Z Big ‘L’

Game One Hundred Fifty-Two – Cubs 2 Reds 5
WP – Aaron Harang (16-4) LP – Carlos Zambrano (16-13) Save – David Weathers (31)

In the battle of staff aces, Lou Piniella’s crew came out on the losing end once again. Carlos Zambrano lost his 4th game in 5 starts against the Reds this year. Zambrano gave up 3 runs in the first 2 innings and left with 1 out in the 6th after allowing 4 runs on 7 hits. Zambrano struggled with his command once again. He threw 100 pitches in 5 1/3 innings. only 57 strikes. Zambrano recorded only 1 strikeout, walked 3 and hit a batter. Carlos Marmol threw a perfect 1 2/3 innings in relief of Zambrano. Marmol retired all 4 batters he faced, and picked off a runner on 1st base, on just 16 pitches. Kerry Wood walked Javier Valentin with the bases loaded in the 8th to force in a run.

Aaron Harang held the Cubs’ hitless through the first 3 2/3 innings of the game. Harang was very impressive once again and showed why he should receive votes for this year’s Cy Young award. Harang allowed 2 runs on 6 hits in 7 innings with 6 strikeout and 2 walks. The Cubs did not record an extra base hit and for the first time in 11 games did not hit a home run. All of the Cubs runs came in the 4th inning with 2 outs after singles by Aramis Ramirez and Matt Murton. Jacque Jones drove in both runs with a bases loaded single to right.

The loss dropped the Cubs back to 6 games above .500 and into a tie for the top spot in the Central Division.

The Cubs have a lot riding on the right arm of Carlos Zambrano….on Tuesday night he simply did not have it. Zambrano pitched for the first time on short rest and struggled from the first pitch of the game. He threw first pitch strikes to only 6 of the first 15 batters he faced and allowed the leadoff runner to reach base in each of the first 3 innings. The Cubs could not build any momentum after their unbelievable comeback on Monday night. Lou Piniella has to figure out a way to string wins together over the last 2 weeks and that will be hard to do if Zambrano continues to pitch the way he did on Tuesday.

Zambrano threw 28 pitches in the 1st inning after a leadoff infield single by Norris Hopper. Zambrano hit Jeff Keppinger but struck out Ken Griffey for the first out. Brandon Phillips singled to center. Hopper scored but Derrek Lee cut off the throw from Jacque Jones. Lee threw to third to get Keppinger, they caught him in a run down and eventually tagged him out (8-3-5-6-3, if you are scoring at home). After missing on the first three pitches of the at bat, Zambrano threw ball 4 intentionally to Adam Dunn. Edwin Encarnacion blooped a single into right, Phillips scored, Dunn to 3rd and Encarnacion ended up at 2nd. Joey Votto flied out to left center to end the inning.

Javier Valentin led off the 2nd with a double to left center. Harang sacrificed him to 3rd. Hopper followed with a single to right, Valentin scored…. a leadoff double to the 8th place hitter?

Zambrano walked Phillips and Dunn to start the 3rd. Piniella got Michael Wuertz up in the pen and after a visit from Larry Rothschild, Zambrano settled down. Encarnacion grounded into a 6-4-3 double play and Votto lined out to center. Zambrano did a good recovery job but it was too late.

Zambrano retired the Reds in order in the 4th and 5th innings. Jacque Jones made a sensational catch that robbed Griffey of an extra base hit against the ivy just to the right of the 368-foot sign. With 1-out in the 6th and the Cubs down 3-2, Encarnacion homered to left for the Reds’ 4th run. Votto followed with a single to right….the last batter Zambrano faced.

Carlos Marmol came in. He picked off Votto from 1st, then struck out Valentin to end the inning. Marmol retired the Reds in order in the 7th. Will Ohman gave up a 1-out single to Brandon Phillips. He stole 2nd with Dunn at the plate. Ohman eventually walked Dunn and Piniella brought in Kerry Wood.

Wood gave up a single to Encarnacion to center. With the bases loaded, Valentin walked to force in Phillips from 3rd. Michael Wuertz gave up a single to Ken Griffey but struck out the side in the 9th.

The Cubs offense has yet to figure out Aaron Harang….he dominated them once again. Harang did not allow a baserunner until Jason Kendall reached on a error by Phillips with 1 out in the 3rd. Phillips made up for the error with a very good play on a ball hit up the middle by Zambrano, he flipped behind his back to Keppinger to force Kendall at 2nd. Soriano grounded out to 3rd to end the inning.

Aramis Ramirez broke up the no-hit bid with a single to left with 2 outs. Matt Murton followed a single to center. Mark DeRosa walked to load the bases. Jacque Jones followed with a single to right….it cut the Reds lead to 3-2. With runners on 1st and 3rd, Kendall struck out to end the inning.

Ryan Theriot singled with 2 outs in the 5th, stole 2nd with Lee at the plate. Lee flied out to right to end the inning….the last runner the Cubs had in scoring position.

The Cubs were beaten by one of the best in the league on Tuesday….hopefully Zambrano took notes.

The Cubs find themselves in a must win situation on Wednesday night. Ted Lilly is scheduled to face career minor leaguer, Tom Shearn.

Quote of the Day

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