The Cubs Blow It in Grand Fashion – Cubs 4 Reds 5

Game Four – Cubs 4 Reds 5
WP – Micah Owings (1-0) LP – Esmailin Caridad (0-1, BS 1) Save – Francisco Cordero (1)

For the second time in four games, the Cubs inexperienced bullpen could not get out of the eighth inning with the lead. The Cubs took a 3-1 advantage into the eighth after an excellent start by Carlos Silva. Silva allowed only one run on three hits on 71 pitches in six innings. Silva worked fast and the Cubs defense turned in their best effort of the young season. Lou Piniella said after the game that Silva’s shoulder stiffened and that was the reason for the early exit.

The offense had plenty of chances to put the game away early but squandered several opportunities against Homer Bailey. The Cubs pounded out 11 hits and managed only four runs. They finished the night 4-for-11 with RISP and left 13 on base.

Esmailin Caridad took the hill in the eighth and started Jonny Gomes off with two strikes. After jumping ahead in the count 0-2, Caridad could not find the strike zone. Caridad threw four straight balls to Gomes and issued the leadoff walk in a two-run game. Caridad tossed seven straight before throwing a strike to Ramon Hernandez. Caridad ended up walking Hernandez after five pitches … and put the tying run on base.

Dusty Baker went to his bench for Chris Dickerson. The Reds’ speedy outfielder dropped a beautiful bunt down the third base line. The Cubs defense, which had been very good all night, could not make a play when they needed one the most. Dickerson beat out the throw from Aramis Ramirez to load the bases.

Drew Stubbs, who tripled in the first and scored the Reds only run to that point, launched a 1-0 pitch from Caridad over the wall in center. Grand slam … 5-3 Reds.

The Cubs made it interesting in the ninth but could not pull it out. Tyler Colvin was called out on a bang-bang play at first base to start the inning. Colvin hit a grounder off of Francisco Cordero’s glove that was barehanded by Brandon Phillips and tossed to Joey Votto to get the out … Piniella argued to no avail.

Derrek Lee stepped in and made it a one-run game. Lee hit his first career homer off of Cordero into the upper deck in left field. After Aramis Ramirez just missed a game tying home run to right, Kosuke Fukudome pinch hit for Caridad and reached on a single to right center.

Alfonso Soriano and Mike Fontenot reached on back-to-back errors by Scott Rolen and Paul Yanish to load the bases.

Chad Tracy tapped back to Cordero on a check swing to end the game.

Lou Piniella’s crew slipped to 1-3 on the young season after leading in all four of the games … Carlos Silva’s excellent outing will be lost due to another blown game by the pen and more struggles from the Cubs offense. Silva was impressive from the first inning on. The one run he was credited with came off a misplayed ball in right by Xavier Nady.

After the Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, Drew Stubbs led off the home half with a triple to right. Xavier Nady turned the wrong way, the ball hit off the wall then was bobbled by Tyler Colvin … who was backing up the play. Stubbs ended up at third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Orlando Cabrera.

Silva and the Cubs’ defense stepped up following the first inning. While Silva was busy throwing strikes … Ryan Theriot, Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee and Tyler Colvin caught everything hit their way.

Silva’s night came to an end after 71 pitches, 48 for strikes, in six innings.

Justin Berg recorded a 1-2-3 seventh inning.

The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the first inning following Tyler Colvin’s first walk of 2010. Colvin did not take ball four all spring but finally did on Friday night. Derrek Lee followed with a single to right center and Colvin advanced to third on the play.

Aramis Ramirez plated Colvin with sacrifice fly to right.

Homer Bailey continued to struggle throwing strikes. During Xavier Nady’s at bat, Bailey threw to first, the ball went through Joey Votto’s glove and Lee took second. Nady walked but Soriano flied out to right center to end the inning.

While the Cubs took a 1-0 lead, they left two on base … a theme that would repeat through the first five innings of the game.

Mike Fontenot blooped a single into left to start the second. Koyie Hill struck out but Silva advance Fontenot to second with his first sacrifice bunt of the season. Ryan Theriot reached on an infield single, his first hit of the season. With runners on first and thirdTyler Colvin grounded out to first to end the inning.

The Cubs added to their lead in the third. Derrek Lee was hit by Homer Bailey to start the inning. Lee advanced to second on a ball in the dirt with Ramirez at the plate. Aramis struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch.

Xavier Nady ripped a 0-1 pitch over Jonny Gomes head in left. Lee scored easily but Nady was held to a long single. Alfonso Soriano struck out. Fontenot followed with his second hit of the game, a single to left. With runners on first and second with two outs, Koyie Hill struck out swinging to end the inning.

Derrek Lee drove in the Cubs third run of the game in the fourth. Ryan Theriot singled to left center with one out and advanced to second on a balk by Homer Bailey. A wild pitch allowed Theriot to take third then Lee drove him in with a single to center on a 3-2 pitch with two outs.

Micah Owings shut the Cubs down for three innings. Owings allowed only one hit, stuck out two and hit Xavier Nady for the second time.

The Reds did everything they could to give the game to the Cubs …

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Carlos Zambrano and Aaron Harang will square off for the eighth time in their career Saturday afternoon.