Game Twenty-Six – Cubs 7 Brewers 10
WP – Ben Sheets (4-0) LP – Jason Marquis (1-1) Save – Eric Gagne (8)
For the first time this season the Cubs lost a game in which they scored at least 4 runs as they were out hit on a cold night at Wrigley. The Cubs offense scored 4 runs, 3 earned, off of Ben Sheets, the most the Brewers’ ace has allowed this year, but it was not enough. Jason Marquis struggled with his command, left after just 5 innings and the middle relievers could not get the job done. Marquis was never the same after a 13-minute delay before the 3rd inning. Reports indicated home plate umpire Jerry Crawford left “feeling ill” and was taken to the hospital. Marquis surrendered 5 runs on 10 hits with a walk and 2 strikeouts. But the Cubs bullpen had another rough outing and could not keep the Brewers off the board.
Kevin Hart, Sean Marshall, Michael Wuertz and Jon Lieber gave up 5 runs on 7 hits with 2 walks and only 1 strikeout in the last 4 innings. The Brewers’ 17 hits were the most allowed by Cubs’ pitching this season.
Lou Piniella said after the game, “Gotta sure up the middle to get to the short people. That’s been a problem for a while.” Piniella did not sound to happy, to say the least, with his bullpen.
Ben Sheets set a career high in walks with 7 but only allowed 4 runs, 3 earned, on just 3 hits. Derrek Lee led off the 3rd with his 8th home run and in the process tied Sammy Sosa, Shane Andrews and Lee Walls for the most home runs in the month of April. Mike Fontenot doubled in three runs in the 7th….but in the end, the Brewers bullpen was the difference in the game. The Cubs pitching staff has shown over the first month how good it can be….but on Tuesday night, it was the exact opposite. They struggled with their command, could not throw strikes and when they did, the Brewers put the ball in play. Typically when a team scores 7 runs they end up winning the game but not when the pitching staff allows 10 runs on 17 hits with 4 walks and only 3 strikeouts. Piniella’s reaction after the game would lead one to believe changes are coming….
Mike Cameron made his Brewers’ debut and an immediate impact for Ned Yost on Tuesday. Cameron was suspended for 25-games for testing positive to a banned stimulant for a second time. Cameron was 3-for-5 with a walk, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI’s but several Brewers had multi hit games and Corey Hart was a home run short of the cycle. Lou Piniella’s staff did not miss any bats….every starter for Milwaukee recorded at least one hit.
With the Cubs down 5-4 in the 6th, Kevin Hart replaced Jason Marquis. Jason Kendall singled on the first offering from Hart. Rickie Weeks followed with a single to left and Hart walked Mike Cameron to load the bases. Ryan Braun hit into a fielder’s choice but Kendall scored to give the Brewers a 6-4 lead. Hart retired Prince Fielder on tap back to the mound….1-6-3 double play to end the inning. The 7th inning was when it got very ugly.
Hart started the inning by striking out Corey Hart on a very good breaking ball. Bill Hall reached on a broken bat single to left. J.J. Hardy followed with a single to left and Piniella made the slow walk to the mound. Sean Marshall replaced Hart but walked Tony Gwynn, Jr. to load the bases.
Piniella replaced Marshall with Michael Wuertz and he walked Jason Kendall to force in a run. Rickie Weeks lined out to right for the second out but Mike Cameron singled to right to plate two more runs. The line on Wuertz does not mention the 3 inherited runners he allowed to score. Ryan Braun grounded out to end the inning.
The Cubs offense showed a lot of patience against Ben Sheets but left 12 on base and could not come up with the big hit when they needed it. Jason Marquis drove in the Cubs’ first run with a fielder’s choice in the 2nd inning and both Reed Johnson and Felix Pie drove in runs with sacrifice flies.
While baseball is a team game, the offense did their part on Tuesday.
With the loss, the Cubs dropped into a virtual tie with the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the Central with a 16-10 record.
Ryan Dempster is scheduled to face Jeff Suppan in game two of the series under the lights on ESPN’s Wednesday Night Baseball.