Where’s the Fight?

Game One Hundred Forty – Cubs 1 Pirates 6
WP – Tom Gorzelanny (14-7) LP – Rich Hill (8-8) Save – None

Lou Piniella said before Friday night’s game, “I think we’re going to be in a dog fight for 9 innings tonight,” but someone forgot to tell his team. The Cubs were beaten for the 6th time in 10 games by the last place Pirates and were outplayed in ever aspect of the game.
The Cubs made several errors, committed another baserunning blunder and could not come through with runners in scoring position. They loaded the bases in the 2nd and 8th innings but came away both times without a run. The Pirates played more like the team fighting for the division crown than the Cubs. Tom Gorzelanny continued his dominance of the Cubs and posted his 14th win of the year. The young southpaw held the underachieving Cubs’ offense to 1 run on 6 hits in 7 innings of work. After Friday night’s win, Gorzelanny is 2-1 lifetime against the Cubs with a 0.82 ERA, 2 earned runs in 22 innings.

Rich Hill could not give his team what they needed most after Thursday’s disappointing loss, a quality start. Hill allowed runners in every inning and gave up 4 runs in the first 3 innings. The big blow of the game was a 2-run home run in the 6th by Jack Wilson, the Pirates’ shortstop was 3-for-4 with 3 RBI’s and played his usual stellar defense against the Cubs. Hill gave up 6 runs on 9 hits in 6 innings and lost for the first time to the Pirates.

Lou Piniella’s crew did not start “the biggest road trip of the season” on a positive note. Not only did they lose, but they looked very bad doing so. The Cubs dropped to just 2 games above .500 for the year but did not lose any ground in the Central Division.

If the Pirates played the other 147 games of the year the way they do against the Cubs they would not have let go of their General Manager, Dave Littlefield, on Friday. The Pirates always appear to step up their game against the Cubs. Jim Tracy’s team was coming off a 9-game stretch that saw them win just 2 games and handed the Cubs a very ugly loss. The Cubs must figure out how to play to the level of the Pirates for the remainder of the year or the last place team could keep them from the post season.

The Cubs only RBI on the night came on a pinch-hit double by Ronny Cedeno in the 7th inning after a double by Geovany Soto. Alfonso Soriano was 0-for-5 with 2 strikeouts while Derrek Lee and Geovany Soto had 4 of the Cubs’ 9 hits. The Cubs did not put the leadoff runner on in any of the 7 innings against Gorzelanny.

In the 2nd inning the Cubs loaded the bases after a 1-out walk to Mark DeRosa. Geovany Soto singled to left for the Cubs’ first hit of the night and Matt Murton drew a 2-out walk but Rich Hill grounded out to 2nd to end the inning. It was the 3rd inning that was very frustrating….

Derrek Lee singled to center with 2 outs and Aramis Ramirez followed with a hard hit grounder up the middle that ricocheted off of Gorzelanny’s leg into shallow right. Lee made a wide turn at 2nd and Freddy Sanchez threw behind him to Wilson covering the bag, Lee stumbled and was tagged out. Lee stayed on the ground for a bit with his head down facing the dirt….he knew he made a big mistake. Lee’s baserunning gaffe changed the inning, again and for the 4th time in the last two weeks the Cubs mental lapse on the bases cost them the possibility of a big inning.

After the 3rd inning Gorzelanny settled in. He retired 7 in a row until a 2-out double by Lee in the 6th. Geovany Soto hit a double to center with 1 out in the 7th and scored on a 2-out pinch-hit double by Ronny Cedeno.

Ryan Theriot led off the 8th with a single to right, Derrek Lee hit into a force out and Aramis Ramirez popped out to shallow center. Mark DeRosa drew a 2-out walk against Shawn Chacon and Jim Tracy went to his pen for Damaso Marte after Piniella sent Daryle Ward up to pinch-hit for Craig Monroe. Piniella countered with Jason Kendall and he singled to left to load the bases. Geovany Soto hit a long foul that had home run distance but ended up flying out to right to end the inning.

Rich Hill had another bad outing but the Cubs lackadaisical defense did not help. Soriano struggled in left while Mark DeRosa and Ryan Theriot committed errors. Nyjer Morgan led off the game with a bloop single to left that he turned into a hustle double. Jose Bautista followed with a groundout to 2nd, Morgan advanced to 3rd and scored on a sacrifice fly to left right by Sanchez.

In the 2nd it was an error by Mark DeRosa that led to the Pirates two runs. Adam LaRoche was robbed of a hit by a leaping Derrek Lee but DeRosa could not make an accurate throw to 1st after making an excellent diving stop. Steven Pearce was given 2nd and he scored on a single up the middle by Ronny Paulino. Jack Wilson followed with a double to the corner in left. The ball got away from Soriano and Paulino scored.

Hill retired the first two batters in the 3rd inning on 3 pitches but walked Jason Bay and then gave up a double to LaRoche. Hill settled down and did not allow any more runs in the 4th and 5th innings.

In the 6th Hill hit Paulino with 1-out and then surrendered Jack Wilson’s 9th home run of the year.

Kevin Hart and Scott Eyre combined for a scoreless 7th inning and Kerry Wood gave up just one hit in the 8th.

The Cubs have to figure out a way to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates….PERIOD.

Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to pitch on Saturday night against Ian Snell.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax