Game Eighty-Five – Cubs 4 Pirates 8
WP – Paul Maholm (5-11) LP – Jason Marquis (6-5) Save – None
Paul Maholm won his 5th game of the season on Friday night and two of his wins have come at the expense of Lou Piniella’s crew. The Cubs offense continued to struggle against left handed pitching and did not record their 4th hit of the game until a lead off single in the 8th inning by Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs tied the game in the 3rd inning but the Pirates hit two solo home runs in the bottom half of the inning and continued to tack on runs throughout the game.
Jason Marquis was inconsistent once again. After a stellar outing against the Brewers, Marquis left the game in the 5th inning with 2 outs and allowed 6 runs on 8 hits including a 2-out, 2-run single to Paul Maholm in the 2nd inning. Marquis left the ball up all night, gave up home runs to Freddy Sanchez and Xavier Nady and recorded just four ground ball outs. The Pirates won their 4th game in a row and were very impressive. They received a solid outing from Paul Maholm, who has never lost to the Cubs, played a very good game defensively and ripped apart Cubs pitching. Jason Marquis did not end his first half the way he started it and with his last several outings looking very similar to those he put up for the Cardinals last year, Piniella has to be concerned about him in the second half. Like most Major League players, Marquis’ problems appear to be mostly mental. He has a hard time dealing with adversity and pitching out of trouble. Marquis has shown he is very capable of being successful at this level, it is now up to Piniella and Rothschild to get him to perform to the highest of his ability on a consistent basis.
This organization once again on Friday made a mediocre lefty look like the reincarnation of Steve Carlton. Maholm has a lot of talent but only appears to put it together against the Cubs. Lou Piniella has done a lot of positive things in the first half but the one glaring change he has to make is to figure out how not to lose games to below average pitchers and rookies. The last two games the Cubs have lost have come against southpaws and their record against lefties on the season fell to 8-13….second only to the Kansas City Royals for the worst in the majors.
Jason Marquis breezed through the 1st inning and retired the Pirates in order on just 7 pitches but gave up back-to-back singles to Xavier Nady and Ryan Doumit to start the 2nd. Marquis struck out Jason Bay and Jose Batista flied out to center. With 2 outs and runners on 1st and 2nd, Marquis appeared to be pitching around Jack Wilson and eventually walked him to load the bases. Marquis fell behind Paul Maholm before throwing a fastball right down the middle of the plate. Maholm singled to right center and drove in the first two runs of the game….before Friday, Maholm had a total of two RBI’s on the season.
After the Cubs tied the game in the top of the 3rd, Freddy Sanchez led off the bottom of the inning with a home run to left and 1-out later, Xavier Nady followed with one of his own on a 1-2 pitch from Marquis. Doumit and Bay both flied out to end the inning. Marquis was elevating the ball all night.
Marquis worked out of trouble in the 4th after Jack Wilson reached on a bad hop to Ryan Theriot at short. Maholm sacrificed him to 2nd and after a 2-out walk to Nate McLouth, Sanchez grounded out to end the inning. Marquis struck out Adam LaRoche to start the 5th but walked Nady and gave up an opposite field double to Ryan Doumit, Nady scored. After Jason Bay popped out, Batista doubled to right center to chase Marquis from the game. Sean Gallagher retired Jack Wilson on a fly out to left to end the inning.
Gallagher picked up where Marquis left off. He retired Maholm and McLouth to start the 6th but walked Freddy Sanchez with 2-outs. Mike Fontenot booted a ball off the bat of Adam LaRoche to put runners on 1st and 2nd….again with 2 outs. Nady doubled to left to score Sanchez and Gallagher walked Doumit….again with 2 outs but the struggling Jason Bay bailed out Gallagher and grounded out to short on Gallagher’s first pitch to end the inning.
The Pirates recorded their 6th and 7th extra base hits of the game off of Michael Wuertz in the 8th. McLouth hit a ground rule double to left center and scored on a double by Freddy Sanchez to left. The Pirates hit safely 12 times and walked 5 times against Cubs pitching with 7 hits being for extra bases….5 doubles and 2 home runs.
The Cubs have not hit a home run since last Friday when Aramis Ramirez hit his game winner against the Brewers….and the drought continued against the Pirates. Angel Pagan doubled to left center with 2 outs in the 2nd inning. Maholm appeared to be pitching around Ryan Theriot to get to Rob Bowen (0-for-his-last-20 and 1-for-23 as a Cub entering play on Friday). Theriot walked and with Bowen at the plate, the base running blunders continued. Pagan attempted to steal 3rd but broke too soon and was thrown out at 3rd by Maholm who had not thrown to the plate.
Rob Bowen doubled to lead off the 3rd and was safe at 3rd when Maholm tried to throw him out on an attempted sacrifice by Jason Marquis. With runners on 1st and 2nd and no outs, Alfonso Soriano flied out to center, Bowen scored and Marquis advanced to 2nd….it was a good job of running the bases. Fontenot grounded out to 1st on a bad hop he thought was going foul, Marquis advanced and scored the tying run on a wild pitch with Derrek Lee at the plate.
Maholm retired 9 in a row before walking Aramis Ramirez with 2 outs in the 6th. Mark DeRosa singled to center but Angel Pagan grounded out to short after a very good at bat. Soriano led off the 8th with a single past Wilson at short. Fontenot followed with a single to center and Jim Tracy went to his pen. Shawn Chacon walked Lee to load the bases with no outs. Aramis Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly to left, Soriano scored. With runners on 1st and 3rd, DeRosa hit a sacrifice fly to left, Fontenot scored but Pagan flied out to end the inning.
Ryan Theriot led off the 9th with a single but after taking 2nd on defensive indifference, Bowen grounded out to short and Koyie Hill was robbed of a single by Jack Wilson….he caught Hill’s liner that appeared to be heading into left field and doubled Theriot off 2nd base to end the game.
Lou Piniella must remind his team there are still two games left before the break.
Ted Lilly is scheduled to take the mound on Saturday night against rookie right-hander, John Van Benschoten. Let’s hope this rookie does not mesmerize the Cubs offense.