Game Sixty-Seven – Cubs 4 Tigers 5
WP – Brandon Lyon (3-3) LP – Kevin Gregg (2-2, BS 3) Save – None
Leading up to the bottom of the ninth, the Cubs had played one of their better road games of the season. The Cubs’ offense struggled again with runners in scoring position (0-for-8) but Micah Hoffpauir’s two-out, two-run homer in the eighth gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead.
Carlos Marmol struck out three of the four batters he faced in the eighth with one of his better outings over the last few weeks. The Cubs were unable to tack on in the top of the ninth but Kevin Gregg took the mound with a one-run lead.
Kevin Gregg walked the leadoff hitter, Don Kelly, on the ninth pitch of the at bat. Gregg retired Brandon Inge on a pop out to shallow right and Jim Leyland went to his bench. Ryan Raburn pinch-hit for Josh Anderson and ripped a hanging breaking ball on a 1-0 pitch from Gregg into the Cubs’ bullpen in left center.
The Cubs left the field as the Tigers jumped up and down around homeplate.
The Cubs once again wasted another strong outing by one of their starting pitchers. Carlos Zambrano notched another quality start and left in line to pickup his fifth win of the season. Zambrano made only one mistake all night. He served up a two-run homer to Brandon Inge, his 17th of the year, on a 2-1 pitch in the seventh that gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead.
Derrek Lee extended his career-high hitting streak to 20 games with a double in the sixth that setup the go ahead run. Milton Bradley walked ahead of Lee and scored on a sacrifice fly by Geovany Soto that broke a 1-1 tie.
Lee had another good night at the plate (2-for-3 with a double, a walk, a run scored and a RBI). Not only did he drive in the first run of the game, he set the stage for Micah Hoffpauir’s home run in the eighth off of Joel Zumaya … Lee reached on a two-out single to left.
With one pitch from Kevin Gregg the Cubs went from three games over .500 to just one game above … and all of the positives from the game were erased. While many will point to the Cubs’ offensive woes as the reason for the loss, at least on Tuesday night in Detroit they were facing a quality pitcher … and one of the top young arms in the American League this season. However, when a team battles all night long just to see their closer serve up a walk-off home run it can have lasting effects. How the Cubs’ respond on Wednesday will set the stage for the remainder of the road trip.
The Cubs took advantage of Edwin Jackson’s command issues in the first inning. Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Theriot led off the game with singles. Milton Bradley walked to load the bases … with no outs. Derrek Lee followed with a weak grounder to short. Soriano scored and Lee beat Placido Polanco’s throw to first. With runners on first and third with one out, Micah Hoffpauir struck out and Geovany Soto grounded out to short to end the inning.
One run with the bases loaded and no outs is not good production but Edwin Jackson settled down after a visit from the Tigers’ pitching coach, Rick Knapp.
Jackson retired the Cubs in order in the second and third innings.
Derrek Lee and Micah Hoffpauir walked to start the fourth but Jackson settled down again. Geovany Soto and Kosuke Fukudome both struck out swinging and Mike Fontenot flied out to center on a 1-0 pitch to end the inning.
Milton Bradley was at the plate in the fifth when Andres Blanco was thrown out attempting to steal second … and Bradley used that to his advantage in the sixth. Bradley walked to start the inning and advanced to third on the Cubs’ first extra base hit of the road trip, a double to left by Derrek Lee. Jackson struck out Hoffpauir for the first out of the inning.
Geovany Soto, who was replaced by Koyie Hill in the bottom of the eighth after pulling his hand off the bat striking out to end the top of the inning, put together a very good at bat. Jackson fell behind 2-0 before getting even. Soto took ball three then flied out to right center. Bradley tagged and scored the go ahead run … at the time.
The Cubs managed only four hits off of Edwin Jackson but the four walks and seven strikeouts ran up his pitch count. The Cubs plated a pair of runs off of Jackson … but again it should have been more.
Wednesday is a new day and one that will tell a lot about the makeup of this version of the Chicago Cubs.
Rich Harden is scheduled to face Rick Porcello on Wednesday night in Detroit.