Game Ten – Cubs (ss) 3 White Sox (ss) 4
WP – Jeff Marquez (1-0) LP – Marcos Mateo (0-1) Save – None
One month from Friday the Cubs kick off the 2009 regular season in Houston but between then and now there is still a lot of exhibition baseball left to play. The Cubs lost their third straight on Thursday afternoon…and second in a row to the White Sox.
Lou Piniella’s offense was non-existent until the bottom of the ninth inning. The Cubs starting lineup featured a red-hot Mike Fontenot, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano but it was pinch hitters Ryan Theriot and Reed Johnson that drove in all three runs in the game’s final frame.
Aaron Heilman was not as sharp as he was in his first outing, but just as effective. Heilman walked a pair but located his change-up and ran his spring scoreless innings streak to five. Heilman struck out three and allowed only one hit in three innings of work.
Kevin Gregg was very good once again despite walking the Sox leadoff hitter in the sixth. Jose Ascanio made his spring debut and tossed a shutout inning with two strikeouts.
Marcos Mateo surrendered the first two runs of the game in the fourth and Ken Kadokura gave up a pair in the ninth.
Former Cub farmhand Josh Kroeger drove in all four of the Sox runs on Thursday…and even caught the final out of the game with the tying run on base. Other than Aaron Heilman’s outing, the other highlights from Thursday were Mike Fontenot and Paul Bako. Fontenot was 2-for-4 with two singles. For the spring, “Little Babe Ruth” is 9-for-23 with 2 doubles, 2 triples and a home run (.391/.417/.783). Paul Bako in a battle with Koyie Hill for the back-up catcher’s job threw out two runners on Thursday.
Aaron Heilman did not pickup where he left off against the Sox last Saturday, but it was close. Heilman threw strikes for the most part and continued to make his case for the fifth spot in the rotation. Heilman threw 52 pitches in three innings, 29 for strikes.
The Cubs’ runs all came in the bottom of the ninth after Jake Fox led off the inning with a bloop single down the right field line. Mike Fontenot struck out and Doug Deeds reached on what should have been a 1-6-3 double play to end the game.
Lucas Harrell made a bad throw to second and Fox and Deeds both reached safely. Paul Bako worked the count and ended up walking to load the bases. Ryan Theriot pinch hit for Darwin Barney and drove in the Cubs’ first run of the day with a sacrifice fly to left center.
Lou Piniella went to his bench again and brought in Reed Johnson for Andres Blanco…Paul Bako advanced to second on defensive indifference. Like Theriot and Bako, Johnson worked the count and ended up driving in two runs with a single to center. Richie Robnett followed and flied out to Josh Kroeger in left to end the inning…and the game.
Ryan Dempster is slated to make his second start on Friday at HoHoKam against the Dodgers. Randy Wolf will start for Joe Torre with Jeff Weaver and Eric Stults penciled in on the Dodgers’ pitching list. The game will be on WGN Radio (and XM Radio) with Pat and Ron.