Z-Agony of Errors – Cubs 3 Dodgers 10

Game Two of Five – Cubs 3 Dodgers 10
WP – Chad Billingsley (1-0) LP – Carlos Zambrano (0-1) Save – None
Dodgers Lead Series, 2-0

Lou Piniella’s crew played their worst game of the entire season in what was deemed a must win before the night began. For all of the struggles and issues Carlos Zambrano has had since the first of August, he did his part and pitched a great game. Zambrano kept his emotions in check and made the pitches he needed to, but the Cubs defense could not catch the ball and two big errors, one by Mark DeRosa and the other by Derrek Lee in the 2nd inning led to the 5-run inning….and the Dodgers took advantage of every extra out and Cubs’ miscue. Four of the five runs in the 2nd inning were unearned, and a missed double play opened the floodgates.

The Dodgers scored five times in the 2nd inning on four hits, three mistakes and two charged errors. Andre Ethier led off the inning with a single to right and advanced to 3rd on a hit and run grounder off the bare hand of Ryan Theriot. Matt Kemp looked at strike three for the first out and Blake DeWitt hit what appeared to be a tailor made inning ending double play to Mark DeRosa. The ball was bobbled, DeRosa tried to flip to Theriot but Loney beat the wide throw and Ethier scored.

Casey Blake followed DeWitt and hit a hard grounder to Derrek Lee. Blake reached on the error to load the bases. Zambrano struck out Chad Billingsley but Rafael Furcal pushed a bunt past the mound that drove in James Loney with the Dodgers second run. Russell Martin cleared the bases with a double to left center on a 3-1 pitch….5-0 Dodgers.

The Dodgers kept tacking on, with a lot of help from the Cubs defense. Manny Ramirez hit his 26th career post-season home run off Zambrano in the 5th that put the exclamation point on the night.

Zambrano allowed 7 runs, 3 earned, on 6 hits with 2 walks and 7 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. Zambrano did everything he could to put his team in position to win and left to a standing ovation….and it was more than deserved.

The Cubs offense was simply pathetic. Jim Edmonds drove in the Cubs’ first run of the night with a 2-out double in the 7th after Mark DeRosa recorded the Cubs first extra base hit of the night. Chad Billingsley held the free-swinging Cubs to only two hits in the first 6 2/3 innings. Billingsley struck out 7 on the night and the only free pass he issued was to Carlos Zambrano.

The offense showed signs of life in the 9th but it was a matter of too little….way too late. With the Cubs down 10-1, Derrek Lee led off with a double to left center. Aramis Ramirez singled, Lee held at 3rd, and Ramirez advanced to 2nd with Mark DeRosa at the plate. DeRosa missed a double to left then drove in the Cubs last two runs with a double to right center off of Dodgers’ closer Takashi Saito.

Joe Torre brought in Jonathan Broxton and he walked Felix Pie. With runners on 1st and 2nd and no outs, Geovany Soto lined out to a leaping Angel Berroa at 2nd base. Kosuke Fukudome struck out looking for the second out….his third strikeout of the night. Daryle Ward worked the count to 3-2 before looking at strike three to end the game.

The Cubs defense, lack of concentration and plate discipline cost them game two of the NLDS. The entire Cubs infield committed an error on Thursday night and tied a LDS record in the process….half of the Dodgers 10 runs were unearned. The four errors were the most for a Cubs team in the post-season since 1932.

Only four teams have come back from a 0-2 deficit in division series play, only one that had home field advantage, so to say the Cubs have their backs against the proverbial wall would be an understatement….

Carlos Zambrano was the only Cub that showed up for the first 6 innings of the game on Thursday night. Zambrano pitched an excellent game, showed very good command and kept his emotions in check while his teammates were busy giving the game away. After Zambrano was removed, the shot in the dugout of a very frustrated Zambrano with first his eyes closed and then a towel over his head painted a very telling picture of a lost night on the North Side of Chicago.

Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano continued their string of awful post-season at bats. Lee and Ramirez did record hits in the 9th inning but when the game was still in question and on the line, they were no where to be found. While Chad Billingsley deserves credit for the way he pitched, the Cubs offense made it easy on him. The approach at the plate was nonexistent and they did not make adjustments during the game. More errors, three, than hits, two, in the first 6 innings is just awful baseball.

Carlos Marmol gave up 2 runs on 3 hits in the 8th in his first action since last Saturday in Milwaukee. The Dodgers’ 10th run came after a throwing error by Ryan Theriot and a single by Casey Blake that plated Juan Pierre….19 Dodgers’ reached base in game two on 12 hits, 3 walks and 4 errors,

The Chicago Cubs were outplayed in every aspect of the game….and should be embarrassed with the way they performed, or didn’t perform, on Thursday night.

Rich Harden is scheduled to face Hiroki Kuroda on Saturday night in Los Angeles. Lou Piniella stated Mike Fontenot or Reed Johnson would be in the lineup on Saturday night and Kosuke Fukudome will not….it appears Piniella benched Fukudome as a result of his poor play in the first two games, but Fukudome is not the only problem. Several of the players need to look at themselves in mirror and step up the way Carlos Zambrano did on Thursday night.

Quote of the Day

"Baseball, just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes." - Ernie Harwell
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