Game Twenty-One – Cubs 3 Dodgers 7
WP – Hiroki Kuroda (3-2) LP – Carlos Zambrano (2-1) Save – None
The Cubs began play Sunday with a chance to win a series and improve to a game over .500 … but for the fourth Sunday of the young season Q’s squad lost the rubber game. The Cubs have not posted a victory on Sunday in 2011 and are 1-6 in the third and final game of a series.
Sunday’s game was essentially over after the first inning. The Dodgers came out swinging against Carlos Zambrano and before the Big Z could record an out the Dodgers had already plated three runs. The Dodgers ended up putting a five-spot on the board before the Cubs were able to step to the plate.
Z had a bad start and lost for the first time since last August (10-1). Zambrano completed a season-low five innings after giving up six runs, all earned, on eight hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Z threw only 85 pitches, 55 for strikes, on a day he did not have it.
The Dodgers offense pounded out another 11 hits, led by Aaron Miles, and scored seven runs. Miles seemingly tallied more hits Sunday at Wrigley (3-for-5 with a triple, a run scored and a RBI) than he did as a Cub throughout the entire 2009 season. The Dodgers scored 27 runs in the three game series while the Cubs managed only 15 runs … and not a single home run for Q’s squad.
Q’s offense had plenty of opportunities Sunday. They recorded 10 hits, three for extra bases, but not many with runners in scoring position. The Cubs offense finished 4-for-12 with RISP and left eight runners on base.
Despite the two errors Sunday, the Cubs played better defense and turned three inning ending double plays.
Justin Berg, Kerry Wood and Marcos Mateo finished the game with three scoreless innings.
The Cubs lost another series to the Dodgers and with Sunday’s loss dropped back below the .500 mark with a 10-11 record … When Aaron Miles led off the game with his first triple since August of 2009, the writing was on the wall that it was going to be a rough afternoon for Carlos Zambrano.
Following Miles’ triple, Carlos Zambrano hit Casey Blake on a 0-1 pitch. Andre Ethier then hit a grounder to first that went off Carlos Pena’s glove. Pena appeared to rush the play as his momentum was taking him toward second base. Barney picked up the ball and tossed to first as Miles was crossing the plate. Ethier beat the throw and extended his hitting streak to 21 games.
Matt Kemp followed with a single to left. Blake scored and with Hiroki Kuroda on the mound, the 2-0 lead seemed insurmountable … but the Dodgers kept hitting.
Jerry Sands ripped a 1-0 pitch into right. Sands’ double plated Ethier with the Dodgers’ third run. With runners on second and third with no outs, James Loney grounded out to first, Kemp scored and the Dodgers were up by four.
With Jerry Sands at third, Rob Barajas hit a sacrifice fly into left. Alfonso Soriano positioned himself for a throw to the plate. Soriano’s throw was off-line and Sands scored the Dodgers’ fifth run of the game.
The Cubs argued Sands left early and replays showed they were right. Mike Quade argued but the run counted and the game was basically over at that point. Jamey Carroll flied out to right on Z’s 20th pitch (12 for strikes) to end the inning.
The Cubs tried to get back in the game in the bottom of the first, and almost did. The Cubs actually did a better job against Kuroda Sunday than they had in the past.
Kosuke Fukudome led off the inning with a double to right … his first extra base hit of the season. Darwin Barney followed with a single to left. Fukudome held at third. Starlin Castro then ripped a 1-0 pitch to short. The ball ate up Jamey Carroll and ended up in shallow left center. Fukudome scored on the error … 5-1 Dodgers.
The middle of the Cubs lineup then showed why Hiroki Kuroda has had so much success against the Cubs. Aramis Ramirez struck out swinging on a ball well out of the strike zone. With runners on first and third and one out, Carlos Pena ripped Kuroda’s first pitch into center. Barney scored and the Cubs were down by only three.
Marlon Byrd had a horrible at bat and struck out on three pitches.
A wild pitch on the first offering to Alfonso Soriano advanced Castro and Pena to second and third. A hit from Soriano would have turned the game around but Soriano struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.
Hiroki Kuroda struck out the side with three pitches well out of the strike zone.
Z faced the minimum in the second thanks to the first of three double plays turned by the Cubs defense.
The Cubs began swinging at everything Kuroda threw up at that point. Kuroda struck out the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the second (Soto and Zambrano). At that point Kuroda had struck out four in a row and all five outs he had recorded over the first 1 2/3 innings were via a strikeout.
Matt Kemp led off the third with a double to left. Z struck out Jerry Sands but James Loney got just enough of a 1-0 pitch to plate Kemp with the Dodgers’ sixth run. Z jammed Loney and broke his bat but the Dodgers’ first baseman got the better end of a Cubs’ pitcher once again.
Zambrano dodged another bullet in the fifth but did not take the mound in the sixth. Quade turned to his pen and John Grabow.
The Dodgers tacked on another run off John Grabow and put the game away.
Rod Barajas reached on a one-out single to center. After Jamey Carroll flied out to right, Hiroki Kuroda reached on a error by Starlin Castro. Aaron Miles followed with a single to center. Barajas scored and Kuroda advanced to third on the play. Grabow could not find the strike zone and walked Casey Blake to load the bases … but Andre Ethier flied out to right to end the inning.
The Cubs had a chance to get the run back in the bottom of the sixth … but ran themselves out of the inning. Aramis Ramirez reached on a one-out single to center. After Carlos Pena flied out to right, Marlon Byrd dropped a single into left. Ramirez rounded second and thought about third. Sands threw behind Ramirez to second and nailed the Cubs’ third baseman to end the inning.
The Cubs final run came in the seventh. Geovany Soto doubled to left with one out. After Tyler Colvin pinch hit for Justin Berg and popped out to short on the first pitch, Kosuke Fukudome reached on an infield single off Kuroda. Darwin Barney singled to center, Soto scored and the Cubs were down 7-3.
With runners on first and third with two outs, Starlin Castro grounded out to short to end the inning.
The Cubs went quietly in the eighth and ninth to end the game. The way the roster is currently structured, the Cubs do not have hitters that can grind out at bats and beat good teams late. The last time a Cubs team won a game when trailing after eight innings was September 24, 2009.
One step forward, one step back …
Weather permitting … the Cubs begin a three-game homestand Monday night against the Colorado Rockies. Matt Garza against Esmil Rogers in game one.