A One Man Show

Game One Hundred Twenty-Nine – Cubs 4 Diamondbacks 5
WP – Edgar Gonzalez (6-2) LP – Jason Marquis (10-8) Save – Jose Valverde (40)

Lou Piniella’s crew could not mount another 9th inning comeback after giving away an early 3-0 lead. The Cubs scored 3 runs in the 1st inning against Yusmeiro Petit that included a solo home run by Cliff Floyd, the Cubs first of the road trip. Derrek Lee hit his second career inside the park home run in the 3rd but that was all the runs the Cubs would score off of the Diamondbacks’ pitching staff.

In the 9th, Mike Fontenot reached with a lead off single, Daryle Ward followed with a single to left and the Cubs appeared to have a chance against Jose Valverde. Jason Kendall could not get the bunt down, worked the count to 3-2 but ended up striking out swinging. The runners were going with the pitch to Kendall and Chris Snyder threw out Fontenot at 3rd for the second out. Ryan Theriot walked to put runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 outs. Jacque Jones was robbed of a base hit to right by a diving Tony Clark, Clark threw to Valverde for the 27th out.

Jason Marquis could not hold the lead he was given. Chris Young hit 2 home runs off of Jason Marquis that accounted for 4 of the D’Backs 5 runs. Marquis did not give up another run after the 2nd inning but pitched from behind most of the afternoon and left countless numbers of pitches up in the strike zone. The Diamondbacks bullpen threw 5 innings of shutout ball in relief of Petit, they gave up just 4 hits and only 1 walk. The Cubs dropped their second game in a row and finished the 6-game road trip with a 3-3 record. They are only 3 games above .500 with a game and a half lead over the Brewers and a 2-game lead over the Cardinals heading into an off day on Monday.

Typically when a team finishes with a 3-3 record after a very difficult 6-game trip out west, there should be reason for celebration….but not in this case. The Cubs took the first game of the series against a very good, but young, Diamondbacks team and looked primed to win at least one of the final two games of the series. But Piniella’s crew continued their struggles against lefties on Saturday night and gave away the game on Sunday….in large part because of two pitches from Jason Marquis.

Marquis appeared to be battling himself once again, at one point it looked like he was asking for the ball from Henry Blanco and not listening to a word his catcher had to say. Marquis left two pitches to Chris Young, a very talented hitter, but a fastball hitter, up and on the outside part of the plate. All Young had to do was extend his arms and drive the ball out of the park. When a young hitter (pardon the pun) has a .236 average and 26 home runs (before the two he hit on Sunday), it must send some sort of a message to a pitcher not to throw a fastball….but apparently Marquis refused to listen, as well, to the scouting report.

Ryan Theriot led off the game with a walk. With Jacque Jones at the plate, Petit threw over to Conor Jackson at 1st, Jackson missed the ball and Theriot advanced to 2nd base. Jacque Jones followed with a single up the middle. Stephen Drew made a great play on the ball, stopped it from going into center and saved a run. But he decided to throw the ball to 3rd and try to get Theriot. The ball sailed, ended up in the stands, Theriot scored and Jones was given 3rd on the error. Derrek Lee stepped in. Lee swung at the first pitch from Petit and popped out to shallow left….Jones held at 3rd and Lee’s at bat changed the momentum.

The Cubs had a young team throwing the ball around the field and an even younger pitcher on the mound that could not throw a strike, they bailed him out of trouble. Aramis Ramirez followed, he grounded out to short, Jones scored on the play to make it 2-0. Cliff Floyd followed with his 5th home run of the season, the Cubs first of the road trip. Craig Monroe then flied out to the deepest part of the park in left to end the inning….Monroe just missed a home run.

Whatever momentum the Cubs had created in the 1st inning was gone after Marquis gave up a leadoff home run to Chris Young, his 8th lead off dinger of the year and his 27th homer. Henry Blanco doubled with 1-out in the 2nd inning but was stranded in scoring position.

With 1-out in the 3rd inning, Derrek Lee hit a ball off the wall just to the right of straight away center. The ball took a funny bounce and rolled around in the outfield. Lee made it all the way around for his second career inside the park home run. Ironically enough, Lee’s first inside the parker came off of Jason Marquis in 2003 when Lee was a Marlin and Marquis was a Brave.

Craig Monroe led off the 4th with a double to left. Mike Fontenot walked. Henry Blanco flied out to center for the first out of the inning. Jason Marquis bunted both runners into scoring position but Ryan Theriot swung at the first pitch and tapped back to the mound to end the inning.

Ryan Theriot reached on a ground rule double with 1-out in the 7th. Jacque Jones followed with what appeared to be an extra base hit to right center but Jeff Salazar made a nice running catch to take the hit away and keep the tying run from scoring. Derrek Lee tapped back to the mound to end the inning….that was the Cubs’ last scoring chance until the 9th.

When Jason Marquis took the mound in the 1st inning, he had a 3-0 lead but it did not last long. Chris Young took him deep to left for the D’Backs first run of the game. Orlando Hudson walked then Eric Byrnes hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Marquis retired Jackson on a ground out to 2nd to end the inning. Marquis was not sharp in the 1st inning but was effective….just 12 pitches, but that would all change in the 2nd inning.

Marquis hit Stephen Drew on the foot on a 1-2 pitch to start the inning. Chris Snyder hit a tapper to 2nd, Drew advanced but Fontenot threw out Snyder at 1st. Jeff Salazar reached on an infield single up the middle. Fontenot made a good play to stop the ball but could not throw him out at 1st. Jeff Cirillo followed with a single to right to cut the Cubs’ lead to 3-2. Petit attempted to sacrifice the runners into scoring position but Marquis threw out Salazar at 3rd. Chris Young stepped in, Marquis quickly fell behind in the count, 3-1. On the next pitch, Young won the game for the Diamondbacks, his 28th of the year to left….in the 2nd inning.

Marquis continued to pitch until 1-out in the 6th. He gave up 5 runs on 6 hits, walked 3 and struck out 3 in 5 1/3 innings.

According to Lou Piniella it is not the stretch run yet, but the runners will be at the line starting on Tuesday night at Wrigley.

The Cubs get a much-needed day off on Monday before opening a 3-game series at home against the Milwaukee Brewers. Monday is the Cubs last day off until September 20th, they start a stretch of 24 games in 23 days. Alfonso Soriano is expected to be activated before Tuesday’s game and Lou Piniella has said he will hit in the leadoff spot. Rich Hill is scheduled to face Jeff Suppan in the opener.

Quote of the Day

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln

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