Pujols Breaks Out the Tape Measure – Cubs 1 Cardinals 9

Game Fifty-One – Cubs 1 Cardinals 9
WP – Adam Wainwright (7-3) LP – Ryan Dempster (3-5) Save – None

The Cubs needed Ryan Dempster to be just about perfect Sunday afternoon … and he could not keep the ball in the yard. Albert Pujols hit not one but two balls onto Waveland against Ryan Dempster … both on two-strike pitches. Pujols gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the first on his 10th dinger of the season. Pujols then put the game away in the fifth with a two-run shot on the ninth pitch of the at bat.

To complete his afternoon, Albert Pujols hit his third homer of the game in the ninth. Pujols ripped a 1-2 pitch from John Grabow and it ended up in the basket in center. Pujols entered Sunday with only two home runs in the month of May … and he hit three against the Cubs Sunday. For his career, Pujols has launched 23 home runs at Wrigley Field.

The Cardinals scored all nine runs Sunday afternoon with two outs … six off of Ryan Dempster and the other three against John Grabow. The Cardinals hit three homers onto Waveland and outplayed the Chicago Cubs once again.

What promised to be a pitcher’s duel ended up as a blowout.

Ryan Dempster pitched into the seventh and threw a season-high 125 pitches. Dempster simply could not throw an out pitch when he needed one. The Cardinals scored all six runs against Dempster with two outs.

Ryan Dempster is serving up an alarming amount of longballs, especially on two-strike pitches. After allowing only three home runs in his first five starts (35 2/3 innings), Dempster has served up seven in his last six starts (41 2/3 innings). Dempster’s line on Sunday: six runs on nine hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

After the game, Lou Piniella said his bullpen was tired and that was the reason he sent Dempster out to start the seventh.

The Cubs had two chances to make a game of it against Adam Wainwright. Aramis Ramirez was thrown out at the plate to end the second. Then in the bottom of the fourth down 1-0, the Cubs loaded the bases with one out. Starlin Castro hit the ball hard but right at Brendan Ryan. The result was a 6-4-3 inning ending double play.

The Cubs lone run, a solo homer by Geovany Soto in the seventh. Soto’s first home run since May 4 (first RBI since May 7) was the only offensive highlight for the Chicago Cubs.

With the loss, Lou Piniella’s crew finished the six-game homestand against the Dodgers and Cardinals with a 3-3 record. The Cubs will enter play on Memorial Day three games under .500 …

A 3-3 homestand against the Dodgers and Cardinals should not be considered a failure but dropping two of the three to St. Louis the way the Cubs did was embarrassing. The Cubs’ everyday lineup looked old and tired against Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. While the middle of the Tony LaRussa’s lineup was busy leading the Cardinals to victory, the heart of the Cubs lineup continued to make routine outs.

Lou Piniella has to make changes and stop penciling in the same players and expecting different results.

After Albert Pujols hit his first of three homers on the afternoon in the first, the Cubs went down in order in the home half. Adam Wainwright sat down the Cubs on just 12 pitches.

Aramis Ramirez led off the second with a single and advanced to second on a ground out by Marlon Byrd. Wainwright issued a four-pitch walk to Alfonso Soriano. Geovany Soto struck out swinging for the second out of the inning.

Starlin Castro stepped in and singled to center on a 1-2 pitch. In his first career big league start, Jon Jay charged the ball and came up throwing. Ramirez lumbered around third and attempted to score. Jay made a strong throw but it was up the third base line. Yadier Molina boxed out Ramirez and tagged him as he tried to slide around him. Inning over …

When facing a pitcher like Adam Wainwright opportunities are usually few and far between. The Cubs had two Sunday and could not cash them in.

Marlon Byrd reached on a infield single to the hole at short with one out in the fourth. Alfonso Soriano then ripped a double off the wall in left. Byrd held at third with one out. Geovany Soto walked to load the bases.

Starlin Castro hit Wainwright’s first offering right to Brendan Ryan … 6-4-3, inning over.

In what has become the norm with the Cubs after failing to score with the bases loaded, the other team puts the game away in the next half inning … and it was more of the same Sunday.

Ryan Dempster walked Brendan Ryan to start the fifth. On a 2-0 pitch to Wainwright, Ryan took off for second and advanced to third when Starlin Castro could not catch Soto’s throw. Wainwright grounded out to short with the infield in and Skip Schumaker flied out to left on the first pitch. It looked like Dempster might get out of the jam.

Ryan Ludwick then singled to center on a 1-1 pitch and plated Ryan with the Cardinals’ second run.

Albert Pujols stepped in and launched the ninth pitch of the at bat down the line in left. The ball ended up on Waveland, again, and the Cardinals took a commanding 4-0 lead.

Dempster retired the Cardinals in order in the sixth but Lou sent him out for the seventh.

Ryan Ludwick doubled to left center with two outs. Dempster intentionally walked Pujols but gave up a single to right to Matt Holliday on a 0-1 pitch. Ludwick scored … 5-0 Cardinals.

Bobby Howry replaced Dempster and gave up a single to center to David Freese on a 0-2 pitch. Pujols scored … 6-0 Cardinals. Jon Jay popped out to short to end the inning.

John Grabow threw a perfect eighth but returned to form in the ninth. Grabow gave up two more home runs, a solo shot by Albert Pujols and a two-run homer by David Freese. All three runs scored with two outs and completed the embarrassing performance.

John Grabow must be placed on the DL when Andrew Cashner is called up this week. Sending James Russell down will send the wrong message to the young lefty. Grabow’s ERA soared to 9.45 on the year … and he’s not getting better. Grabow is 0-1 in his last 11 games with an 11.91 ERA and a 2.38 WHIP.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs begin a nine-game, three-city road trip Monday. Randy Wells will face Ross Ohlendorf in the first of three against the Pirates.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax