Wind Blown

Game One Hundred Thirty-Nine – Cubs 4 Dodgers 7
WP – Joe Beimel (4-1) LP – Ryan Dempster (2-5, BS 3) Save – Takashi Saito (37)

Lou Piniella’s crew dropped their 5th game of the homestand after Ryan Dempster gave up the lead in the 9th for his third blown save of the year. Jason Marquis threw a gem and retired the first 14 batters he faced. Marquis allowed only 2 runs on 4 hits in 7 innings but the bullpen could not hold the lead. Matt Kemp hit a solo home run in the 8th off of Bobby Howry and Ryan Dempster gave up a 3-run pinch-hit home run to Andre Either in the 9th. Five of the Dodgers seven runs came via the long ball and Andre Either’s opposite field home run landed in the basket in left, it was aided by the wind.

Alfonso Soriano had a big day at the plate and drove in all 4 of the Cubs runs. Soriano led off the game for the 7th time this season with a home run to left and gave the Cubs the lead with his 22nd of the year in the 7th, a 3-run shot to left center. The Cubs had Derek Lowe on the ropes in the 1st inning but Russell Martin picked off Daryle Ward from 1st base and changed the momentum of the game. Lowe settled in and allowed only 3 hits after the 1st inning.

The Cubs finished their 10-game homestand with a disappointing 5-5 record and dropped back to 3 games above .500. The Dodgers won the season series against the Cubs, 5 games to 2. When the Cubs take the field on Friday night in Pittsburgh they will be tied with the Brewers for the lead in the division with the Cardinals just a game back.

The Cubs gave away this series to the Dodgers, plain and simple. There was Zambrano’s meltdown on Monday, his baserunning mistake, hitting into a total of 10 double plays in the series, Ward being picked off, missed signals and the bullpen reverting back to their early season form. At this point of the season a team battling for a division title cannot make mistake, after mistake, after mistake and expect to win ballgames. No team or player is perfect but these are fundamentals of the game the Cubs are failing to execute. There is no excuse for a player being picked off a base, and Ward’s pickoff on Thursday was the third time in the last couple of weeks that has happened to the Cubs. Lou Piniella has to correct these problems….and quickly.

While Piniella still has plenty of work to do, his chess match in the 7th inning forcing Grady Little’s hand was a very good managerial move. Lowe had dominated the Cubs’ offense, with a lot of help. He threw sinker after sinker and the Cubs’ offense kept hitting ground ball after ground ball. After the Dodgers’ took a 2-1 lead on a double by James Loney. Piniella decided to intentionally walk Tony Abreu with 2-outs and Derek Lowe on deck. Little left Lowe in the game and he flied out to center. When Lowe took the mound in the bottom of the inning, he gave up a lead off single to Mike Fontenot and walked Cliff Floyd to set the stage for Soriano’s home run. It was a very good move by the skipper.

Unfortunately Ryan Dempster could not make the decision by Piniella decide the game. Dempster had saved his last 13 in a row dating back to June 11th but after a lead off single to Russell Martin and an infield single by James Loney (Loney’s single was originally scored an error. Derrek Lee got a glove on it but was unable to make the out at 1st, it was scored correctly) the decision by Piniella was a distant memory

Grady Little called on Andre Either (4-for-9 as a pinch-hitter this season with a home run and 2 RBI’s) to face Dempster. Either fell behind 0-1 before hitting the home run to left….it appeared to be a routine fly out to left when it left the bat.

Lou Piniella could not have asked for a better outing from Jason Marquis, it is too bad it was wasted.

Lou Piniella has to figure out a way to light a fire under his team. The entire team is pressing, not playing fundamental baseball and are looking very similar to the team that played on the North Side in April and May….they would have a good game, then a bad one and then another good one. Maybe it’s time for Mount Lou to explode again….

The Cubs start a very long and difficult road trip on Friday night in Pittsburgh. After 3 games against the Pirates, the Cubs return to Wrigley for 1-game against the Cardinals before heading to Houston for the last time this season. The road trip concludes with 4 games in 3 days in St. Louis. This road trip is the biggest of the season….now the question is, how will the Cubs respond?

Rich Hill is scheduled to take the mound against Tom Gorzelanny on Friday 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