Game Forty-Seven – Cubs 3 Astros 5
WP – Shawn Chacon (1-0) LP – Sean Gallagher (1-1) Save – Jose Valverde (14)
Lou Piniella’s crew completed their 13-game stretch with two disappointing losses to the Astros after an impressive win on Monday. For the second night in a row the Cubs jumped out to an early lead just to see it disappear after one bad inning. Derrek Lee hit his 11th home run in the 1st inning following a walk by Kosuke Fukudome. Micah Hoffpauir reached on a 2-out double, his first career big league hit, and scored on a double by Geovany Soto. The Cubs had a 3-0 lead in the top of the 1st inning.
Sean Gallagher followed Ryan Dempster’s lead and pitched from behind early in the game. Gallagher pitched his way out of trouble in the bottom of the 1st with help from a tremendous catch in foul ground by Ryan Theriot. Gallagher kept the Astros’ off the board the first time through the lineup, but Miguel Tejada and Carlos Lee gave the Astros the lead for good in the 3rd inning.
Sean Gallagher gave up 4 of the 5 runs he allowed on the night in the 3rd inning. Tejada singled in the Astros’ first run off Gallagher’s leg. Gallagher struck out Lance Berkman but hung a curve on a 0-2 pitch to Carlos Lee….and the biggest Cub Killer of them all did it once again. Lee’s 3-run home run cleared the bases and the Cubs allowed Shawn Chacon to pickup his first win in 10 starts.
The Cubs offense returned to their free-swinging ways and handed the ‘W’ to Chacon. The Cubs managed just one hit off of Chacon after a 2-out single by Ryan Theriot in the 2nd inning. Chacon retired 12 in a row and 15 of the last 16 batters he faced.
Despite dropping two in a row to a division rival, the Cubs won 9 of the last 13 games and remain 9 games above .500 on the season. The Cubs started the game the way they were expected to against Shawn Chacon. They took pitches, made him work and took advantage of his mistakes. Following a fly out to right by Ryan Theriot to start the game, Kosuke Fukudome worked a walk (one of just two walks on the night for the Cubs and only the 4th in two games) ahead of Derrek Lee….exactly what a number two hitter is supposed to do.
Derrek Lee stepped in and deposited a 1-0 pitch from Chacon off the top of the left field wall for his 11th round tripper of the year. Aramis Ramirez grounded out to short on a 3-2 pitch from Chacon for the second out of the inning. Micah Hoffpauir made his first big league start and recorded his first hit in the majors….a double down the left field line on a 1-2 pitch from Chacon. Geovany Soto followed with a double of his own down the left field line….Hoffpauir scored and Jim Edmonds flied out to left to end the inning.
That was the last runner the Cubs put into scoring position until the 7th inning….
The Cubs offense made Shawn Chacon’s night incredibly easy. A lot of first pitch swinging and not hitting what Chacon was willing to give them.
Sean Gallagher must develop a solid out pitch. All of the runs he allowed came on 2 strike pitches. The turning point in the game, oddly enough, came in the bottom of the 2nd. Gallagher retired the first two batters he faced (Geoff Blum and Hunter Pence on a strikeout) and appeared to be gaining confidence. He quickly got ahead in the count 0-2 to J.R. Towles before giving up an infield single….Aramis Ramirez made a good diving stop but could not throw out the Astros’ catcher from his knees. Gallagher retired Chacon to end the inning but Towles flipped the lineup.
Michael Bourn led of the 3rd (instead of following Chacon) with a single to right on a 3-2 pitch. Gallagher fell behind Kaz Matsui before giving up a bloop single to center on a 2-1 pitch. Miguel Tejada followed with a hard single up the middle that ricocheted off of Gallagher’s leg into right field. Bourn scored from 3rd with the Astros’ first run.
Gallagher reached back and struck out Lance Berkman swinging for the first out of the inning. Carlos Lee looked at Gallagher’s first pitch for a strike then missed his second….but the third ended up in the Crawford Boxes….4-3 Astros.
Miguel Tejada grounded out to Derrek Lee for the first out in the 5th inning. Gallagher then hit Berkman on a 0-1 pitch. Berkman stole 2nd, standing, without a throw from Geovany Soto. Carlos Lee popped out to Derrek Lee in foul ground but Geoff Blum singled to right on a 2-2 pitch….Berkman scored.
Sean Gallagher’s first road start is one he would like to forget as soon as possible. Gallagher allowed 5 runs on 8 hits in 4 2/3 innings with 4 strikeouts, a walk and a hit batsman.
The Cubs bullpen gave the offense a chance at a comeback. They held the Astros scoreless for the last 3 1/3 innings. Michael Wuertz had problems with command again….but Bobby Howry struck out the side in the 8th and for the first time this season closely resembled his 2007 model.
After posting a 2-1 record in games prior to a day off in April, the Cubs are 0-2 in May before taking a breathier…. The Cubs need a day off and they will get to spend it in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to start the first game of the weekend series on Friday against Zach Duke.