Game One Hundred Forty-Four – Cubs 3 Cardinals 4
WP – Chris Perez (3-2) LP – Carlos Marmol (2-4) Save – None
What happened to the swagger? The Cubs lost for the 8th time in 9 games on Tuesday night on a check swing by Cesar Izturis in the bottom of the 9th. Carlos Marmol faced the minimum in the 8th but gave up a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to start the final inning. Brendan Ryan pinch ran for Molina and advanced to 2nd on a balk by Marmol. Home plate umpire, Balkin’ Bob Davidson made the right call and put the eventual winning run into scoring position.
Felipe Lopez walked and Brian Barden followed with his first career sacrifice bunt. Cesar Izturis then checked his swing on a 2-1 pitch from Marmol and the weak grounder allowed Brendan Ryan to get a good jump off of 3rd. Ryan slid past Soto and touched home plate with his hand….ballgame over.
The difference in the game….the Cardinals executed the fundamentals of baseball and the Cubs simply did not.
The Cubs lead going into the 6th inning 3-0 but could not add on. A 1-out single in the 1st inning by Ryan Theriot followed by back-to-back doubles by Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead. Aramis Ramirez came through with a 2-out RBI single to right in the 3rd that plated Ryan Theriot with the Cubs third run.
They left 8 on base in the first 7 innings, including the bases loaded in the 6th and could not take advantage of a miscue in left by Rick Ankiel in 4th. The Cubs put the leadoff hitter on in both the 8th and 9th innings but double plays from Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano ended each frame before they ever got started.
Ryan Dempster put together another quality start but made one mistake….and it was a big one. Skip Schumaker led off the 6th with a double to left. It was the first time in the game the Cardinals put the leadoff batter on. Aaron Miles, subbing for the injured Troy Glaus who left with a right shoulder strain in the 3rd inning, pushed a bunt past Dempster that Mike Fontenot could not make a play on. Albert Pujols followed and launched Dempster’s first pitch into the stands in right center.
After the winning run scored, the team was shown in the dugout and they appeared dejected and stunned as they starred at the field.
Once again the Cubs had plenty of chances to put this game away and they are 1-6 in the season’s final month…. The game started out on an incredibly positive note. They plated 2 runs in the 1st inning off Kyle Lohse (he had allowed only 9 first inning runs in 30 starts before Tuesday). Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hit the ball with authority for the first time in the last 7 games and Ramirez recorded his first RBI in 9 games. Lou Piniella’s crew looked like the team that was on the field in August….not in September.
The turning point came in the top of the 6th inning. The Cubs loaded the bases with 1-out. Tony LaRussa went to his pen and replaced Kyle Lohse with rookie Jason Motte. Ryan Dempster struck out swinging for the second out and Alfonso Soriano stepped in.
Soriano worked the count to 2-2 before flying out to the track in right center. A couple of more feet….but Soriano’s inability to get just a single changed the momentum.
The Cubs lack of execution and players not doing their job within the game cost them another game.
Ted Lilly is scheduled to face Braden Looper on Wednesday night in game two of the series.