Game One Hundred Thirteen – Cubs 0 Astros 2 – 8 innings
WP – Brian Moehler (7-4) LP – Ryan Dempster (12-5) Save – None
After two rain delays and not much offense, the Cubs-Astros game was called on Monday night with 1-out in the 8th inning with Mike Fontenot at the plate and a 0-1 count against LaTroy Hawkins.
Not even a rain delay could wake up the Cubs offense on Monday night at the Friendly Confines. Before the rain and thunder and lighting caused the first delay of 2 hours and 45 minutes, Brian Moehler mesmerized the Cubs offense for the second time since the All-Star break. The Cubs were very aggressive at the plate and managed only 4 hits in 5 innings without a walk against Moehler and for the second time this homestand, the Cubs were shutout at home.
After the delay, the closest the Cubs came to tying the game came in the 7th inning. Geovany Soto led off the inning with a hard single to left off of Geoff Geary. Two outs later, Mark DeRosa pinch hit for Chad Gaudin and hit what appeared to be a game tying home run to left….but the ball died and Carlos Lee drifted back and made a leaping catch with his back on the ivy to end the inning.
Ryan Dempster turned in a solid outing despite walking the eighth place hitter in the Astros’ lineup to force in the second run of the game in the 4th inning. Once the rains came and the sirens blared, Dempster was done for the night after 5 innings and 75 pitches.
With the wild night and loss against the Astros, the Cubs slipped to 41-16 at Wrigley Field and to 21 games over .500 on the season. The Cubs must figure out the Houston Astros pitching staff, and soon. The Astros have had the Cubs number all season and Lou Piniella’s crew has won just 4 of the first 10 meetings. The rest of the division has allowed Houston to get within shouting distance of the wild card spot which could make it real hard on the Cubs for the remainder of the year….the Cubs still have eight games left against Houston, six in September alone.
The offense must start making pitchers like Brian Moehler work. It is amazing they take pitches against the likes of CC Sabathia and Dan Haren but swing early and often against crafty right-handers.
The Astros’ runs came in the 1st and 4th innings. Miguel Tejada reached on a 1-out single to center and advanced to 2nd on a fly out to the track in center by Lance Berkman. The original Cub Killer, Carlos Lee, followed with a single to right. Kosuke Fukudome airmailed his throw to the plate, Tejada scored easily and Lee advanced to 3rd on Fukudome’s throwing error. Jim Edmonds saved a run with a spectacular diving catch on a sinking liner off the bat of Hunter Pence.
The second run came in the 4th after three straight singles and a bases loaded walk. Carlos Lee singled to left center with 1-out and advanced to 2nd on a single to right by Hunter Pence. Ty Wigginton followed with another single to left to load the bases.
Ryan Dempster struck out Darin Erstad for the second out but Dempster threw four straight out of the zone to Humberto Quintero to force in Lee from 3rd. Dempster struck out Brian Moehler to end the inning.
Dempster gave up 2 runs on 5 hits in 5 innings with a walk and 7 strikeouts.
Lou Piniella wanted to give several of his regulars the night off and between all of the delays, the rest of the team did not appear to get into a rhythm with the ‘make shift lineup’.
What makes this one a difficult loss is so many of the games at Wrigley this year have been decided in the last two innings….we’ll never know.
Rich Harden will face the Astros for the first time in his career on Tuesday afternoon. The Cubs offense must make Wandy Rodriguez work and pickup a much-needed win against the hard charging Houston Astros.