Hungover – Cubs 0 Pirates 3

Game One Hundred Ten – Cubs 0 Pirates 3
WP – Jeff Karstens (1-0) LP – Jason Marquis (6-7) Save – John Grabow (1)

After scoring 31 runs in four games in Milwaukee with hit after hit, Lou Piniella’s crew was shutout for the first time this season at Wrigley Field by the new-look Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs offense was very aggressive early in the game against Jeff Karstens and made his first start at the big league level this season a very successful one. The Cubs reportedly did not have much film or a scouting report on Karstens and they did not take the time to build one at the beginning of the game. A lot of the success in Milwaukee started with their patience at the plate and a big reason for the letdown, offensively, on Friday can be traced to not working the count….four Cubs’ pitchers tossed 157 pitches while four Pirates’ pitchers threw 139.

Piniella said after the game, “I don’t see why there should be a hangover. There’s 54 games to go. You get a hangover this quick. I don’t think that’s an excuse. Give their pitchers credit. They pitched a good ballgame, they played well and they beat us.

Jason Marquis set the tone for the afternoon in the 1st inning of the game. Marquis struggled with his command and once again a hit batsman led to the first run he allowed. Marquis left after allowing 3 runs on 8 hits with a walk and 2 strikeouts in 6 innings….technically a quality start.

The Cubs offense managed only 5 hits on the afternoon with 7 walks and left 8 on base. They had plenty of chances to squeak out a win but left the bases loaded in the 4th and two on in both the 5th and 6th innings. The Pirates were able to turn four double plays on the afternoon, one in the 8th and one in the 9th that ended the game.

The Pirates won for just the second time in 7 games at Wrigley Field this season.

The loss on Friday afternoon was just the 15th of the season at home (39-15) and the Cubs are still 20 games over .500 on the season.

Lou Piniella should be able to use Friday’s loss to his advantage. First, any team can beat any other team on any given day and second the Cubs can be assured that teams, especially those toward the bottom of the standings, will give the Cubs their best effort for the remainder of the season. Teams will be looking to knock the Cubs out of first place and keep them from winning the Central Division.

Friday is a perfect example. While the Cubs were just flat, the Pirates played a good game and received contributions from the bottom of their order….and as always Jack Wilson. The new-look Pirates had only 13 players that were on their 25-man roster on Opening Day….and they beat the first place team in their division with the best home record in the National League.

Lou Piniella’s crew must come to the park everyday ready to play. They will lose games and they will get beat….but the effort on Friday afternoon cannot be duplicated again the rest of the season.

Jason Marquis must step up his performance. Teams are only as good as the starting pitcher for the day and Marquis must start throwing strikes and setting a rhythm. He is losing ballgames while trying to make a perfect pitch….so what would be the difference if he just pitched to contact?

The Pirates scored two of their three runs in the 2nd inning after Marquis hit Ryan Doumit to begin the inning on a 1-1 pitch. Andy LaRoche reached on an infield single but Marquis struck out Brandon Moss. Jason Michaels followed with a single to right that plated Doumit with the game’s first run.

Jack Wilson, who always plays his best ball against the Chicago Cubs, stepped in and drove in LaRoche with a single to left. Jeff Karstens sacrificed both runners into scoring position and if not for a good catch by Mike Fontenot in shallow right, Luis Rivas would have driven in two more in the 2nd inning. As is turned out, the two the Pirates scored in the 2nd would be all Jeff Karstens would need.

Jason Michaels hit a solo home run in the 6th that accounted for the Pirates third run….the fourth home run allowed by Marquis in his last two home starts.

Jeff Samardzija pitched a scoreless 8th with 2 strikeouts and a walk but Carlos Marmol was just plain nasty for the first time in a long time….Marmol struck out the side in the 9th on just 16 pitches, 10 for strikes.

With all of the hype heading into the series with the Brewers, the way the Cubs performed and with the fact they were facing an unknown pitcher the next day, with Jason Marquis on the mound, the outcome was almost predictable. Not a good start to the month….but it was only one game.

Ted Lilly is scheduled to face Paul Maholm on Saturday just after noon. The Cubs must bounce back with a solid win and make Friday a distant memory.

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney