Too Many Z-ros – Cubs 0 Padres 4

Game Forty – Cubs 0 Padres 4
WP – Jake Peavy (4-5) LP – Carlos Zambrano (3-2) Save – Heath Bell (12)

The Cubs were shutout for the second time in the last four games…and for the fourth time in the season’s first forty games on Friday night. The offense managed only five hits, all singles, but walked six times. The Cubs stranded 13 runners, eight in scoring position and were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Alfonso Soriano’s struggles on the road trip continued; he is 2-for-17 over the last four games. The Cubs have managed two runs on 19 hits in the last four games.

The Cubs loaded the bases in the ninth inning after two out singles by Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Theriot and the third walk of the game by Kosuke Fukudome…but Derrek Lee fouled out to Adrian Gonzalez on a 0-2 pitch from Heath Bell to end the game.

Jake Peavy did not have his best stuff on Friday night…and did not need it. Peavy retired the Cubs in order just once and the offense put at least two runners on base against Peavy in three of his six innings. Peavy allowed only two hits and struck out 10…the 30th time in his career he recorded double-digit strikeouts.

The Cubs offense struck out an astounding 16 times against Padres pitching. Derrek Lee was the only one of Piniella’s starting nine that did not strikeout at least once.

Carlos Zambrano pitched good enough to win. Big Z struggled with his command in the first inning, which led to the Padres scoring their first run without a hit. Zambrano walked Tony Gwynn, Jr. to start the game then hit David Eckstein in the chest as he squared to bunt. Eckstein remained in the game but was lifted for Edgar Gonzalez when the Padres took the field to start the second. X-ray’s were negative and showed a chest contusion (bruise) for Eckstein.

After striking out Adrian Gonzalez, Zambrano walked Scott Hairston to load the bases with just one out. Brian Giles hit a sacrifice fly to center on a 3-2 pitch from Zambrano, his 27th of the inning, which plated Gwynn with the game’s first run.

Zambrano settled down and did not allow his first hit until the third inning.

The Padres second hit was the beginning of the end of the night for Carlos Zambrano. Jake Peavy reached on a bloop single to center, his first hit of the year, and advanced to third on a double by Tony Gwynn, Jr. Peavy scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Edgar Gonzalez…Gwynn advanced to third on Soriano’s throw to the plate.

Zambrano retired Scott Hairston on a pop out to Derrek Lee but Piniella lifted him after 97 pitches with runners on first and third with two outs in the fifth.

Aaron Heilman replaced Zambrano and served up a single to Brian Giles on a 0-2 pitch that drove in Gwynn with the Padres’ third run…an insurmountable lead with the way the Cubs are not scoring runs.

Carlos Zambrano could not end the Cubs’ losing streak. He gave up three runs, all earned, on three hits with four walks, a hit batsman and seven strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.

The Padres’ fourth run came courtesy of Adrian Gonzalez in the seventh. Neal Cotts served up a fastball to the Padres’ first baseman that he hit over the wall in left…Gonzalez’s fifth home run of the year off Cubs pitching, the fourth to the opposite field.

Lou Piniella’s crew set a new low mark for the season with their fifth loss in a row…

To say the Cubs are in the middle of their worst stretch of ball under Lou Piniella would be an understatement. The Cubs are pressing and look lifeless at the plate and in the field. For a team that has aspirations of playing in the post-season if something does not change soon they will be lucky to play .500 ball for the remainder of the year.

Unlike the series against the Cardinals, the Cubs had chances early on against Jake Peavy. Micah Hoffpauir (0-for-4 with four strikeouts) struck out with two on to end the first inning. Alfonso Soriano struck out swinging with runners on second and third to end the second…and Aaron Miles flied out to right with two on to end the sixth. The hardest hit ball of the night for the Cubs offense came off the bat of Mike Fontenot. He ripped a ball up the middle that bounced off Luke Gregerson’s leg right to Adrian Gonzalez at first base….it was that kind of night.

The Cubs fell to 0-15 when they score less than four runs…and to 2-13 when they commit at least one error.

Saturday is a new day and hopefully the Cubs will be able to string together a few hits and score at least four runs.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Randy Wells is slated to face Josh Greer under the lights late Saturday night.

Quote of the Day

"Baseball, just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes." - Ernie Harwell
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