Game Fifteen – Cubs 2 Reds 9
WP – Edinson Volquez (2-0) LP – Ted Lilly (0-3) Save – None
Lou Piniella’s crew could not complete the 3-game sweep of the Reds and lost for the first time to their former manager on Thursday afternoon. The Cubs offense had plenty of chances against Edinson Volquez but could not string together any hits. Mark DeRosa and Reed Johnson supplied most of the Cubs offense. DeRosa reached in all 4 trips to the plate while Johnson was a perfect 4-for-4 with the Cubs’ lone extra base hit, a double in the 6th. Henry Blanco drove in one of the Cubs runs but left a total of 7 runners on base. Blanco misunderstood a signal in the 4th inning and eventually struck out on a bunt attempt. Mike Fontenot did not fair much better. He was robbed twice by Joey Votto but finished the day 0-for-5 and left the same 7 runners on base.
Ted Lilly dropped his third game of the season after a very good start. Lilly hit the proverbial wall in the 4th inning again and left after 6 innings. He allowed 5 runs on 6 hits with 6 strikeouts and 3 walks. Joey Votto drove in all 5 runs off of Lilly with a 3-run double in the 4th and a 2-run homer in the 6th.
The Cubs are now 1-3 in games started by Ted Lilly. In those losses, the Cubs have been outscored 24-5….in their other 3 losses, the Cubs have been outscored only 17-9. Even with the loss, the Cubs won their third series of the season. The Cubs offense once again struggled against a pitcher they had never faced. Edinson Volquez was impressive at times but the Cubs were unable to take advantage of the opportunities he gave them. The Cubs loaded the bases on two different occasions and managed a total of 1 run….no matter who is on the mound, teams are not going to win many games with that little amount of production. Joey Votto did make a game changing catch on a line drive off the bat of Mike Fontenot with the bases loaded in the 4th inning.
Teams cannot be expected to win every game but Ted Lilly’s performance this season has gone from concerning to alarming. Lilly was cruising along until the 4th inning and a 1-out walk to Adam Dunn opened the floodgate.
Jeff Keppinger followed Dunn with a single to left….it was only the Reds’ second hit at the time. Lilly then walked Edwin Encarnacion to load the bases with 1 out. Lilly was having communication problems with Henry Blanco and quit attacking the zone….he appeared to be nibbling again. Joey Votto then doubled to right center to clear the bases. Lilly settled down with the Cubs down 3-1 and retired the next 6 batters he faced.
Edwin Encarnacion doubled to left with 1-out in the 6th ahead of Joey Votto’s 2-run shot to right field.
The Cubs cut the Reds lead to 5-2 but the Cubs defense, not the bullpen, allowed Cincinnati to put the game out of reach.
Norris Hopper reached on an error by Ryan Theriot in the 7th inning. Ryan Freel attempted a sacrifice bunt, Jon Lieber fielded the ball but Mike Fontenot did not cover 1st base. Ken Griffey, Jr. then stepped in and hit the 596th home run of his career. Griffey’s 3-run blast gave the Reds a comfortable 8-2 lead. Aramis Ramirez dropped Mike Fontenot’s relay throw in the 8th that led to the Reds’ ninth and final run of the game….Paul Bako doubled to right and tried to stretch it into a triple. Kosuke Fukudome’s throw to Fontenot was perfect and so was the relay to 3rd but Ramirez could not hold on to the ball. Bako scored on a 2-out single to right by Ryan Freel off of Bobby Howry.
Michael Wuertz retired the Reds in order in the 9th.
The Cubs only run off of Edinson Volquez came off a 2-out bases loaded walk to Ted Lilly.
Lou Piniella said after the game he thought Ted Lilly threw much better on Thursday afternoon. While the outing was Lilly’s longest of the year, he has allowed at least 4 earned runs in each of his first four starts and 5 earned runs in each of his last three.
Still two out of three is not bad and as long as they keep winning series….
The Cubs and Rich Hill open a 3-game series on Friday afternoon against the Pirates. The battling Bucs will send Ian Snell to the mound and will be looking to return the sweep.