Z Big Picture

Game Seventy-Two – Cubs 4 Rays 5
WP – Andy Sonnanstine (8-3) LP – Carlos Zambrano (8-3) Save – Troy Percival (17)

Lou Piniella’s crew lost their second game in row on Wednesday night at the Trop by only one run. Geovany Soto gave the Cubs hope in the 9th. His 12th home run of the season cut the Rays lead in half….but the impressive young Rays manufactured the win in the 3rd inning when they plated 4 of their 5 runs. Carlos Zambrano left with 2 outs in the 7th inning after throwing his 100th pitch with right shoulder soreness. Eric Hinske took ball one from Zambrano and Geovany Soto stood out of his crouch and signaled to the dugout something was wrong with Zambrano. After a meeting on the mound, Lou Piniella lifted Zambrano much to his objection.

According to a report from the AP following the game, Zambrano will return to Chicago on Thursday to to see team orthopedist Stephen Gryzlo.

The Cubs had plenty of chances to pick up a win in the second game of the series….and the difference ended up being an unearned run in the 1st inning after an error by Mark DeRosa in left that led to the Rays first run. The Cubs took the lead in the top of the 3rd, 2-1, following 2-out RBI’s by Kosuke Fukudome and Ryan Theriot….but the Rays put on an impressive hitting clinic against Zambrano in the bottom of the inning and never looked back.

The Cubs loaded the bases with no outs in the 5th and managed only 1 run. Derrek Lee struck out and Aramis Ramirez flied out to right to end the inning. Lee and Ramirez finished the night a combined 1-for-8 and left 5 on base.

Jim Edmonds left in the 4th inning with soreness in his left foot. The Cubs offense could not string together any hits against the Rays bullpen and once again the comeback was a case of too little, too late.

The Cubs lost their second game, but with Reed Johnson being injured on the final play on Tuesday night and with both Carlos Zambrano and Jim Edmonds leaving early on Wednesday night, this road trip could end up being more important than their win-loss record.

Lou Piniella can no longer brush off his team’s struggles on the road. The Cubs play like an entirely different team away from Wrigley and it is up to the Cubs’ skipper to make changes and find solutions to an obvious problem.

The game, and another road loss, became irrelevant in the 7th inning when Carlos Zambrano departed. Aramis Ramirez summed up Zambrano’s importance to the Cubs a couple of weeks back. Ramirez said, “The Cubs go as Zambrano goes,”….so as the Faithful hold their collective breath until more information is released on Thursday….here is how the Rays won the game.

The Rays first run came after Zambrano walked Akinori Iwamura in the 1st inning. Carl Crawford followed with what appeared to be a fly out to left but Mark DeRosa missed the ball and Iwamura scored all the way from first on DeRosa’s error.

In the 3rd, the Cubs plated a pair with 2 outs to take a brief 2-1 lead. Micah Hoffpauir reached on a 1-out single to center and advanced to 2nd on a ground out to 3rd by Ronny Cedeno….Evan Langoria made another fine play to take away a hit from Cedeno. Kosuke Fukudome followed with a double to the corner in right to tie the game at 1. Ryan Theriot singled to center to drive in Fukudome and advanced to 2nd on the throw to the plate by B.J. Upton. Derrek Lee struck out on 3 pitches to end the inning.

Zambrano walked Iwamura to start the 3rd inning. Of Zambrano’s first 32 pitches of the game, Iwamura saw 16 of them. Carl Crawford followed with a double off the glove of Ronny Cedeno. Cedeno tried to make a diving stop but just slowed the ball up enough for the speedy Crawford to leg out a double (the only pulled hit of the inning). B.J. Upton followed with an opposite field single to right, Iwamura scored to tie the game.

With runners on 1st and 3rd and no outs, Eric Hinske drove in Crawford with an opposite field single to left. Evan Langoria singled to right to plate Upton. Cliff Floyd flied out for the first out of the inning but Willy Aybar drove in Hinske with an opposite field single to left….5-2, Rays. Zambrano walked Dioner Navarro to load the bases.

The ninth hitter of the inning, Jason Bartlett, grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Zambrano allowed 5 runs, 4 earned, on 7 hits with 4 walks and 2 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

Every game is important and some more so than the others. Hopefully, the Cubs suffered only one loss on Wednesday night.

Sean Gallagher will try to salvage the final game of the series and the road trip on Thursday night against James Shields.

Quote of the Day

"From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life." – Arthur Ashe