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Game One Hundred Twelve – Cubs 2 Astros 5
WP – Woody Williams (6-12) LP – Sean Marshall (5-6) Save – Brad Lidge (7)

For the second night in a row Lou Piniella’s crew missed opportunities to put the game away in the 1st inning and ended up wasting a solid start by Sean Marshall. The Cubs loaded the bases with no outs to start the game but came away with only 1 run. Woody Williams could not find the strike zone and walked 3 of the first 4 batters he faced including Cliff Floyd with the bases loaded to force in the first run of the game. But Mark DeRosa struck out, Jacque Jones hit a soft liner to short and Jason Kendall flied out to right to end the inning. The Cubs stranded 7 base runners in the first 3 innings and the only other run came off of Matt Murton’s second home run of the season in the 7th inning. The Cubs offense struck out 13 times for the second game in a row and managed just 6 hits.

Sean Marshall threw 5 solid innings before being lifted for Kerry Wood with 1-out in the 6th. He gave up only 1 run threw the first 5, a solo shot by Jason Lane in the 2nd inning. Marshall shut the Astros down and retired 9 in a row until a lead off double by Brad Ausmus in the 6th. Marshall gave up of total of 5 runs on 7 hits in 5 1/3 innings with 2 strikeouts and no walks. Wood threw 1 2/3 innings of relief, 31 pitches, gave up 2 hits and allowed 2 inherited runs. The Cubs dropped their 3rd game in a row for the first time since June 2nd and are 4-4 in the season series against the Houston Astros.

Sean Marshall deserved a better fate than he received. This game should have been put away in the 1st inning but the offense let Woody Williams off the proverbial hook. Lou Piniella’s crew is just flat and appears to be lacking focus….not to mention clutch hits. Of the 13 times they struck out on Tuesday night, 5 were looking and 3 were by Derrek Lee alone. The lack of power by this version of the Cubs has been masked this season, mostly by winning ballgames but without Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez in the starting lineup on Tuesday, Piniella ran out a lineup that featured just 31 total home runs on the season….Matt Murton added one on Tuesday. There is enough talent on this team to win games without Soriano but players with the names of Jones, Murton, Floyd and DeRosa will have to step up and help a struggling Derrek Lee lead this team.

Once again the Cubs showed a lot of patience in the 1st inning and made Woody Williams work. Ryan Theriot led off the game with a 4-pitch walk and advanced to 3rd on a single by Mike Fontenot. Derrek Lee walked on 4 pitches and after a near miss at a grand slam, Cliff Floyd walked to force in the first run of the game. Mark DeRosa worked the count to 2-2 but struck out for the first out. Jacque Jones swung at the first pitch (after Williams had already walked 3 batters) and hit a soft liner to short for the second out. Jason Kendall worked the count to 3-2 but flied out to right to end the inning. Although the Cubs scored a run in the inning, it felt like they gave up 10.

Eric Patterson led off the 2nd inning with his first career Major League hit. Sean Marshall sacrificed him to 2nd but Ryan Theriot swung at the first pitch and popped out to Mark Loretta. Fontenot grounded out to 1st to end the inning.

The Cubs loaded the bases once again in the 3rd. Floyd reached on an infield single and DeRosa followed with a single to left. Jacque Jones was ahead in the count 2-0 before popping out to left. His at bat prompted the following response from Ron Santo, “Just a bad swing at a bad pitch.” Jason Kendall walked to load the bases but Eric Patterson struck out swinging to end the inning.

After the Kendall walk the Cubs did not manage another hit or base runner until the Murton home run in the 7th. Ryan Theriot followed with a bloop single to right and advanced to 2nd on an error by Lance Berkman. Fontenot struck out, Theriot advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch but Derrek Lee struck out and Floyd grounded out to short to end the inning.

The Cubs were retired in order in the 8th and 9th innings. Four of the last six outs were strikeouts including the last three outs of the game.

Sean Marshall was in cruise control until the 6th inning. He retired the Astros in order in the 1st on 10 pitches. He gave up the home run to Lane in the 2nd but a well-timed double play offset the 3 hits he gave up in the inning. Marshall retired the Astros in order in the 3rd, 4th and 5th innings….with just 7 pitches in the 4th.

Brad Ausmus doubled to left to lead off the 6th….it just missed being a home run and the fireworks were actually set off. Chris Burke pinch hit for Woody Williams and sacrificed him to 3rd. With the infield in, Craig Biggio singled up the middle to break the tie game. Mark Loretta hit a slow roller up the 3rd base line and it stopped on the line for an infield single. Lance Berkman singled to right and Biggio beat out Floyd’s throw for the 3rd run of the game. Piniella went to his pen for Kerry Wood with runners on 1st and 2nd and only 1 out.

Carlos Lee doubled to left center off of Wood, Loretta scored and with runners on 2nd and 3rd, Ty Wigginton singled up the middle for the 5th run of the game.

Wednesday is a new day….

Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to take the mound on Wednesday night against Roy Oswalt. The Cubs need their ace to pitch a gem and the offense has to put wood on the ball.

Quote of the Day

"Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow." - Plato
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