Game Two – Cubs 2 Astros 3 – 10 innings
WP – Doug Brocail (1-0) LP – Neal Cotts (0-1) Save – None
Lou Piniella’s crew lost their first game of the new season on a bases loaded, broken-bat single by Jeff Keppinger in the bottom of the 10th inning. Neal Cotts started the inning after pitching out of a huge jam in the 9th and the winning run scored off Kevin Gregg.
Ivan Rodriguez led off with an infield single down the third base line. Lance Berkman followed with a weak bouncer in between Aramis Ramirez and Aaron Miles. Lou Piniella brought in Kevin Gregg with runners on first and second with no outs.
Pinch-hitter Jason Michaels hit a deep fly to center. Rodriguez tagged and advanced to third. The Cubs intentionally walked Miguel Tejada to face Keppinger and the former Red beat the Cubs once again.
Ryan Dempster pitched a good game but received no run support. Once again the Cubs offense was shutdown by Wandy Rodriguez. Dempster allowed two runs on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Hunter Pence tied the game at one in the fifth with his second career home run off Dempster. Michael Bourn gave the Astros a 2-1 lead in the sixth with a single to left.
Angel Guzman faced the minimum in the seventh with two strikeouts and Aaron Heilman gave up a hit and a pair of walks in an inning plus of relief.
The Cubs’ offense managed only six hits off Astros pitching. Derrek Lee drove in the Cubs first run with a 2-out single to right…following a Ryan Theriot double.
Alfonso Soriano tied the game at two in the 8th off of LaTroy Hawkins. Soriano hit a Pujolsian blast over the train tracks in left for his second home run in as many games. In typical Soriano fashion he was 1-for-5 with a home run and three swinging strikeouts.
Geovany Soto left the game in the sixth inning with right shoulder soreness. Reports during the game indicated it was for precautionary reasons. Soto apparently felt something when he tried to throw out Kaz Matsui in the third inning.
The Cubs offense simply could not get on track in the second game of a long season…and neither team played what anyone would call a great game. Two things will be lost in the extra innings defeat… Ryan Dempster pitched a tremendous game and Angel Guzman was overpowering out of the pen.
Dempster retired the Astros in order to start the game and did not allow a hit until two outs in the fourth inning…Miguel Tejada. Dempster threw first pitch strikes to 15 of the 26 batters he faced and of the 95 pitches he tossed on Tuesday, 61 were for strikes. Dempster kept the ball down for the most part and seemed to pickup where he left off at the end of the 2008 regular season.
Hunter Pence tied the game at one leading off the fifth. Pence went down and stroked a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left center. The Astros second run came in the sixth…as Dempster began to run out of gas.
Carlos Lee and Miguel Tejada were disposed of by Dempster rather quickly to start the inning. Geoff Blum reached on a 2-1 single to right. Hunter Pence followed with a single to right. Michael Born then went opposite field, his single to left plated Blum but Alfonso Soriano hit the cut off man and Aramis Ramirez tagged out Pence to end the inning.
Koyie Hill made a tremendous throw in the seventh inning to erase an error by Ryan Theriot that allowed Kaz Matsui to reach against Angel Guzman. Guzman kept his cool and struck out two of the three batters he faced…including Ivan Rodriguez looking.
Tuesday was one of those games a team loses during a long season…but 2-0 sure sounds a lot better than 1-1.
Ted Lilly is scheduled to face Brian Moehler in the series finale on Wednesday night.