Game Sixteen – Cubs 2 Mets 5
WP – Johan Santana (2-1) LP – Tom Gorzelanny (0-2) Save – Francisco Rodriguez (1)
Once again the Cubs had plenty of chances to score runs and win a ballgame. Lou Piniella’s crew wasted another solid start, the defense committed a huge error and the offense managed only two runs. The Cubs pounded out 10 hits, walked twice, put the leadoff hitter on base in five different innings but were a miserable 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 10 on base … all reoccurring themes for the Chicago Cubs over the first 16 games of the season.
Tom Gorzelanny put together a good start against the New York Mets. Gorzelanny retired the first 10 batters he faced and did not give up his first hit until one-out in the fifth … a single to right by Ike Davis. Gorzelanny struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings but it was his second walk of the night that opened the door for the Mets.
Jose Reyes started the Mets’ four-run sixth inning with a walk. Luis Castillo sacrificed him to second. David Wright lined a 3-2 pitch over Alfonso Soriano’s head in left that plated Reyes with the game’s first run. Jeff Francoeur drove in Wright with a two-out single to right.
With the Mets up 2-0 and Johan Santana on the mound, Gorzelanny gave up another two-out hit, a single to Ike Davis that ended his night. James Russell walked Rod Barajas to load the bases.
Angel Pagan hit a chopper that Mike Fontenot bobbled. Two runs scored on the error and gave the Mets a commanding four run lead.
The Cubs started chipping away and scored single runs in the seventh and eighth against the Mets’ pen before Francisco Rodriguez came in with one-out in the eighth and shut the door.
Kosuke Fukudome pinch-hit for Russell in the seventh and broke up the shutout with a single to right. The Cubs loaded the bases in the eighth. Jerry Manuel called on Rodriguez to notch his first five-out save since July 2, 2005.
Mike Fontenot cut the Mets lead to 4-2 with a sacrifice fly to left off of Rodriguez but Tyler Colvin was caught looking on what should have been called a ball to end the inning. The Cubs went down 1-2-3 in the ninth … only the second inning the Cubs were retired in order.
Thursday’s loss dropped the Cubs record to 6-10 … The Cubs had little to no room for error against Johan Santana and they simply could not cash in multiple opportunities against one of the best pitchers in the game. Tom Gorzelanny out pitched Santana early but all that matters is the final result … and the Cubs left another win on base.
The Cubs put runners in scoring position in the second, third and fourth innings against Johan Santana and came away empty.
Marlon Byrd led off the second with a hustle double to left. Xavier Nady grounded out to third and could not advance Byrd. Alfonso Soriano grounded out to first, Byrd advanced to third but Geovany Soto popped out to center.
Mike Fontenot led off the third with a double to left center. But Johan Santana jammed Tom Gorzelanny on a bunt attempt. Gorzelanny got the bunt down but Fontenot did not attempt to run to third. Ryan Theriot flied out to right. Fontenot tagged and went to third but Jeff Baker flied out to center to end the inning.
Marlon Byrd and Xavier Nady reached on back-to-back one-out singles in the fourth. Byrd advanced to third but was caught in a rundown on a ball hit down the third baseline by Alfonso Soriano. The play went 5-2-5-1 for the out and Nady advanced to third. But Geovany Soto flied out to center to end the inning … the Cubs came away empty.
Geovany Soto started the seventh with a bloop single to right center. Angel Pagan and Jeff Francoeur misplayed the ball and the error allowed Soto to advance to second. Mike Fontenot’s productive out, a grounder to second, advanced Soto to third. Kosuke Fukudome ripped a long single down the right field line … 4-1 Mets.
Fernando Nieve replaced Santana and gave up a single to Ryan Theriot. With runners on first and second with one out, Lou Piniella went to his bench for Chad Tracy. Jerry Manuel counted with a southpaw, Pedro Feliciano, and Piniella went back to his bench for Aramis Ramirez.
Ramirez grounded out to short. Fukudome was forced at third and Derrek Lee flied out to right center on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.
Marlon Byrd started the eighth with a single to right. Xavier Nady flied out but Alfonso Soriano put together another impressive at bat and earned the Cubs’ first walk of the night.
Jenrry Mejia replaced Feliciano and walked Soto to load the bases.
Jerry Manuel wasted no time and brought in his closer. Mike Fontenot ran the count to 3-2 before flying out to left. Byrd tagged and scored … 4-2 Mets. Tyler Colvin was called out on ball two to end the inning.
The Mets fifth and final run scored after two outs in the eighth. Justin Berg gave up a two-out double to Ike Davis, the first extra base hit of his career. Rod Barajas singled to right. For some reason, Xavier Nady was still in the game and had no shot whatsoever of trying to throw home. Davis scored easily and Lee tagged out Barajas to end the inning.
Nady should have been lifted for Tyler Colvin, who pinch-hit in the eighth.
The Cubs have lost four of their first five series of the season.
The Cubs open a three-game series on Friday night at Miller Park … Ryan Dempster versus Jeff Suppan.