Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to face Kip Wells in the opener with Derrek Lee expected back in the lineup. A report in the Tribune on Sunday morning mentioned Lee should return as long as the ankle he hit with the foul tip on Tuesday allows him to do so.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax