The Cubs Let the Reds Off the Hook – Cubs 1 Reds 3

Game Six – Cubs 1 Reds 3
WP – Nick Masset (1-0) LP – John Grabow (0-2) Save – Francisco Cordero (2)

The Cubs had every opportunity to put the game away against Mike Leake. While the bullpen will receive a majority of the blame for their inability to throw strikes, the bottom line is a Major League offense should score more than one run in nine innings … especially when the opposition issues eight walks.

After leaving 13 on base in Friday night’s loss, Lou Piniella’s crew left 12 on base in Sunday’s defeat. The Cubs managed only five hits, three from Kosuke Fukudome. Aramis Ramirez finished the series 0-for-12.

Bullpen issues aside, a team must score more runs and quit wasting quality starts from their rotation.

Tom Gorzelanny turned in the Cubs’ fifth quality start in a row and put together a tremendous outing. The only run he was credited with was unearned and came after an error by Alfonso Soriano that gave the Reds a fourth out. Gorzelanny left with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh.

Gorzelanny’s line in 6 1/3 innings: one run, unearned, on four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.

While the offense should have put the game away long before the eighth, the bullpen could not throw strikes again in the eighth inning. John Grabow was horrible and picked up his second loss of the season. Grabow simply cannot throw enough strikes to make him an effective reliever and his role in the pen should be changed.

Orlando Cabrera reached on an infield single to start the inning … and ended up scoring the winning run. Grabow struck out Joey Votto but fell behind Brandon Phillips 2-0. Phillips worked the count to 3-2 then lined a single to left. Cabrera was running on the play and advanced to third. Grabow walked Scott Rolen to load the bases.

Esmailin Caridad could not find the strike zone and walked Ramon Hernandez to force in the go ahead run. Jonny Gomes drove in an insurance run with a sacrifice fly to right on a 2-0 pitch.

Derrek Lee plated the only Cubs’ run of the day with a single to center in the fifth. The Cubs’ first run batted in on a hit that was not a home run in the first six games.

With the loss, the Cubs finished the first week of the season with a 2-4 record …

The tone for the afternoon was set in the first inning when the Cubs failed to score after loading the bases with no outs against rookie Mike Leake.

Ryan Theriot walked on five pitches to start the game. Kosuke Fukudome followed with a double to right center. Mike Leake then walked Derrek Lee on four pitches … the Cubs looked like they were in business.

But Aramis Ramirez popped out on the second pitch of the at bat. Marlon Byrd struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch … and Alfonso Soriano popped out to right on Leake’s first pitch.

As Pat Hughes put it, “The Cubs let the kid get off the hook.

Mike Leake retired the Cubs in order in the second on just seven pitches.

The offense got in going again in the third, just to come up short. Ryan Theriot, who led off four different innings, started the inning with a single to right. Kosuke Fukudome singled to left. But Derrek Lee struck out swinging, Aramis Ramirez struck out looking and Marlon Byrd grounded out to third.

The Cubs left five on base in the first three innings.

The Cubs finally got on the board in the fifth. Ryan Theriot walked (the only free pass for the Cubs that came around to score) and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kosuke Fukudome … who was bunting for a hit.

Derrek Lee stepped in and singled to center, Theriot scored. 1-0 Cubs.

Tom Gorzelanny looked like he would make the one-run hold up but that all changed in the seventh after Alfonso Soriano made his second blunder of the game.

Scott Rolen reached on a one-out single to left center. Ramon Hernandez walked to put the tying run on second. Lou Piniella made the slow walk but decided to leave Gorzelanny in the game.

Jonny Gomes appeared to fly out to left but Alfonso Soriano dropped the ball. The Reds loaded the bases and ended Gorzelanny’s day.

Sean Marshall came in and Dusty Baker countered with Miguel Cairo for Chris Dickerson. Cario hit a ball back to Marshall that he could not handle. Everyone was safe and the Reds tied the game at one.

Marshall struck out Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs to end the inning.

After the Cubs failed to score in the top of the eighth, the Reds took the lead for good in the home half of the inning.

Orlando Cabrera reached on an infield single to the hole at second. John Grabow struck out Joey Votto but could not throw strikes to Brandon Phillips. Grabow fell behind 2-0 before evening the count at two. Phillips looked at ball three then singled to left with Cabrera running. Cabrera advanced to third on the play.

John Grabow walked Scott Rolen to load the bases.

Lou Piniella went to his pen for Esmailin Caridad. Caridad quickly fell behind Ramon Hernandez before walking him on a 3-2 pitch. Cabrera scored on the free pass, 2-1 Reds. Jonny Gomes then flied out to right on a 2-0 pitch. The sac fly added the Cubs 3-1 lead.

James Russell replaced Caridad and retired Laynce Nix to end the inning.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Ryan Dempster will face Doug Davis and the Brewers in the home opener on Monday afternoon.

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon