Z Streak Snapped

Game Forty-Three – Cubs 6 Pirates 7
WP – Damaso Marte (3-0) LP – Carlos Marmol (1-1) Save – Matt Capps (10)

Carlos Marmol started the 9th in his typical fashion, with a strikeout, but a bloop infield single on a 0-2 pitch to Freddy Sanchez changed the inning. Nate McLouth followed with a home run that just made it into the basket in right. It was only the second long ball of the season allowed by Marmol….but unfortunately turned out to be the difference in the game.

Carlos Zambrano simply did not have it on Saturday afternoon at the old ballpark. Alfonso Soriano was responsible for 5 of the Cubs’ 6 runs and Big Z was staked to an early 4-2 lead. Zambrano allowed a bad at bat in the 4th inning to change his entire outing. Zach Duke struck out Zambrano and as Z was heading back to the dugout broke his bat over his left knee….he was never the same. Zambrano lost his composure for the first time this season and his team lost for the first time this year to the Pirates.

Lou Piniella’s comments following the game said it all….”I don’t see the need to break a bat over your knee with a 4-2 lead.

Zach Duke once again gave up more than his fair share of hits to the Cubs but limited them to 4 runs. Alfonso Soriano finished the day 5-for-5 with his 9th and 10th home runs of the year. Soriano tied the game in the 7th with a solo shot to left and recorded his first 5-hit game of the year….and for the second day in a row hit two home runs. Soriano has hit 7 home runs in the last 6 games and is 20-for-37 (.541) on the homestand with 7 home runs and 15 RBI’s.

The largest crowd of the year saw the Cubs battle back with 2 outs in the 9th. Alfonso Soriano reached on a double to left center that stuck in the vines. Ryan Theriot followed, worked the count to 3-2 before singling to right to plate Soriano. Derrek Lee stepped in and hit a drive into right center….that looked and sounded much better off the bat than the result, Lee flied out to Xavier Nady to end the game.

Lou Piniella’s crew lost for only the second time this season (22-2) when scoring 4 or more runs. With the loss, the Cubs are 7-2 on the 10-game homestand.

The difference in Saturday’s game was the extra chances the Cubs gave the Pirates. Derrek Lee turned in a couple of great plays but the Pirates defense, especially Xavier Nady, in the last two innings kept the Cubs off the bases. Geovany Soto had two passed balls, one led to a run, and the Cubs appeared just a step behind all afternoon….with the exception of Alfonso Soriano.

Carlos Zambrano was not sharp early on but appeared to have enough to put in another quality start. Zambrano gave up an unearned run in 2nd inning after the first passed ball of the day by Geovany Soto. Zambrano issued a 1-out walk to Doug Mientkiewicz. With Ronny Paulino at the plate, Soto misplayed an inside pitch that allowed Mientkiewicz to move into scoring position. Paulino popped out to right but Brian Bixler singled to left to drive in Mientkiewicz with the game’s first run.

The Cubs scored 3 runs in the 2nd inning and Zambrano retired the Pirates in order in the 3rd on just 6 pitches….a very good shutdown inning.

Adam LaRoche started the 4th with a double to right center. Xavier Nady grounded out to 2nd, LaRoche advanced to 3rd and scored on a single to center by Doug Mientkiewicz. Zambrano then struck out Ronny Paulino. It was Big Z’s 1,087th of his career and he moved into sole position of 9th place on the Cubs’ All-Time strikeout list. Bixler struck out to end the inning.

Alfonso Soriano got Zambrano the run back in the bottom of the 4th with his 9th home run of the year but Zambrano struck out right before Soriano’s blast on a ball in the dirt. Zambrano took a couple of steps toward 1st and then on his way back to the dugout broke his bat over his left knee. The camera showed a shot of the dugout following Soriano’s home run, the entire bench looked very happy….with the exception of Zambrano.

Zach Duke walked on 4 pitches to start the 5th. Freddy Sanchez singled to center and Nate McLouth singled to center off Mark DeRosa’s glove. The ball was slowed and Duke scored to cut the lead to 4-3. With runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs, Zambrano walked Jason Bay to load the bases. Adam LaRoche singled to center to tie the game and chased Zambrano from the game.

Michael Wuertz replaced Zambrano and allowed the go ahead run to score on a foul out to Kosuke Fukudome. Nady’s sac fly scored McLouth and closed the book on Zambrano after an unassisted double play by Derrek Lee to end the inning. Doug Mientkiewicz hit a shot to Lee, he caught the liner, then dove and tagged out LaRoche for the third out.

Zambrano allowed 5 runs, 4 earned, on 7 hits with 3 strikeouts and 3 walks in 4+ innings.

Michael Wuertz and Scott Eyre did their job in relief. Wuertz retired the Pirates in order in the 5th and Eyre struck out Nate McLouth to end the 7th.

Jon Lieber made his first appearance since giving up 4 home runs to the Reds back on May 7th and gave up a hit in one inning of work. The three outs Lieber recorded were all strikeouts.

Carlos Marmol proved he is human after all in the 9th.

The Cubs first runs of the game came in the 2nd inning. Geovany Soto doubled to left with 1-out, advanced to 3rd on a single by Mark DeRosa and scored on a single to left by Reed Johnson. Carlos Zambrano popped out to Zach Duke on a failed bunt attempt. Alfonso Soriano followed with a single (originally scored as a double but was changed to a single and an error on Jason Bay) to left that bounced off the chest of Jason Bay. The ball rolled into left center and both Mark DeRosa and Reed Johnson scored to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead.

Geovany Soto reached on a 2-out walk in the 3rd inning. Mark DeRosa followed with a double to the corner in left. Mike Quade waived Soto around but Ronny Paulino blocked the plate perfectly and kept Soto from scoring the Cubs’ 5th run of the game.

Alfonso Soriano tied the game in the 7th with his second multi home run game in as many days. Other than Lance Berkman, Alfonso Soriano is the hottest hitter in baseball, but he cannot do it alone.

Aramis Ramirez led off the 8th with a walk. Fukudome followed with one of his few bad plays of the year. Fukudome bunted the ball to hard back to Damaso Marte and Ramirez was thrown out at 2nd. Soto flied out to the track in center and DeRosa was retired on a great play by Marte to end the inning.

The Cubs are not going to win every game. As John Lennon once said, “There will be days like this.” But if Carlos Zambrano wants to continue to be mentioned among the best pitchers in the league, he must quit melting down like he did on Saturday. Losing a game is one thing, imploding and putting yourself above the team is another.

Lou Piniella’s crew will try to win the series behind Jason Marquis on Sunday. The Cubs will face another lefty in Phil Dumatrait. Sunday is an important game for Marquis and the Cubs.

Quote of the Day

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein