Outplayed, Out-Hustled and Embarrassed – Cubs 3 Cardinals 8

Game Eighty-Three – Cubs 3 Cardinals 8
WP – Chris Carpenter (7-3) LP – Rich Harden (5-6) Save – None

Rich Harden accurately summed up Friday’s miserable performance against the Cardinals following his sixth loss of the year. Harden said, “We were outplayed, out hustled. It can’t happen. They outplayed us.” For a team looking to make a statement over the final four games before the break, the Cubs did not show up focused and ready to play on Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cubs are not playing fundamental ball right now and have not for a majority of the season. The sixth inning on Friday summed up the first half of the season. Poor pitching, poor defense and lackadaisical play that finds them a game under .500 once again this year.

After a 38-minute rain delay, the Cardinals came out swinging against Rich Harden. Skip Schumaker doubled on Rich Harden’s first pitch and scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly to right by Ryan Ludwick. The Cardinals tacked on two more in the third and the game appeared over at that point with Chris Carpenter on the mound.

The Cubs did not give up early on. Rich Harden led off the third with a single and one out later, Ryan Theriot singled to right. Kosuke Fukudome flied out to left but Derrek Lee came through once again.

Derrek Lee supplied the Cubs lone highlight of the afternoon. Lee hit his 17th home run of the year in the bottom of the third, a three-run shot to right that tied the game at three. But Rich Harden served up his 16th home run of the year to Albert Pujols to start the fifth … and the Cardinals never looked back.

Rich Harden left after the fifth inning (four runs on seven hits with four walks and six strikeouts) and turned the game over to Aaron Heilman … with the Cubs down by only one run (4-3).

For as good as Aaron Heilman has been over the past month, he was equally as bad on Friday afternoon. Heilman gave up four runs on two hits with three walks and a wild pitch in an inning of work. The Cubs defense committed two blunders in the sloppy sixth … one charged error and one dropped fly ball. The Cardinals put the game out of reach in the sixth with a lot of help from Lou Piniella’s crew.

The Cubs pointed to their current homestand as a way to make up ground in the division and finish the disappointing, drama filled first half on a positive note. After winning three of four from the Brewers, then taking the first game against the Braves, the Cubs have lost their last three games … as well as their starting catcher and one of the main pieces of their rotation. The Cubs have been a .500 team so far this season … and their current 4-4 record on the homestand backs up the way this team has underachieved all year.

The Cardinals did everything right on Friday afternoon while the Cubs did not. Derrek Lee and Jeff Stevens supplied the only positives on a day filled with negatives.

Skip Schumaker led of the game with a double to right. Colby Rasmus sacrificed him to third. Albert Pujols (2-for-3 with a home run, a triple, two walks, three runs scored and two RBI) was intentionally walked. Ryan Ludwick, who had a huge day once again against the Cubs, followed with a sacrifice fly to right. Schumaker scored easily from third and Pujols advanced to second. Harden struck out Rick Ankiel to end the inning.

Rich Harden wiggled out of the second without allowing any runs but Colby Rasmus led off the third with a single. Albert Pujols followed with a triple to left. Rasmus scored easily from first. Ryan Ludwick then lined a single to center on the first pitch from Rich Harden … 3-0 Cardinals.

After Derrek Lee tied the game in the bottom of the third, Albert Pujols led off the fifth with a home run to center on a 0-1 pitch from Harden … that landed in the basket. Kosuke Fukudome took an extra base hit away from Yadier Molina or the inning could have been worse. Harden did not fool anyone in the Cardinals’ lineup on Friday.

Aaron Heilman replaced Harden and could not throw strikes. He fell behind just about every hitter he faced, starting with Brendan Ryan. Ryan singled to left on a 3-1 pitch. Skip Schumaker flied out to center on a 0-1 pitch then Heilman walked Colby Rasmus ahead of Albert Pujols.

Heilman walked Pujols on four pitches to load the bases. Ryan Ludwick singled to left on a 2-2 pitch, Ryan and Rasmus scored and Pujols advanced all the way to third. Aramis Ramirez could not handle the throw from Soriano and Ludwick advanced to second on the error … once again Pujols took advantage of Soriano in left and made him make a play.

Rick Ankiel followed and walked on four pitches to reload the bases. Yadier Molina then hit a routine fly into left. Alfonso Soriano called off Ryan Theriot and dropped the ball in shallow left center. Ankiel was forced at second but Pujols scored the Cardinals’ seventh run. With runners on first and third with two outs, Heilman uncorked a wild pitch on a 0-2 pitch to Joe Thurston. Ludwick scored the Cardinals final run of the afternoon.

Jeff Samardzija walked a pair and gave up a hit in his two innings of work. Samardzija was not sharp but did not allow any further damage. Jeff Stevens made his big league debut and retired the Cardinals in order in the ninth.

The Cubs must figure out a way to end the homestand and go into the break on a winning note …

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Ted Lilly will face Brad Thompson on Saturday afternoon.

Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth