Game Fifty-Four – Cubs 6 Reds 3 – 14 innings
WP – David Patton (2-1) LP – Mike Lincoln (1-1) Save – Angel Guzman (1)
Neither the Cubs nor the Reds played a good game and both wasted countless opportunities to end the game before the 14th inning. The Cubs finished 4-for-21 with runners in scoring position and left 15 on base…while the Reds were 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 16 on base.
Alfonso Soriano stepped into the box to start the 14th with the game tied at three. Before the 14th Soriano had a horrible afternoon and series. Soriano posted a 0-for-5 effort with a walk and a strikeout and had managed only two hits in the entire series. After using every other pitcher available, Dusty Baker inserted Mike Lincoln and Lincoln tried to get ahead of Alfonso Soriano with a fastball. Soriano launched it into the stands in right center and broke up the tie with his 14th longball of the season.
The Cubs tacked on two more off Lincoln in the 14th to put the game away. Ryan Theriot (3-for-6 with two runs scored, a home run, a walk and a RBI) singled and Kosuke Fukudome walked. Derrek Lee popped out to right but Theriot tagged and advanced to third. Mike Fontenot then hit a ball into the hole at short, Fontenot reached on an infield single and Theriot scored the Cubs fifth run. Reed Johnson doubled to left on a 1-2 pitch and plated Fukudome with the game’s final run.
What does Randy Wells have to do to earn a win? Wells put together another excellent outing and allowed only two runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings with a walk and four strikeouts. Wells even singled and scored the Cubs third run in the third inning. Wells left with a 3-2 lead in the seventh after surrendering his second run on a sacrifice fly to Jerry Hairston, Jr.
Jason Waddell retired Chris Dickerson to end the seventh and preserve the win for Wells.
Carlos Marmol took the mound in the eighth and walked the first two batters he faced on eleven pitches, three for strikes. Lou Piniella wasted no time after Marmol’s second free pass and brought in Aaron Heilman up by just one run with two on and no outs.
Ramon Hernandez dropped down a sacrifice bunt that ended up loading the bases on an appeared blown call by third base umpire Dale Scott. Jonny Gomes followed with a sacrifice fly to center that tied the game at three. Aaron Heilman issued an intentional free pass to Alex Gonzalez to reload the bases…with one out.
Aaron Heilman struck out Ryan Hanigan swinging and retired Willy Taveras on a tap back to the mound to end the inning. Heilman was credited with a blown save but he pitched out of a huge mess created by Carlos Marmol and gave his team a chance to win.
While the Cubs bullpen allowed a bunch of runners over the last six innings of the game, they did not allow one to cross the plate. Kevin Gregg retired the side in order in the ninth and Jose Ascanio tossed three innings of scoreless ball with three strikeouts.
David Patton picked up his second Major League win after giving up a leadoff single to Ryan Hanigan in the thirteenth inning. Willy Taveras sacrificed the winning run to second but Patton struck out Paul Janish for the second out. Patton walked Chris Dickerson with two outs that brought up the Reds’ best hitter with runners in scoring position.
David Patton quickly got ahead of Brandon Phillips 0-2 before retiring the Reds’ second baseman on a lineout to right.
Angel Guzman picked up his first career professional save after allowing a leadoff single to Laynce Nix in the fourteenth. Guzman struck out a pair and might have caused a closer controversy on the North Side of Chicago.
Ryan Theriot hit his first career home run outside of Wrigley Field that gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the first off of Bronson Arroyo. Derrek Lee ended the Cubs hitless streak with runners in scoring position (0-for-21) with a two-out, two-run single to center in the third.
Winning is the number one objective for any professional team and despite all of the bad baseball the Cubs have won seven of their last 11 after the eight-game losing streak. It might be ugly, but right now Lou Piniella’s crew is finding a way to get the job done… The Cubs are two games over .500 (28-26) and are playing like an average team. They are not playing fundamental ball and are leaving runner after runner on base but somehow they are only 3 1/2 games from the top of the division. For as bad as they are playing they are finding a way to stay in the thick of the division.
For as good as Alfonso Soriano was in April and in early May he has been horrible of late (5-for-25 in last five games with two doubles and two home runs) and must be held out of the starting lineup for the first couple of days in Houston. Soriano is not healthy and is not helping his team. The Cubs face Brian Moehler on Tuesday and Wandy Rodriguez on Wednesday and it would be a good time to get Micah Hoffpauir and Jake Fox a few at bats. Soriano has good career numbers against Thursday’s starter Roy Oswalt.
To say the Cubs offense is struggling right now would be an understatement. After Mike Fontenot’s single to right in the third, they did not manage another hit until the 10th inning…a leadoff single by Ryan Theriot. In fact the Cubs four hits in the 14th was one more than they managed from the tenth through the thirteenth.
The Cubs had scoring chances in the eighth, ninth and tenth innings…but came away empty. While the Reds have a very good bullpen, Major League hitters must find ways to score runs…and right now the Chicago Cubs have forgotten how to play fundamental baseball.
Lou Piniella’s crew needs a something or someone to take charge and lead this team for a few weeks in order for the entire roster to gain some much-needed confidence. A win might be a win but the Cubs must figure out a way to play better baseball.
The Cubs will spend Monday in Houston and the bullpen will get a well deserved breathier with the scheduled off day. Ted Lilly is slated to face Brian Moehler in the first of three against the Astros on Tuesday night.