Duelin’ Lefties

Game One Hundred Eleven – Cubs 1 Astros 2 – 10 innings
WP – Brad Lidge (3-1) LP – Michael Wuertz (2-3) Save – None

Rich Hill put forth his best effort of the second half but unfortunately the Cubs’ offense faced a lefty in his home park that is just lights out this season in Wandy Rodriguez. Hill made only one mistake in 7 strong innings, a solo home run to Carlos Lee in the 4th inning. Hill gave up just 2 other hits, a single to Lee and bloop single to Brad Ausmus in the 5th. Carlos Marmol and Bobby Howry threw 2 perfect innings of relief but Michael Wuertz walked the lead off hitter in the 10th, Ty Wigginton, after getting ahead in the count 0-2. Jason Lane sacrificed him to 2nd and after a wild pitch advanced Wigginton to 3rd, Eric Munson singled to right on a 3-2 pitch to drive in the winning run.

The Cubs offense continued their struggles against left handed pitching. They had plenty of chances early in the game and left 6 runners on base through the first 4 innings. Ryan Theriot doubled twice for 2 of the Cubs 5 hits and scored the only run of the game on a ground out by Derrek Lee in the 5th. Astros pitching struck out 6 consecutive Cubs in the 8th and 9th innings and Wandy Rodriguez set a career high with 9 strikeouts. The Cubs out hit the Astros 5-4 but it was the lead off walk in the 10th inning that turned out to be the difference in the game.

Rich Hill pitched a gem and gave his skipper the Cubs second quality start in their last 6 games. He showed very good command all night….of his pitches and himself. He did not appear to get as frustrated with his mistakes as he has in the past and his performance on Monday night has to carry over into the final 7 weeks of the season. But the offense is another story….

Lou Piniella’s crew has not been hitting the ball of late and not all season against southpaws. While the popular saying is, “Sometimes you have to tip your cap,” Piniella has to figure out a way to get production out of his offense against left handed pitching. He has tried right-handed dominated lineups all year and they are not providing results. Piniella has done a very good job this season with the Cubs but he has to step out of the box, put the stat book down and try something else….

The Cubs had chances to score in the 1st inning. Ronny Cedeno reached on an error by Craig Biggio and advanced to 3rd with only 1-out after a single to left center by Derrek Lee. Wandy Rodriguez settled down an struck out both Aramis Ramirez and Matt Murton swinging to end the inning.

In the 3rd Ryan Theriot doubled with 1-out and stole 3rd on a would-be wild pitch with Ronny Cedeno at the plate. Cedeno could not put the bat on the ball and struck out swinging and Lee flied out to center to end the inning.

The Cubs loaded the bases with 2 outs in the 4th. Matt Murton singled, Mark DeRosa walked and after Angel Pagan flied out to center, Rodriguez pitched around Jason Kendall to load the bases. Rich Hill struck out on 3 pitches to end the inning.

The lone Cubs’ run came in the 5th after Theriot doubled to lead off the inning. Cedeno grounded out to 3rd on a swinging bunt and with Theriot at 3rd, Lee grounded out to 2nd to plate Theriot. The Cubs did not manage another hit or base runner until the 10th inning.

Jason Kendall led off the 10th with a single to left. Eric Patterson made his Major League debut and sacrificed him to 2nd. Ryan Theriot flied out to center but Kendall tagged and advanced to 3rd. Brad Lidge struck out Cliff Floyd on three consecutive sliders in the dirt to end the inning.

Lou Piniella’s crew gave one away on Monday night.

Sean Marshall is scheduled to face Woody Williams on Tuesday night.

Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver