Nothing Clutch About These Cubs – Cubs 3 Astros 4

Game Ninety-Six – Cubs 3 Astros 4 – 12 innings
WP – Brandon Lyon (6-4) LP – Bobby Howry (1-3) Save – Gustavo Chacin (1)

What a difference 15 hours can make. A day after one of the more memorable comebacks during the Lou Piniella Era, the Cubs fell crashing back to earth Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley.

In a game that took nearly four hours to complete, the Cubs pathetic offense left another win on base. Lou’s crew pounded out 12 hits and managed just three runs in route to their 21st one-run loss of the season (12-21). The Cubs put together another Pirate-ugly performance against the Astros and feel to 3-6 on the season versus Houston … just 2-4 at Wrigley.

When the season is over, Jim Hendry will only have to look at his team’s performance against the Central Division … and especially the head-to-head match ups with the Astros and Pirates.

After their latest frustrating loss, the Cubs are 16-27 within the division and a combined 6-15 versus the Astros and Pirates.

Ted Lilly did all he could in what was likely his final start in a Cubs’ uniform at Wrigley Field. Not only did Lilly toss seven innings of shutout ball but he recorded his first hit of the year and scored on a double by Starlin Castro in the fifth.

Lilly took the 1-0 lead into the eighth but was left in one batter too long and served up a leadoff, pinch-hit homer to Pedro Feliz. Lilly turned it over to the pen after allowing one run on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings with a walk and seven strikeouts.

Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Andrew Cashner and Justin Berg kept the Astros off the board … but the offense could not take advantage of countless opportunities.

The Cubs put a runner on second with no outs in the ninth and tenth innings and advanced the would-be winning run to third with one out in each of those innings … and came away with nothing.

The Cubs stranded seven runners on base in the ninth, tenth and eleventh. Seven.

The Astros finally got to the Cubs pen in the 12th. Bobby Howry gave up back-to-back singles to Jeff Keppinger and Chris Johnson to start the inning but left the game tied after a failed sac bunt attempt by Jason Castro.

James Russell did his job and retired Michael Bourn, but Jeff Stevens gave up a two-out double to pinch-hitter Jason Michaels and a bloop single to Angel Sanchez that gave the Astros a 4-1 lead.

Geovany Soto hit his 13th longball of the year, a two-run shot in the 12th but Tyler Colvin flied out to right to end the game … with the tying run on second and the go-ahead run on first.

Lou’s crew was 2-for-14 with RISP Wednesday afternoon and left 16 on base. Sixteen.

It’s a Way of Life!

With the loss, the Cubs dropped back to 10 games under .500 with a 43-53 mark on the season …

Wednesday’s loss was a group effort. Seemingly every player in the lineup had a chance to win the game in the later innings and came up short.

With the game tied at one, Kosuke Fukudome led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to left and advanced to second on a wild pitch. But Koyie Hill could not advance him to third and struck out swinging after failing to get the bunt down.

Ryan Theriot singled to left. Mike Quade held Kosuke at third with one out. Alfonso Soriano pinch hit for Marmol and struck out … and Tyler Colvin struck out to end the inning.

Starlin Castro led off the 10th with a double and took third on a fly out to center by Derrek Lee. Aramis Ramirez was intentionally walked and Lyon pitched around Marlon Byrd to load the bases with one out.

Kosuke Fukudome struck out swinging and Geovany Soto hit for Hill and popped out to left.

Ryan Theriot reached on a bunt single to start the 11th. Mike Fontenot hit for Justin Berg and sacrificed Theriot to second. Where was Ryan Dempster or Randy Wells? Why blow a pinch-hitter just to have him sacrifice?

Tyler Colvin was intentionally walked with one out. Starlin Castro flied out to center and Derrek Lee flied out to right to end the inning.

The Astros won the game in the top of the 12th. Bobby Howry gave up back-to-back singles to Jeff Keppinger and Chris Johnson but Jason Castro bunted back to Howry and he threw out Keppinger at third.

James Russell replaced Howry and he retired Michael Bourn on a ground out to second. Johnson and Castro advanced to second and third with two outs. Jason Michaels was announced as the pinch-hitter and Piniella went back to his pen for Jeff Stevens.

Stevens gave up a double to Michaels and a bloop single to Angel Sanchez that plated Michaels with their fourth run of the game … and the tack on run ended up being the difference in the game.

Kosuke Fukudome worked a two-out walk in the bottom of the 12th. Geovany Soto cut the Astros lead to 4-3 with a homer to left. Ryan Theriot singled and Jeff Baker walked but Tyler Colvin flied out to right to end the game.

Maybe fundamentals will be taught by the next coaching staff.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs have a scheduled off day Thursday and open a three-game series versus the Cardinals on Friday afternoon … Randy Wells versus Jeff Suppan.

Quote of the Day

"Baseball, just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes." - Ernie Harwell
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