Game Nine – Cubs 5 Brewers 6
WP – Kameron Loe (1-0) LP – Kerry Wood (0-1, BS 1) Save – John Axford (3)
Sunday was a tough loss for the Chicago Cubs. Q’s squad had a lead three different times and chased Yovani Gallardo after 106 pitches in five innings of work. But the offense could not capitalize on countless opportunities against the Brewers pitching staff … and it cost them at the end. A team that talks about contending in the division cannot give away games like they did on Sunday.
The Cubs offense finished a pathetic 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base. The Cubs lost for the second time in three games (1-2) in one run contests.
Casey McGehee came off the bench in the eighth and showed the Cubs’ brass once again they should have given him a chance. McGehee lined a 1-0 pitch off Kerry Wood over the wall in right center and gave the Brewers a 6-5 win.
The difference Sunday came down to the big hitters in the lineups. Ryan Braun (1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) and Prince Fielder (3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) both hit two run home runs and Casey McGehee hit his first dinger of the year … all six of the Brewers’ runs scored on three home runs.
The middle of the Cubs’ lineup could only manage doubles and in Carlos Pena’s case, walks. Aramis Ramirez had a big day at the plate, 3-for-5 with three doubles and three RBI and Marlon Byrd got on base and scored three runs (2-for-3 with a double, two walks and three runs scored) but Carlos Pena continued his struggles with a 0-for-3 day that included two walks.
Aramis Ramirez hit three doubles in the same game for fourth time in his career, first time since July 29, 2008 and Marlon Byrd’s first two walks of 2011 led to runs.
The Cubs offense showed a lot of patience, and promise, early against Yovani Gallardo. Four of the first six hits off Gallardo went for extra bases (two doubles by Ramirez and doubles by Tyler Colvin and Casey Coleman) but they could not hit late in the game against the Brewers pen.
Casey Coleman had a decent outing. Coleman completed five innings of work and made only two mistakes … and one could have been avoided if the defense turns a routine double play. Coleman allowed four runs on nine hits with a walk and two strikeouts in his first game of the year. All four runs scored on two swings by Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Coleman threw 81 pitches, 52 for strikes, and chipped in at the plate with a double and two sacrifice bunts.
Marcos Mateo was in line for his first big league win after retiring the Brewers in order in the sixth. Sean Marshall did his job again and picked up his third hold of the season.
Kosuke Fukudome made two excellent catches Sunday afternoon but the last one could have cost the Cubs. Fukudome left after a tremendous shoestring catch to end the fifth with a mild strain in his left hamstring. Fukudome is listed as day-to-day and will be re-evaluated Monday.
With Sunday’s loss, the Cubs dropped below the .500 mark again with a 4-5 record on the young season …
Starlin Castro reached on a single to left center on a 1-1 pitch. Marlon Byrd walked on five pitches, his first free pass of the season. Aramis Ramirez then put together an excellent at bat. Ramirez worked the count to 2-2 before ripping a double down the left field line on the seventh pitch of the at bat. Castro and Byrd scored … 2-0 Cubs.
Carlos Pena struck out looking and Geovany Soto struck out swinging to end the inning.
Casey Coleman took the hill with a 2-0 lead … that did not last long.
Rickie Weeks reached on an infield single. Castro and Barney had a little miscommunication on the chopper over the mound. Coleman then induced a grounder off the bat of Carlos Gomez to third base. Aramis Ramirez took his time throwing to second. Weeks was forced but Gomez was called safe on a bang-bang play.
Ryan Braun popped out to first on a 1-2 pitch but Prince Fielder worked the count to 3-2 before launching a homer to left center. Fielder’s two run shot tied the game at two.
Mark Kotsay doubled to left but Yuniesky Betancourt popped out to center to end the inning. Coleman threw 22 pitches in the first, 17 for strikes.
The Cubs took the lead right back in the third. Tyler Colvin doubled down the right field line on a 2-2 pitch. Darwin Barney followed with a bloop single to right center on a 1-0 offering. Colvin scored … 3-2 Cubs.
Casey Coleman sacrificed Barney to second but Fukudome popped out on a 2-0 pitch and Castro grounded out to short to end the inning.
The Cubs tacked on in the fourth … but it should have been more.
Marlon Byrd led off with a four-pitch walk and came around to score on Aramis Ramirez’s second double of the game. Ramirez hit a double into right center on a 2-2 pitch. Carlos Pena walked on four pitches.
Geovany Soto swung at the first and grounded to Betancourt in the shift. The Brewers’ shortstop ran to the bag and barely beat Pena. Soto was called safe on another bang-bang play … but it would not matter.
With runners on first and third and one out, Tyler Colvin hit into a 3-6-3 inning ending double play.
The Brewers tied the game in the bottom of the third. Carlos Gomez doubled to right center on a 0-1 pitch. Ryan Braun then launched a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left. Braun celebrated as he rounded the bases. Apparently the Cubs new coaching staff did not receive the scouting reports on Braun and Fielder.
The Cubs had another chance in the fourth against Gallardo … but could not hit when it counted. Casey Coleman doubled to right center with one out. Kosuke Fukudome walked but Starlin Castro hit into a 4-6 fielder’s choice and Marlon Byrd grounded out to second on a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.
Aramis Ramirez led off the fifth with a double to right center. Carlos Pena grounded out to second, Ramirez advanced to third but was thrown out at the plate on a grounder to third off Soto’s bat. Ramirez was running on contact and was out by a half mile. With Soto at first, Colvin worked the count to 3-2 before flying out to the track in center to end the inning.
The Cubs made Yovani Gallardo work. The Brewers’ ace threw 106 pitches in five innings, 59 for strikes.
The Cubs stranded another runner in the sixth … and in a tied game, the Cubs had left seven runners on base over the first six innings.
Casey Coleman turned the game over to the pen in the bottom of the sixth.
Marcos Mateo retired the Brewers in order in the sixth on 11 pitches, five for strikes.
Marlon Byrd led off the seventh with a double down the right field line off Sean Green. Aramis Ramirez popped out to center on the first pitch. Ron Roenicke went to his pen for lefty Mitch Stetter.
Carlos Pena walked and Roenicke went back to his pen for Kameron Loe.
With runners on first and second with one out, Geovany Soto stepped in and quickly fell behind 0-2. A wild pitch on a 2-2 offering advanced Byrd and Pena to second and third. Soto walked to load the bases.
Tyler Colvin hit a weak grounder to Fielder on the first pitch of the at bat. Fielder could not make a throw home and had to settle for tagging Colvin for the second out. Byrd scored and gave the Cubs a 5-4 lead.
Darwin Barney popped out to left to end the inning.
Sean Marshall kept the Brewers off the board in the seventh and the game remained 5-4 until the eighth.
Kerry Wood took the hill and jumped out in front of Yuniesky Betancourt 0-2 but he ended up walking him … and it cost the Cubs.
Craig Counsell sacrificed Betancourt to second and Wood struck out George Kottaras for the second out.
Casey McGehee, who has promised to make the Cubs regret not giving him a chance pinch-hit for Kameron Loe. McGehee lined a 1-0 pitch from Wood over the wall in right center. McGehee’s first longball of the year gave the Brewers their first lead of the game.
Marlon Byrd led off the ninth with a single to right. For some reason Byrd ran on a 0-1 pitch to Aramis Ramirez and was thrown out at second. Aramis Ramirez struck out swinging and Carlos Pena completed his bad weekend by popping out to right to end the game.
The Cubs gave Sunday’s game away … poor defense and no clutch hitting.
The Cubs open a three-game series Monday night in Houston. Ryan Dempster against Nelson Figueroa.