Blown in the Bottom of the 9th

Game Eighty-Eight – Cubs 4 Cardinals 5
WP – Kyle McClellan (1-3) LP – Kerry Wood (4-2, BS 5) Save – None

As the old saying goes….Gotta make ’em earn it and Kerry Wood did everything but make the Cardinals earn their first win of the year when trailing after 8 innings (0-32). Aramis Ramirez ended his 0-for-28 slump with a 2-run homer in the 8th inning that broke a 2-2 tie. Carlos Marmol retired the heart of the Cardinals lineup in order in the 8th and Wood took the hill in the 9th with a 4-2 lead.

Wood had converted his last 12 saves in a row and had walked only 9 batters all season….but that all changed on Saturday afternoon. Wood walked Ryan Ludwick and Yadier Molina to start the inning then gave up a double down the 1st base line on the first pitch to Adam Kennedy, Ludwick scored, 4-3 Cubs. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and no outs, Wood intentionally walked Chris Duncan to load the bases.

Lou Piniella brought his infield in and Skip Schumaker hit a grounder to Aramis Ramirez, he threw home to force Molina with the first out of the inning. Aaron Miles pinch hit for Brendan Ryan and popped out to Ryan Theriot for the second out. Wood threw strike one to Rick Ankiel but Ankiel lined Wood’s next pitch into right center past a diving Mike Fontenot. Kennedy scored to tie the game and Chris Duncan beat the throw from Jim Edmonds….ball game over, Cardinals win.

The Cubs played a very good game until the 9th inning. Derrek Lee was 3-for-5 at the plate and was on 2nd when Aramis Ramirez hit his 15th long ball of the year. Mark DeRosa gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the 3rd on his 11th home run of the season and added a triple and a run scored in the 5th. Lee made two sensational diving plays on balls that ended the 4th and 5th innings.

The game changing play came in the 8th inning after the Cubs had taken a 4-2 lead. Ryan Franklin walked Jim Edmonds and gave up a single to Geovany Soto. With runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs, Mark DeRosa hit what appeared to be a sacrifice fly to right. Ryan Ludwick threw a perfect one-hop strike to Yadier Molina to cut down Edmonds at the plate.

The Cubs lost a game they should have won in St. Louis against the Cardinals.

Ted Lilly and the Cubs bullpen, with the exception of Kerry Wood, pitched a very good game against a team that most under estimate. Lilly allowed 2 runs on 7 hits in 6 innings with 5 strikeouts and a walk. Lilly left with the game tied at 2 and was for the most part matched pitch by pitch by Kyle Lohse. Neal Cotts threw a perfect inning of relief in the 7th and Carlos Marmol pitched his first 1-2-3 inning in a long time. Marmol retired Rick Ankiel, Albert Pujols and Troy Glaus on 13 pitches, 8 for strikes.

Lilly gave up a home run to Rick Ankiel, number 18, in the 6th that put the Cardinals on the board….it was the first time in the first two games the Redbirds leadoff hitter reached to start an inning. Albert Pujols followed with a ground rule double to left center that hit on the warning track and bounced over the wall.

Troy Glaus struck out but Lilly forgot about Pujols and he stole 3rd without a throw with Ryan Ludwick at the plate. Lilly got ahead in the count 0-2 to Ludwick but he drilled the next pitch past a drawn in Aramis Ramirez for a double that tied the game at 2. Yadier Molina reached on an infield hit but Lilly calmed down and induced a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Adam Kennedy to end the inning.

The Cubs second run of the game came in the 5th following a 1-out triple by Mark DeRosa….his first of the year. Mike Fontenot was intentionally walked and Ted Lilly struck out for the second out of the inning, it was the 7th straight at bat Lilly struck out. Ryan Theriot followed with single to right that plated DeRosa with the Cubs’ second run.

While many may look at the White Sox-Cubs match-ups as the biggest series of the regular season, long-time Cubs fans know who the Cubs true rival is, and with all due respect to Ron Santo, it is the St. Louis Cardinals. Losing to the Cardinals is never “fun” and it is always difficult to stomach when they drop a game to the Cardinals the way they did on Saturday.

With that out of the way, it is just one game….but it is the bleepin’ Cardinals!

Sean Marshall will try to end the road trip on a positive note Sunday afternoon against Todd Wellemeyer.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax