Game One Hundred Fifty-Nine – Cubs 1 Brewers 5
WP – Seth McClung (6-6) LP – Sean Marshall (3-5) Save – None
Lou Piniella’s crew lost for the first time at Miller Park this season on Friday night after a poorly played ballgame. Other than Ryan Dempster the Cubs looked tired and did nothing against Jeff Suppan and Seth McClung at the plate. The Cubs ran themselves out of two innings and a rare catcher’s interference call on Koyie Hill and a balk by Chad Gaudin opened the door for the Brewers 3-run 7th inning. After the error and balk, Rickie Weeks followed a single by Mike Cameron with a 3-run home run to left that put the game away.
Jim Edmonds hit his 20th home run of the year, 19th as a Cub, in the 2nd, the lone offensive highlight of the game. Two base running blunders cost the Cubs scoring chances. The Cubs put the lead off runner on in three straight innings but failed to add to their lead before Suppan left after 5 innings. Seth McClung gave up a hit and walked a batter in 4 innings of relief with 6 strikeouts. McClung overpowered the Cubs offense.
Ryan Dempster pitched a solid game and the only run he allowed came off a misplayed ball in left by Alfonso Soriano in the 2nd inning. Corey Hart reached on a bloop single to left with one out and scored on a double by Jason Kendall that sailed over the head of Soriano. The Cubs defense in left in right gave the Brewers extra opportunities but Dempster surrendered the 1 run on 4 hits with a walk and 4 strikeouts in 5 innings of work. Dempster pitched good enough to earn his 18th win of the year and if the Cubs needed to win the game to make into the postseason he would pitched longer than he did….Dempster threw 80 pitches, 49 for strikes.
While Seth McClung was busy retiring the Cubs offense, the Cubs bullpen gave up 4 runs to a Brewers’ team battling to stay alive in the Wild Card hunt.
Geovany Soto left the game during his at bat in the 6th inning. Soto swung and missed at a 1-0 pitch from McClung and showed obvious pain in the left hand that has been nagging him in recent weeks. Lou Piniella and trainer Mark O’Neal checked on Soto and decided to remove him in the middle of his at bat. Updates on Soto were not provided during the game.
The Cubs dropped their sixth game of the year to the Brewers. With the Marlins beating the Mets, the Brewers are a game up in the Wild Card race and could clinch a playoff spot on Saturday. Prior to the game Lou Piniella called Friday night a tune-up….too bad his players did not get the message. With the game tied at one going into the bottom of the 6th, Ray Durham led off with a ground rule double to left that should have been caught by Alfonso Soriano. Soriano appeared to short arm the ball before it hit and bounced over the wall. Sean Marshall then issued a 4-pitch walk to Ryan Braun before striking out Prince Fielder for the first out.
Lou Piniella made the slow walk and brought in Jeff Samardzija to face J.J. Hardy. Samardzija fell behind Hardy 3-0 before inducing a pop out to Derrek Lee on a 3-1 pitch. Corey Hart followed with a bloop single to left that Soriano could not get to. Soriano missed the cut off man (Ryan Theriot) and Mike Fontenot’s relay to the plate was late and Durham scored the eventual winning run.
Chad Gaudin retired Jason Kendall to start the 7th but Koyie Hill interfered with Seth McClung’s bat on a 1-0 pitch. Gaudin then balked McClung to 2nd and gave up a single to left to Mike Cameron. Rickie Weeks replaced Ray Durham in the top of the inning and drilled a 1-0 pitch from Gaudin over the wall in left.
Gaudin continued to struggle and walked Ryan Braun. Gaudin picked off Braun from 1st with Prince Fielder at the plate (replays showed the Cubs might have caught a break). Then Fielder ripped a double off the wall on a 0-2 pitch. Piniella brought in Carlos Marmol to finish the inning….and he did by retiring J.J. Hardy on a groundout to Derrek Lee. It was Marmol’s first appearance in four games.
The Cubs offense came out swinging against Jeff Suppan and hit several balls very hard before Suppan slowed the game down to a snail’s pace. Suppan became very deliberate and the Cubs became very impatient at the plate. After the 2nd inning they appeared out of sync at the plate and a lot of it had to do with the fact Suppan was allowed to dictate the pace of the game.
The Cubs did not ‘need the win‘ but they must play better ball over the last two games of the regular season.
Ted Lilly is scheduled to face Ben Sheets in the second game of the series on Saturday afternoon.