Game One Hundred Twenty-Five – Cubs 4 Nationals 5
WP – J.D. Martin (3-3) LP – Randy Wells (9-7) Save – Mike MacDougal (14)
The daily drama of the Chicago Cubs continued to make headlines on Thursday while the play on the field continued plummeting with each passing day. Before the series began with the Nationals everyone in the Cubs organization talked about the importance of this 10-game homestand … then they promptly lose two of three to the Nationals as they try to figure out whom to blame for the season, instead of how to win ballgames.
The game did not get off to a positive start and before the Cubs ever swung a bat they found themselves in a 3-0 hole. Randy Wells issued a lead off walk to Nyjer Morgan, then a run scoring double to Cristian Guzman before serving up a two-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman. The Nationals built a 5-0 lead with the last run scoring on Adam Dunn’s 40th career home run off of Chicago Cubs’ pitching.
Randy Wells settled down but the Cubs’ offense could not do enough against the Nationals’ pitching staff. Aramis Ramirez cut the Nationals’ lead to 5-2 with his 11th homer of the year, a two-run shot in the third off of J.D. Martin. Derrek Lee hit his 25th longball of the year in the fifth that accounted for the Cubs third run of the game, but it was a play at the plate in the seventh involving Lee that kept the Cubs from tying the game.
Jeff Baker led off the seventh with a walk. Derrek Lee advanced him to second with a two out single and Aramis Ramirez followed with a single to center that plated Baker with the Cubs’ fourth run.
Jim Riggleman went to his pen and replaced J.D. Martin with southpaw Sean Burnett. Burnett uncorked a wild pitch on 2-2 pitch to Kosuke Fukudome. Lee tried to score but was tagged out by Burnett to end the inning … replays showed Burnett tagged Lee with his glove while holding the ball in his hand.
Sam Fuld worked a lead off walk in the ninth on the seventh pitch of the at bat. After Jeff Baker failed to advance him to second with a sacrifice bunt, Fuld advanced on a wild pitch with Ryan Theriot at the plate. Theriot grounded out to third for the second out.
With a chance to tie the game and send it into extra innings, Milton Bradley grounded out to second on the third pitch of the at bat (2-0 count) to end the game. A day after telling the media, “All I’m saying is I just pray the game is nine innings, so I can be out there the least amount of time as possible and go home,” Bradley was the 27th out of the game.
Lou Piniella’s crew lost two of three to the Washington Nationals and showed no fire or urgency during the series … The Cubs’ offense continued to struggle at the plate and with runners in scoring position. Thursday afternoon’s game was a microcosm of the entire season. No clutch hitting while showing up expecting to win but not playing the game and ensuring success. The Cubs left seven on base and finished 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Randy Wells struggled against the Nationals for the second time … and his innings might be catching up to him. Wells labored through a long first inning and did not retire the Nationals in order until the fifth inning. Wells found a groove and sat down the Nationals 1-2-3 in a quick sixth inning before leaving in the seventh with one out.
Wells allowed five run on five hits with four strikeouts and tied a season-high with four walks in 6 1/3 innings.
The Nationals tacked onto their lead in the second. Josh Bard led off with a single to right. J.D. Martin attempted to sacrifice him to second but Bard was forced at second instead. Willie Harris, who came in the game for Nyjer Morgan in the first inning after he left with a jammed left hand, singled to right. Martin advanced to third and scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Cristian Guzman … 4-0, Nationals.
The Cubs had a chance in the first inning to answer the Nationals three-run top of the inning. Ryan Theriot was hit by a pitch on a 0-2 pitch. Milton Bradley, for some unknown reason, attempted to bunt down by three runs in the first inning. Bradley popped up the bunt attempt and Josh Bard caught it in foul ground.
After Bradley attempted the bunt, Ron Santo said, “What is he doing? He’s doing that on his own. I’m sure he did not get the bunt sign in the first inning.”
Derrek Lee was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out. Aramis Ramirez blooped a single into right and loaded the bases with one out. Kosuke Fukudome lined out to left, Theriot held at third and Alfonso Soriano flied out to right to end the inning.
On a day Lou Piniella said to put the blame on him if you want and Milton Bradley continued to run his mouth, the Cubs lost their 62nd game of the year.
The Cubs finished the season series with the Nationals with a 5-2 record … after winning the first four.
Ted Lilly will face southpaw Pat Misch in the first of three against the Mets on Friday afternoon … weather permitting.