Game One Hundred Seventeen – Cubs 3 Rockies 6
WP – Matt Herges (1-0) LP – Kerry Wood (0-1) Save – Manny Corpas (9)
Lou Piniella’s crew finished their 7-game road trip with a disappointing loss to the Rockies and ended up with a split in the 4-game series. The Cubs managed only 3 runs off of Tim Harikkala, who was making his first start at the big league level since 1996. The Cubs offense once again went stone cold after the 3-run 4th inning as the Rockies bullpen retired 16 of the last 17 batters they faced. The Cubs were outscored 26-5 after the 5th inning in the last 7 games.
Sean Marshall was effective once again but did not receive any run support. He allowed 3 runs on 6 hits in 5 innings with 2 walks and a strikeout. Jacque Jones made two sensational catches with Marshall on the mound that kept the Rockies out of big innings. Kerry Wood relieved Marshall in the 6th; he could not find the strike zone and gave up 3 runs after a 1-out walk to Geronimo Gil, the 8th place hitter in the Rockies lineup. With the loss the Cubs dropped back to 3 games above .500 and finished their recent 20-game stretch with a 9-11 record. The Cubs should benefit from a much-needed day off on Monday. On a day they should have shown a lot of patience at the plate, they did not. Derrek Lee and Jason Kendall were the only two Cubs to take a walk and they did not make a career minor leaguer work early in the game. The Rockies bullpen, that included LaTroy Hawkins, did not allow a hit or baserunner until Jason Kendall walked with 1-out in the 9th….14 batters in a row.
The Cubs offense had chances to score in the first two innings of the ballgame. In the 1st inning they had two on with 1 out and came away empty and then in the 2nd inning, both Mark DeRosa and Mike Fontenot reached on singles to start the inning. Jason Kendall popped out, Felix Pie looked at strike three and Sean Marshall grounded out to 1st to end the inning. They left 3 on base and were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.
Ryan Theriot led off the 3rd with what appeared to be a bunt single after the throw from Geronimo Gil hit him in the back. But 1st base umpire, Ed Montague, called him out for being out of the baseline. Piniella argued, Theriot was furious but the end result was a missed call at 1st base for the second time in as many days. Derrek Lee singled to center with 2 outs but Matt Murton popped out to 3rd for the final out….
The Cubs offense finally got on the board against Harikkala in the 4th. DeRosa and Fontenot both reached on singles. Piniella called for the hit and run with Jason Kendall at the plate. Kendall hit the ball through the vacated hole at 3rd, DeRosa scored and Fontenot advance to 3rd. Felix Pie was robbed of an extra base hit down the 1st base line by Todd Helton, Fontenot scored on the play. Sean Marshall followed with a single to left. Theriot then singled to right to score Kendall with the Cubs final run of the day….Theriot’s single would also turn out to be the final hit of the game for the Cubs. Jacque Jones grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning off of reliever Matt Herges.
The Rockies scored 2 runs in the 2nd inning after a 1-out walk to Ryan Spliborghs. Clint Barmes followed with a double to left center to plat Spliborghs and with 2-outs and Barmes at 3rd, Tim Harikkala reached on an infield single just past the mound. Barmes scored….both the hit and the RBI was the first of Harikkala’s career at the big league level.
After a 1-out single by Matt Holliday in the 3rd. Jacque Jones robbed Todd Helton of an extra base hit on a great running catch in right center, Jones actually ran into the wall and held on. Garrett Atkins followed with a bloop single to left and Marshall retired Spilborghs on a ground out to 1st.
Marshall retired the Rockies in order for the first time in the 4th inning.
Jacque Jones made another great running catch on a ball hit down the right field line by Kaz Matsui. Troy Tulowitzki then homered to left to tie the game at 3. Matt Holliday reached on a hustle double after blooping a ball over Fontenot’s head in right center. Todd Helton grounded out to Derrek Lee to end the inning and Marshall’s outing. Marshall threw 84 pitches, 54 for strikes.
Kerry Wood took the mound in the 6th. After retiring pinch hitter Cory Sullivan, Wood walked Gil (the Rockies rookie catcher, he does not have a hit a the Major League level) and gave up the first career hit to Ian Stewart, a double to right. Wood intentionally walked Matsui and Tulowitzki followed with a double off the right field wall. Two runs scored and Holliday then grounded out to short to score Matsui for the third run of the inning. Wood threw 22 pitches in his inning of relief, only 9 found the strike zone.
Michael Wuertz and Ryan Dempster pitched the final two innings. They did not give up any additional runs but gave up a hit, a walk and a stolen base while throwing a combined 34 pitches. Dempster threw only 7 strikes out of his 17 pitches thrown.
The Cubs get a day off on Monday, their first in 3 weeks. Not only will the pitching staff benefit but hopefully Derrek Lee as well. The Cubs are expected to have Aramis Ramirez back in the lineup on Tuesday when they open a 3-game series against Aaron Harang and the Reds. The Cubs play 17 of their next 23 at Wrigley Field. Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to pitch the opener on Tuesday night.