Game Eleven – Cubs 3 Astros 4
WP – Roy Oswalt (1-2) LP – Tom Gorzelanny (0-1) Save – Matt Lindstrom (1)
The Cubs did nothing for seven innings against Roy Oswalt on Saturday afternoon. It was vintage Roy O. He worked fast and struck out six with no walks. The Cubs managed only five hits off of Oswalt … four singles and a double by Geovany Soto.
Lou Piniella’s crew made a game of it in the eighth. Kosuke Fukudome reached on a one out single off of Brandon Lyon. Derrek Lee doubled and both Fukudome and Lee scored on a double by Aramis Ramirez. Alfonso Soriano made it a 4-3 game with a two-out double to left. But Mike Fontenot grounded out to second to end the inning.
A two-out error by Tommy Manzella and a wild pitch from Matt Lindstrom put Ryan Theriot on second with two outs in the ninth. Kosuke Fukudome struck out swinging on a 1-2 pitch to end the game.
Tom Gorzelanny left the game in the bottom of the third with a left shoulder contusion. Pedro Feliz hit a vicious liner back up the middle with one out in the third that hit Gorzelanny in the left shoulder. Gorzelanny finished the inning but was lifted for Chad Tracy in the bottom of the third.
Both runs allowed by Gorzelanny scored in the second inning … one with help from the Cubs’ defense. A tailor-made 5-4-3 double play was not turned and a bloop single in front of Alfonso Soriano led to the Astros’ second run of the inning.
J.R. Towles, who came into Saturday’s game with only one hit in 18 at bats, went 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored.
After an impressive fourth inning, Jeff Gray served up the homer to J.R. Towles to start the fifth and the Astros tacked on their fourth run in the seventh off of Justin Berg … and two more bloop hits to the outfield.
James Russell and Sean Marshall retired all six batters they faced on Saturday … and Marshall struck out the side swinging in the ninth.
The Astros won for only the second time in 2010 and Matt Lindstrom picked up his first save in a Houston uniform. With the loss, the Cubs slipped below .500 once again with a 5-6 record on the young season … The Cubs defense, or lack thereof, played a role in Saturday’s loss. No matter how bad the opposition may or may not be, when a team is given extra outs they will capitalize. Alfonso Soriano committed his third error on Saturday (the other left fielders in the NL have made a total of three errors this season) and allowed two more balls to fall in front of him that led to runs.
Alfonso Soriano is an easy target right now but he is not the only Cub playing below average defense. Aramis Ramirez and Mike Fontenot could not turn a 5-4-3 double play in the second that allowed Chris Johnson to reach. Johnson ended up scoring the Astros’ second run of the game.
Tom Gorzelanny retired the Astros in order to start the game but Carlos Lee led off the second with a single to right center on a 2-0 pitch. Hunter Pence followed with a single to right and Lee lumbered to third on the play.
Chris Johnson hit a grounder to Aramis Ramirez on the first pitch from Gorzelanny. Ramirez had trouble getting the ball out of his glove and so did Mike Fontenot. Pence was forced at second as Lee scored … 1-0 Astros.
Tommy Manzella hit a soft grounder to third. Ramirez threw out the Astros’ shortstop at first but Johnson advanced to second and scored on a bloop single to left that fell in front of Alfonso Soriano. J.R. Towles’ second hit of the season gave the Astros a 2-0 lead.
After retiring the Astros in order with three groundball outs in the fourth, Jeff Gray served one up to J.R. Towles to start the fifth. The ball hit the left field foul pole … the Astros third home run of the year.
Alfonso Soriano committed his third error of the year in the fifth. Soriano made a running catch in the first but dropped a liner off the bat of Jason Michaels that hit Soriano in the glove. The error did not cost the Cubs another run.
Justin Berg, like Jeff Gray, retired the Astros in order in his first inning of work. J.R. Towles reached on a bloop single to left with one out in the seventh. Roy Oswalt sacrificed him to second and Jeff Keppinger drove in Towles with a bloop single to center … 4-0 Astros after seven innings.
After James Russell sat down Houston in order in the top of the eighth, the Cubs offense finally got on the board in the bottom half against Brandon Lyon.
Kosuke Fukudome singled to left center on the first pitch of the at bat. Derrek Lee doubled to left center on a 1-2 pitch and both scored on a double to left by Aramis Ramirez … 4-2 Astros.
Marlon Byrd struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch but Alfonso Soriano doubled to left, plated Ramirez and chased Lyon from the game. Chris Sampson came in and retired Mike Fontenot to end the inning. Fontenot put together a good at bat and ran the count to 3-2 but Sampson’s success against lefties coupled with Fontenot’s career numbers against Sampson should have led to a pinch-hit appearance for Jeff Baker.
Matt Lindstrom retired Geovany Soto and Xavier Nady to start the ninth. Ryan Theriot reached on an error by Tommy Manzella and advanced to second on a wild pitch. But Lindstrom struck out Kosuke Fukudome swinging to end the game.
Ryan Dempster will try to end the Cubs’ first homestand of the season on a positive note Sunday afternoon. Houston will send Wandy Rodriguez to the hill for the thid time this year.