Twenty Games Under – Cubs 3 Cardinals 6

Game One Hundred Sixteen – Cubs 3 Cardinals 6
WP – Jake Westbrook (1-0, 7-7) LP – Thomas Diamond (0-3) Save – Ryan Franklin (21)

The Chicago Cubs went through the motions again Friday night and lost for the 14th time in 16 games. Lou Piniella and Derrek Lee returned to the team after missing the four games in San Francisco … and Lee had a good night at the plate.

Derrek Lee doubled and scored one of the Cubs two runs in the first inning. Lee then ripped his 13th homer of the season in the eighth. But the Cubs offense managed just three hits after the first inning.

Thomas Diamond struggled again Friday night. Diamond last just four innings and in his three big league starts he is averaging just over 20 pitches per inning. Diamond gave up four runs on six hits with four walks and two strikeouts. Diamond also joined the long list of pitchers that has served up a homer to Albert Pujols.

It was evident Friday night just how far the Cubs have fallen. The Cardinals did not bring their A-game, yet outplayed the Lou’s crew in every facet of the game.

Casey Coleman was one of the few bright spots Friday night. Coleman put together the best outing of his young career. After a rocky start to the fifth, Coleman settled down and retired the last six batters he faced. Coleman allowed just a single walk and struck out three in two innings.

Justin Berg gave up two more runs in the seventh that allowed the Cardinals to put the game away. Berg struggled throwing strikes and when he did, the Redbirds squared off on him. Berg surrendered two runs, one earned, on two hits with a walk and a strikeout in two innings of work.

Cubs pitching simply cannot throw enough quality strikes and when they do, the defense cannot catch the ball.

Blake DeWitt filled in at third due to injuries to Aramis Ramirez and Jeff Baker and committed two mistakes … a throwing error in the fifth and he bobbled a ball in the eighth. The Cubs have committed eight errors in their last five games.

Darwin Barney got his first big league start Friday night. Barney was solid in the field but was 0-for-4 at the plate.

Jake Westbrook picked up his first win in a Cardinals’ uniform, despite the fact the Cubs scored two runs in the first inning. Westbrook walked, doubled and scored a run in his first two trips to the plate and finished the game 1-for-2 with a walk, a double and a run scored.

With Friday’s loss, the Cubs dropped their fourth game of the road trip (1-4) and slipped to a season-low 20 games under .500 (48-68) …

While Albert Pujols was busy leading his team to victory Friday night (3-for-5 with a home run and three runs scored), the Cubs high-priced veteran, Alfonso Soriano, finished the game 1-for-4 with a strikeout and left two on base.

The Cubs offense finished the game with just seven hits, and three after the first inning … just 1-for-3 with RISP and left five on base.

The Cubs jumped out to a short-lived 2-0 lead in the first inning. Starlin Castro worked the count to 3-2 before reaching on a single to center. Derrek Lee followed with a double to the corner in right. Marlon Byrd then delivered a two-run single to left. Castro and Lee scored … 2-0 Cubs.

Derrek Lee winced as he rounded third and scored. Lee appeared in pain as he made his way to the plate but remained in the game.

Blake DeWitt notched the Cubs fourth hit in a row … a double to right. Byrd motored to third but Alfonso Soriano once again failed to get the ball out of the infield. Soriano grounded out to third on a 2-0 pitch.

Darwin Barney stepped in for his first big league at bat and battled Jake Westbrook … but he flied out to left on the seventh pitch of the at bat.

Albert Pujols cut the Cubs lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the first. And the writing was on the wall once again that the Cubs would come out on the short end when it was all said and done.

Thomas Diamond labored through the second but worked around a pair of walks and a single without allowing any runs.

The Cardinals finally took the lead in the third. Thomas Diamond walked the leadoff hitter for the second inning in a row. Felipe Lopez took the free pass and advanced to second on a one-out single to center off the bat of Albert Pujols.

Matt Holliday doubled to left center and if not for Marlon Byrd, Holliday’s knock would have scored more than just a single run. Lopez scored and tied the game at two.

Piniella had Diamond intentionally walk Colby Rasmus to load the bases.

After his second loud ovation (first one was of the standing variety), Yadier Molina just missed a grand slam and settled for a sac fly to left. Pujols tagged and scored the go ahead run … 3-2 Cardinals.

Skip Schumaker grounded out to third on Diamond’s 34th pitch of the inning. After three complete, Diamond had already tossed 66 pitches, 35 for strikes.

Jake Westbrook led off the bottom of the fourth with his third big league hit … a ground rule double down the right field corner. Brendan Ryan sacrificed Westbrook to third.

Felipe Lopez grounded out to short but Jon Jay came through with a two-out single to center. Westbrook scored … 4-2 Cardinals.

A wild pitch advanced Jay to second but Pujols grounded out to short to end the inning … and Thomas Diamond’s outing.

While the Cubs offense was busy tapping back to the mound, Casey Coleman put together two shutout innings in relief of Diamond.

Coleman worked around a throwing error by Blake DeWitt to start the fifth. Colby Rasmus walked and the Cardinals put runners on first and second with no outs. Coleman struck out Yadier Molina, retired Skip Schumaker on a fly out to left center and Westbrook struck out to end the inning.

Justin Berg replaced Coleman in the seventh … and the Cardinals took batting practice.

Albert Pujols reached on a single to right to start the inning. Matt Holliday then doubled down the left field line … his second two-bagger of the game. Colby Rasmus stepped in and worked his fourth walk of the game. Berg uncorked a wild pitch on ball four that allowed Pujols to score the Cardinals’ fifth run … it was ruled a passed ball.

With runners on first and third with no outs, Yadier Molina then hit a sac fly (his second of the night) into right center. Holliday scored … 6-2 Cardinals.

Skip Schumaker hit in a 4-6 fielder’s choice and Randy Winn flied out to center to end the inning.

Derrek Lee hit his 13th longball of the year in the top of the eighth off of Fernando Salas … just the Cubs’ second hit, and first to leave the infield, since the first inning.

The Cardinals bullpen retired the last five Cubs to end the game.

Twenty games under with a very difficult schedule ahead of them, could a team with a $140 million payroll actually lose 100 games?

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Carlos Zambrano against Chris Carpenter on Saturday afternoon.

Quote of the Day

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