Game Thirty-Nine – Cubs 1 Cardinals 3
WP – Adam Wainwright (4-2) LP – Sean Marshall (2-3) Save – Ryan Franklin (11)
The Chicago Cubs were swept in a three game series for the first time this season…and dropped their fourth game in a row after another lackluster performance on Thursday night in St. Louis. The Cubs scored only two runs on 14 hits in the entire series and wasted three fine pitching performances.
Sean Marshall did his job. He kept his team in the game and made only two mistakes in five innings. Albert Pujols gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Pujols tattooed a 1-1 pitch from Marshall that knocked out the light in the “I” in “Big Mac Land” above the second deck at Busch Stadium…and set the tone for the night. Pujols proved why he is the best player in the game throughout the series.
The Cardinals second run came after a throwing error by Ryan Freel in the third and Brian Barden hit his fourth longball of the season off Marshall in the fourth.
Marshall allowed three runs, two earned, on four hits in five innings. Marshall walked one, an unintentional-intentional walk to Pujols in the third, and struck out three.
Jose Ascanio threw 1 2/3 innings of shutout ball in relief of Marshall. He gave up a couple of hits and stuck out three. Neal Cotts retired the only lefty he faced and Angel Guzman sat down the Cardinals in order in the eighth. The Cubs bullpen did their job as well and gave the anemic offense a chance for a comeback.
The Cubs lone run came in the sixth inning. Bobby Scales pinch-hit for Sean Marshall and reached with a leadoff walk. Kosuke Fukudome drove him in with a two-out single to center.
Adam Wainwright came within an out of recording the Cardinals’ second complete game of the series. Derrek Lee reached with his second hit of the game with two outs in the ninth and Tony LaRussa brought in Ryan Franklin to retire Milton Bradley. Wainwright allowed one run on five hits with a walk and seven strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings.
The Cubs dropped to 0-15 when they score less than four runs.
The Cubs were swept in a three-game series in St. Louis for the first time since August 2006…and Lou Piniella must look at making changes to an offense that is struggling to string together hits, much less runs. The Cubs were out played throughout the entire series by a Cardinals team that looked like they wanted it more. The Cubs pitching staff held their own, but offensively and defensively St. Louis was by far the superior team…and the Cubs looked lifeless and tired as they were hitting weak grounders and routine fly balls.
Ryan Freel’s error in the third led to the Cardinals’ second run. Tyler Greene hit a grounder to third, that looked routine off the bat, but it knocked Freel down. He tried to recover but his throw sailed over Derrek Lee’s head. With Greene at second, Brendan Ryan flied out just to the right of straight away center…Greene advanced to third. Colby Rasmus singled to center on a 0-1 pitch from Sean Marshall.
Ryan Freel settled down after the error and made two above average defensive plays to take hits away from the Cardinals.
Colby Rasmus made two fine defensive plays of his own that took hits away from the Cubs in the fifth…the hardest hit balls of the series by the Cubs.
Friday is a new day…
The Cubs open a three-game series on Friday night in San Diego. Carlos Zambrano is expected to be activated from the DL and is slated to face Jake Peavy. It will not get any easier for the Cubs offense.