Game Eight – Cubs 2 Rockies 5
WP – Jason Marquis (2-0) LP – Rich Harden (0-1) Save – Jason Grilli (1)
For one afternoon Jason Marquis reminded Lou Piniella and Jim Hendry how good he can be when he keeps the ball down…and focuses on the job at hand. Marquis stuck it to his former employer and allowed only one-run on five hits in seven innings with two walks and three strikeouts.
Marquis even helped his own cause and drove in the first two runs of the game with a bloop single to center in the second inning. Simply stated, Jason Marquis did not beat himself…while Rich Harden did.
Rich Harden began the game by striking out the first four batters he faced…and was rather efficient with his pitches, only 13 in the first inning. Garrett Atkins led off the second and became Harden’s fourth swinging strikeout in a row. However, Atkins’ 14-pitch at-bat, that included eight consecutive foul balls, apparently took a lot out of Harden and he was never the same.
Harden was lifted after allowing four runs on five hits in three innings. Harden struck out eight but walked four and in the process ran up his pitch count. Eight of the nine outs Harden recorded were strikeouts and he threw 92 pitches in three innings, 53 for strikes.
Lou Piniella’s staff continued issuing free passes on Wednesday, a trend that must stop. The bullpen walked three in the last six innings but coupled with Harden’s four and the Cubs’ seven-game walk total stands at 38.
David Patton made his Wrigley Field debut and tossed two-shutout innings in relief of Harden. The former Rockie farmhand walked one, struck out three and gave up only one hit. Luis Vizcaino pitched a perfect inning of relief against his former team.
The Cubs offense on Wednesday was Micah Hoffpauir, Derrek Lee and Reed Johnson. Hoffpauir pinch-hit for David Patton in the fifth and drove in the Cubs first run, and only run, against Marquis with a two-out double to right.
Derrek Lee, after a bad start, finished the game 3-for-4. Lee’s first home run of the year in the ninth gave the Cubs a chance at another comeback against the Rockies…but a bad decision on the bases by Mike Fontenot changed the inning. Geovany Soto grounded into a 6-3 double play to end the game.
It was a rough day at the park…and it is always difficult to be beaten by an ex-Cub. While Rich Harden struggled with his command, the turning point came in the second inning. After the extremely long at-bat by Garrett Atkins, Harden walked Ian Stewart but appeared to retire Troy Tulowitzki on a deflected groundout to second base.
The Rockies’ shortstop hit a grounder up the middle, Harden deflected the would-be double play ball toward Aaron Miles. Miles made the pickup and threw to Derrek Lee. Tulowitzki was called safe. First base umpire, Ted Barrett, said Lee came off the bag…replays showed Tulowitzki was out.
With runners on first and second and no outs, Harden walked Chris Iannetta to load the bases. Clint Barmes struck out but Jason Marquis blooped a single into center on a 1-2 pitch…Reed Johnson attempted a diving catch, but two runs scored on the play. Iannetta was thrown out at third to end the inning.
The Rockies tacked onto their lead in the third. Seth Smith hit a one-out home run to center. Todd Helton followed with a double off the base of the wall in right and scored on a single to left by Garrett Atkins…and an error by Alfonso Soriano. Soriano overran the grounder that allowed Helton to score the fourth run off of Harden.
Harden issued two more walks and loaded the bases in the third before striking out Clint Barmes looking to end the inning. Harden hit for himself in the bottom of the inning…and was replaced by David Patton in the top of the fourth.
The Rockies scored their fifth and final run in the eighth inning off of Angel Guzman. Dexter Fowler pinch-hit for Jason Marquis and drove in Clint Barmes with a double to center. Both hits came after Guzman recorded the first two outs of the inning.
Despite the horrible day for the offense, the Cubs still had a chance in the ninth to pull one out. After the Derrek Lee home run cut the Rockies’ lead to 5-2, Mike Fontenot worked a walk against Huston Street. Reed Johnson blooped a single into shallow right.
Down by three with runners on first and second with no outs, Geovany Soto stepped to the plate. Clint Hurdle brought in Jason Grilli to face Soto and he uncorked a wild pitch. The ball did not bounce far enough away from Chris Iannetta, Mike Fontenot paused before taking off for third…and was thrown out.
The Cubs lost to the Rockies for the first time at Wrigley since September of 2006.
The beloved St. Louis Cardinals will make the long trip from Arizona and open a big four-game series on Thursday at Wrigley. Game one match-up, Adam Wainwright against Sean Marshall.