Game One Hundred Twenty-Three – Cubs 6 Nationals 15
WP – Garrett Mock (3-5) LP – Carlos Zambrano (7-5) Save – None
The Cubs took the field on Tuesday night to open an important 10-game homestand … and they responded with a pathetic, embarrassing performance against the Washington Nationals.
The Washington Nationals are playing better ball than the Chicago Cubs right now and they blew them out at Wrigley Field. The Cubs came home following a disappointing 2-5 road trip but were never blown out the way they were on Tuesday night. The Cubs looked lifeless in the field, on the mound and at the plate.
Carlos Zambrano was activated from the 15-day DL in time to put together his worst outing of the year. While Carlos Zambrano has been very solid for a majority of the year, he did not show up once again when his team needed him the most.
Carlos Zambrano was knocked out of the game in the fifth inning after the Nationals took a commanding 5-1 lead. For some reason Lou Piniella went to Aaron Heilman down by only four runs with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth. Heilman struck out Ronnie Belliard but served up the first grand slam of Elijah Duke’s career … 9-1 Nationals. Zambrano’s line in his first game since August 3: eight runs on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.
Big Z actually tied the game at one in the third with his fourth homer of the year … and 20th of his career.
The Cubs cut the Nationals lead to 9-4 in the sixth with a RBI single by Kosuke Fukudome and a two-run double by Geovany Soto but Sean Marshall and Angel Guzman gave the runs right back in the top of the seventh.
Milton Bradley hit his 10th homer of the year in the seventh, a solo shot that accounted for the Cubs fifth run of the game. Jeff Baker made it a 15-6 game with his third homer of the year in the ninth.
After the game Lou Piniella said, “Zambrano wasn’t very sharp tonight. Hopefully he’s better next time out.” Piniella added, “Look we scored a few runs, they just scored a lot more. We’ve had a rough August. What can I say? It’s only one game.”
The 15 runs allowed by Cubs’ pitching on Tuesday night were the most this season … at the worst possible time.
With Tuesday’s loss, the Cubs season basically came to an end. With 39 games remaining and staring up a nine-game deficit in the division, there is simply not enough time to catch the St. Louis Cardinals. Carlos Zambrano had won five in a row against the Nationals before Tuesday night. While the Cubs had a very slim chance of catching the Cardinals, a solid outing from Carlos Zambrano would have gone a long way to keeping pace with the Redbirds … but that simply did not happen on Tuesday.
Josh Willingham had a huge night after managing just one hit in his previous 19 at bats (4-for-4 with a walk, two home runs, five runs scored and six RBI) … and scored the first run of the game. The Cubs held Willingham hitless in the four-game series in D.C. and he more than made up for his earlier performance against the Cubs.
Ronnie Belliard followed the Willingham single with a single to center. Elijah Dukes grounded out to second. Mike Fontenot made a good play to erase Belliard at second. Wil Nieves followed with a sac fly to center … Willingham scored 1-0 Nationals.
The Cubs offense could not get on track against Garrett Mock. The game plan was apparently to jump on his first pitch and their aggressiveness led to quick, unproductive innings. The only offense the Cubs received while the game was still in question was a solo home run by Carlos Zambrano in the third that tied the game.
Zambrano struck out Adam Dunn to start the fourth but Josh Willingham followed with his 20th of the year … a solo shot onto Waveland, 2-1 Nationals.
Ronnie Belliard reached on a swinging bunt up the third baseline and scored on a double to left. Dukes advanced to third when Mike Fontenot threw the ball into the dirt. Jim Riggleman then called for the suicide squeeze. Wil Nieves missed the bunt and Soto tagged out Duke. Nieves flied out to left to end the inning … 3-1, Nationals.
Zambrano lost it in the fifth. He hit Willie Harris on a 2-2 pitch. Cristian Guzman blooped a single into left center, Harris advanced to third. Ryan Zimmerman then broke his bat and blooped a single into left … Harris scored, 4-1 Nationals. Big Z walked Adam Dunn to load the bases.
Zambrano then walked Willingham with the bases loaded, forced in Guzman and ended his night.
Aaron Heilman replaced Zambrano, struck out Ronnie Belliard then ended the game. Elijah Dukes ripped Heilman’s first pitch into the bleachers in left center … 9-1, Nationals.
Milton Bradley (4-for-4 with a home run, a walk and two runs scored) led off the sixth with a walk. Derrek Lee struck out. Aramis Ramirez ripped the first pitch from Garrett Mock off the wall in left, Ramirez ended up with a long single … the ball just missed landing in the basket. Kosuke Fukudome singled off of Ronnie Belliard’s glove, Bradley scored … 9-2, Nationals.
Geovany Soto doubled to left on Mock’s first pitch, Ramirez and Kosuke scored … 9-4, Nationals. Jim Riggleman brought in Tyler Clippard to face Mike Fontenot. After the Cubs appeared to get a little of the momentum back, Mike Fontenot popped up the first pitch from Clippard into shallow left to end the inning … Mike Fontenot’s lack of patience this season has cost the Cubs all year long.
Sean Marshall took the hill for his second inning of work in the seventh. Ryan Zimmerman led off the seventh with a double to left. Willingham drove in Zimmerman with a one-out single to center … 10-4 Nationals. Ronnie Belliard followed with a single to left. Jake Fox bobbled the ball and both runners advanced 90′. Elijah Dukes was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Piniella brought in Angel Guzman to face Wil Nieves and the Nationals’ catcher singled to right, two runs scored … 12-4 Nationals.
Tom Gorzelanny took the mound in the eighth and gave up the final three runs of the night. Ryan Zimmerman worked a two-out walk. Adam Dunn singled and Josh Willingham launched a three-run homer into the bleachers in left … 15-5 Nationals.
Just another bad night and poor performance for the 2009 Chicago Cubs …
Rich Harden will face Livan Hernandezn on Wednesday night.