Game Forty-Six – Cubs 1 Dodgers 2
WP – Randy Wolf (3-1) LP – Randy Wells (0-2) Save – Ramon Troncoso (3)
Lou Piniella’s crew dropped back to .500 on the season after failing to capitalize in the eighth and ninth innings on Thursday night. Randy Wolf held the Cubs’ offense in check and had a five-hit shutout through seven innings. Bobby Scales pinch hit for Mike Fontenot to start the eighth. Scales quickly fell behind 0-2 against the veteran southpaw. Scales worked the count back to 3-2 then lifted Wolf’s next pitch just over the wall in left center.
Bobby Scales broke up the shutout and appeared to jump start the offense. Joe Torre brought in Ramon Troncoso to face pinch-hitter Jake Fox. Fox singled to center and with the tying run on base, Lou Piniella went to his bench again. Kosuke Fukudome hit for Aaron Heilman and walked. With the Cubs down 2-1 and the tying run on second, Alfonso Soriano struck out swinging on a ball in the dirt for the first out. Ryan Theriot grounded into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play on the first pitch of the at bat…his second of the night and the Cubs fourth twin killing of the game.
Milton Bradley led off the ninth and popped a bunt perfectly between the mound and first base. Bradley beat it out and advanced to second on a single to center by Derrek Lee. Reed Johnson failed to lay down a bunt but ended up grounding out softly to short. Bradley and Lee advanced to second and third…with only one-out.
Joe Torre intentionally walked Geovany Soto to load the bases.
Ramon Troncoso fell behind Bobby Scales 2-1 but ended up striking out Scales on a ball low and outside…Scales tried to check. With the bases loaded and two outs, Jake Fox stepped in. Fox looked at ball one but on a 1-2 pitch from Troncoso swung at a ball well out of the strike zone to end the game.
The Cubs’ inability to hit with runners on base in the last two innings cost them the game. They had plenty off opportunities against the best team in the National League. The Cubs finished the night 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
A team that has aspirations of playing after game 162 must execute the fundamentals of the game, and this version of the Chicago Cubs is sorely lacking in those areas. The loss on Thursday dropped the Cubs record to 0-19 when they score less than four runs.
Randy Wells pitched another great game. He allowed two runs in seven innings on eight hits…one extra base hit. Wells struck out seven and the only walk he issued ended up being the difference in the game.
Aaron Heilman pitched a perfect eighth and Angel Guzman bailed out Jose Ascanio in the ninth. The Cubs bullpen did not allow a run or a hit in two innings on Thursday.
The Cubs’ offense wasted another great outing by a starting pitcher…and it is time for the players the Cubs are depending on this season to start getting the job done. With all of the negativity surrounding the Chicago Cubs right now, two of the bright spots were on display again on Thursday night. Randy Wells has performed better than anyone could have expected…and appears to be getting better. It will be interesting to see how he fares once teams get more tape on him. Wells looks confident on the mound and attacks hitters…instead of walking them.
The other positive is Bobby Scales. While this may be the only big league time he ever sees he is proving to be a true professional every time he takes the field. Scales was sent down on Wednesday, made it to the airport then was recalled…and did not let that affect him. Scales put together one of the best at bats of the night (Randy Wells was the other) against Randy Wolf…and it resulted in a pinch-hit home run.
There are several veterans that could learn something from two players that began the year in Triple-A.
The Dodgers put a run on the board in the first inning…as usual. Juan Pierre led off the game with a single to center on Wells’ second pitch. Pierre quickly stole second and scored on a slugbunt by Rafael Furcal. The Dodgers’ shortstop shortened up to bunt, pulled the bat back and popped it past a diving Mike Fontenot into left field.
Randy Wells struggled a little in the first inning but got out of a first and third jam with one-out. Wells struck out Casey Blake looking and Andre Ethier flied out to left.
The Dodgers tacked on what ended up being the game winner in the third. Wells walked Rafael Furcal on four pitches to start the inning…the only free pass issued by Wells on the night. Orlando Hudson struck out but James Loney hit a soft single to left. Furcal advanced to third as Soriano tried to get to the ball. Soriano threw to third, instead of throwing to second, Furcal was safe and Loney advanced on the poor decision.
Casey Blake grounded out to Ryan Theriot for the second out. Furcal scored…2-0. If Soriano would have thrown to second to hold Loney at first, the Cubs might have gotten out of the inning without the second run scoring.
After the third inning, Randy Wells allowed only three hits…and two were erased by double plays.
Aaron Heilman put together one of his best innings of the year in the eighth. He retired the top of the Dodgers’ lineup in order (Furcal, Hudson and Loney). Jose Ascanio struggled with his command in the ninth and walked a pair. Angel Guzman was summoned from the pen to retire Matt Kemp…and Joe Torre left in Ramon Troncoso with two on and two out in the ninth. Jonathan Broxton was not available and Torre did not trust his other relievers to get the job done. Guzman struck out Troncoso to end the ninth.
Since May 19, Lou Piniella has received a lot of good performances from his pitching staff that has been wasted by the offense’s inability to hit with runners on base. The Cubs have begun a very difficult stretch of games and if the offense does not wake up soon, the season could get away from them quickly.
Ted Lilly is slated to face Chad Billingsley in game two on Friday afternoon.