Game Fourteen – Cubs 1 Reds 7
WP – Aaron Harang (2-2) LP – Carlos Zambrano (1-1) Save – None
Wild throws, misplayed balls, mental mistakes and just an overall bad effort sums up the way the Cubs finished out their homestand on Thursday. Lou Piniella’s crew was outplayed in every facet of the game by a much younger and inexperienced team…but the Reds played the game the way it should be played.
The Cubs offense struggled mightily against Aaron Harang and managed one unearned run on the afternoon…their only run over the final 21 innings of the series. Harang allowed seven hit over seven-plus innings with just two strikeouts and one walk.
Joey Votto once again proved he is the newest Cub Killer on the block. Votto tied a career high with four hits…two doubles, a home run, scored a run and drove in a pair. For some reason the Cubs keep pitching to Votto and refuse to back him off the plate.
The game was in reach until the top of the seventh. With the Cubs down 2-1, Brandon Phillips reached on a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a single by Ramon Hernandez. Alex Gonzalez followed with a single to right that would have plated a run, but Micah Hoffpauir misplayed the ground ball, it kicked off his glove and allowed Hernandez to score. Hoffpauir misplayed the triple by Chris Dickerson in the fourth inning that led to the game’s first run.
Carlos Zambrano pitched a good game but committed an error that led to the Reds’ second run in the sixth. In an attempt to keep Willy Taveras from stealing second, Zambrano paid a lot of attention to Taveras and one of his pick off attempts got by Derrek Lee…Taveras advanced all the way to third and scored on a single by Jay Bruce.
Zambrano allowed four runs, three earned, on seven hits in seven innings with seven strikeouts and two walks.
Neal Cotts, who survived the roster move on Thursday morning for some unknown reason, gave up a solo home run to Joey Votto in the eighth that put the game away. The Reds tacked on two more in the ninth off of Jeff Samardzija for good measure…a two-run single to center by Chris Dickerson.
The Cubs offense managed one run on thirteen hits in the final two games of the series…and if the players do not wake up it could be a very long weekend in St. Louis. Losing is one thing but a team with as much talent on paper as the Cubs should not be performing the way they did on Thursday. With Milton Bradley on the sidelines for who knows how long, the Cubs must find a groove offensively. Bradley has not hit, but he was brought in to supply a good bat with average defense. Bradley has not done either one but Lou Piniella must find players that can catch the ball as well as hit the ball. While Micah Hoffpauir, by no means cost the Cubs the game, he is a first baseman playing out of position…Piniella needs to find a happy medium…
The Cubs lone run came in the sixth inning. Alfonso Soriano extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single to left. Chris Dickerson misplayed the ball and Soriano advanced to second on the error…with the Cubs down by a score of 2-0.
Ryan Theriot followed with a single to center that plated Soriano…it was an unearned run.
With the loss, the Cubs finished the eight-game homestand with a 4-4 record and on the year they are 8-6 with a big weekend series ahead of them.
Ryan Dempster will pitch game one of the Cardinals series on Friday night at Busch Stadium against Adam Wainwright.