Game Fifteen – Cubs 5 Rockies 9
WP – Marcos Mateo (0-1) LP – Rafael Betancourt (1-0) Save – None
For the third Sunday in a row the Cubs put themselves in position to win a series and for the third time they could not close out a game they had a lead in.
Ryan Dempster took the hill against rookie Alan Johnson, who was making his first appearance in the big leagues. Dempster was staked to a 1-0 lead before he took the hill and once again Dempster could not perform in a game that his team needed to win. While it is only one game, a win on Sunday would have given the Cubs a 5-4 trip and put them a game over .500 on the season.
Dempster was awful. He could not throw strikes but despite all of his troubles the offense, led by Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney, battled back from a 4-1 deficit and gave him a 5-4 lead going into the bottom of the fifth.
The Cubs Opening Day starter could not hold the lead once again and left after five innings with the game tied at five.
Ryan Dempster allowed five runs on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Dempster threw 104 pitches, 63 for strikes, in just five innings.
The game remained tied until the eighth. Ryan Spilborghs led off with an infield single, the Rockies fourth infield hit on the afternoon. Marcos Mateo got ahead of Jose Lopez 0-2 after the Rockies third baseman could not get a bunt down. Mateo appeared to throw strike three but the borderline pitch was called a ball. .Lopez blooped Mateo’s next pitch into right field.
Kosuke Fukudome was caught in between, let the ball fall and then bobbled it. Spilborghs and Lopez advanced ninety feet on what was ruled a double … but should have gone as an error on the Cubs’ right fielder.
Mateo struck out Jose Morales looking and pinch-hitter Ty Wigginton swinging. Dexter Fowler ran the count to 2-2 before ripping a ball into right center. Fowler ended up at second with a hustle double and the Rockies took a 7-5 lead.
Before the Cubs were able to get out of the inning, Jonathan Herrera and Carlos Gonzalez added RBI singles and turned a close game into another loss for the Cubs … one they had leads in on two different occasions.
Jeff Samardzija put together another good outing. Samardzija kept the Rockies off the board for two innings and gave up only an infield single to Carlos Gonzalez. Samardzija struck out one and issued two walks, one intentional, on 37 pitches, 19 for strikes.
Starlin Castro (3-for-4 with a double, a walk, a RBI and two runs scored) and Darwin Barney (2-for-5 with a run scored) once again led the way. Castro added three more hits, drove in a run and scored two. The top of the lineup set the table but the middle of the lineup failed to do their job.
Marlon Byrd, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Pena and Alfonso Soriano were 2-for-15 with two walks, a run scored and one RBI … a single by Ramirez in the third that cut the Rockies lead to 4-3. The Cubs third, fourth, fifth and sixth hitters left nine runners on base.
The Cubs finished a miserable 3-for-14 with RISP and left seven on base. Of the 10 hits, Starlin Castro notched the only extra base knock … a RBI double in the fourth that gave the Cubs a short-lived 5-4 lead.
The Cubs finished the 10-day, nine-game, three city road trip with a disappointing 4-5 record. Sunday’s loss dropped them back under the .500 mark with a 7-8 record … Sunday was a long game. It took three hours and 42 minutes for the two teams to complete nine innings.
The Cubs jumped on Alan Johnson in the first inning, but again, they should have scored more and let the rookie off the hook.
Starlin Castro led off the game with a single to left. Darwin Barney followed with a single to right on a 2-1 pitch. Castro advanced to third on the play.
Marlon Byrd, who is in the middle of a horrible slump, hit a grounder back up the middle on a 2-2 pitch. Tulowitzki fielded the ball, stepped on second and fired to first. Castro scored but Byrd failed to deliver again.
Aramis Ramirez tapped back to the mound and the Cubs overly aggressive offense made the rookie throw only 14 pitches in his first big league inning, eight for strikes.
Ryan Dempster took the hill with a 1-0 lead and promptly gave it up … and then some. Dempster could not throw strikes and was missing up and away. Dexter Fowler struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch. Dempster then walked Jonathan Herrera (ran the count to 3-2). Carlos Gonzalez ripped a 3-1 pitch into left center. Herrera was running and scored easily to tie the game at one.
Troy Tulowitzki popped out to center for the second out.
Ryan Dempster has never fared well against Todd Helton and the veteran first baseman ripped a single into right on a 2-0 offering. Gonzalez scored … 2-1 Rockies. Dempster still could not find the strike zone and served up a 1-1 slider to Seth Smith. Smith gave the Rockies a 4-1 lead with a long homer over the wall in center.
Jose Lopez lined out to left to end the inning. Dempster threw 29 pitches in the first, 14 for strikes.
The Cubs chipped away at the Rockies lead in the second.
Carlos Pena walked to start the inning. After Alfonso Soriano became Alan Johnson’s first big league strikeout, Johnson uncorked a wild pitch on a 1-2 offering to Kosuke Fukudome. Pena advanced to second and then to third when Kosuke grounded out to first.
The Rockies pitched to Soto and he delivered a two-out single to left. Pena scored … 4-2 Rockies. Dempster popped out to right center to end the inning.
Dempster took the mound in the second and continued to struggle.
Jose Morales singled to right on a 1-1 pitch. Alan Johnson sacrificed him to second. Fowler then walked after Dempster missed on a 3-2 pitch. The Rockies had runners on first and second with one out … and Dempster could not throw strikes.
Jim Tracy called for a hit and run on a 1-0 offering to Herrera. Dempster’s pitch was up and well out of the strike zone. Herrera swung and missed and Soto threw to third. The throw was off line but Ramirez caught it and tagged Morales after he over slid the bag. The Cubs caught a huge break with Tracy’s aggressive call.
Dempster struck out Herrera looking to end the inning.
The Cubs went back to work in the top of the third and tied the game.
Starlin Castro walked and advanced to second on a single to center by Barney. Marlon Byrd struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch … at that point Byrd was 3-for-30 with RISP on the season and 1-for-13 with RISP and less than two outs.
Aramis Ramirez delivered a single into left. Castro scored … 4-3 Rockies.
Carlos Pena hit a grounder to third on a 1-2 pitch. Jose Lopez tried to start an around the horn double play but Herrera threw high to first. Barney, who was at second, did not break stride around third and slid in safe with the tying run after the miscue. Soriano struck out swinging to end the inning.
Ryan Dempster put together his best inning of the afternoon in the third. Dempster retired Gonzalez, Tulowitzki and Helton in order.
The Cubs broke the 4-4 tie in the top of the fourth. Soto worked a one-out walk and advanced to second on a sac bunt to first by Dempster.
Starlin Castro ripped a 3-0 offering from Johnson down the left field line. Soto scored and gave the Cubs a 5-4 lead. Barney fouled out to first to end the inning.
But as the offense kept battling, Dempster kept giving runs away.
Seth Smith led off the bottom of the fourth with a double to left. Dempster was ahead in the count 0-2 at one point. Jose Lopez tapped back to the mound on a 2-2 pitch, Smith advanced to third on the play and scored on a ground out to second by Jose Morales (2-2 pitch). Dempster struck out Johnson looking to end the inning.
After Dempster dodged a bullet in the fifth after two, two-out infield singles by Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, the Cubs had a chance to plate a run or two in the top of the sixth.
Kosuke Fukudome and Geovany Soto led off the sixth with back-to-back singles. Mike Quade lifted Dempster instead of letting him sacrifice the runners into scoring position for Starlin Castro.
Blake DeWitt hit for Dempster and popped out to shallow left center on a 3-1 pitch. Castro ended up grounding out to first on a 3-1 pitch. Fukudome advanced to third on a 3-6 fielder’s choice … but Barney tapped back to the mound on the first pitch to end the inning.
Carlos Gonzalez reached on his second infield single of the game with two outs in the seventh. Gonzalez stole second on Samardzija’s first pitch to Tulowitzki. The Cubs decided to intentionally walk Tulowitzki after Gonzalez swiped the bag and took their chances with Todd Helton.
Jeff Samardzija fell behind Helton 3-0 before throwing one right down the middle. Helton then lined Samardzija’s next pitch into left center. Soriano made a nice running catch to end the inning.
The Cubs could not capitalize on a leadoff walk to Alfonso Soriano in the top of the eighth … so Marcos Mateo took the hill to begin the home half of the eighth.
Ryan Spilborghs reached on an infield to begin the inning. Mateo then appeared to strikeout Jose Lopez but Bob Davidson did not ring him up. Lopez ended up blooping a single into right. Fukudome bobbled the ball, which allowed both runners to advance 90 feet … what should have been an error was ruled a double and the Rockies were in business.
Marcos Mateo struck out Jose Morales and Ty Wigginton but with two outs Dexter Fowler ripped a hustle double into right center on a 2-2 pitch. Spilborghs and Lopez scored … 7-5 Rockies and the game was basically over.
Jonathan Herrera lined Mateo’s first pitch into right. Fowler scored easily and Herrera advanced to second on Fukudome’s throw to the plate. Carlos Gonzalez ripped a 1-1 offering from Mateo into center that plated Herrera. With the Rockies up 9-5, Mateo walked Troy Tulowitzki to end his afternoon.
Jeff Stevens took over for Mateo with runners on first and second with two outs. Todd Helton walked on four pitches then Stevens ran the count full before striking out swinging to end the inning.
Starlin Castro led off the ninth with his third hit of the game but was doubled off at first when Barney lined out to Tulowitzki. Marlon Byrd completed his weekend by lining out to third to end the game.
Once again the Cubs had a chance to win a series against a good team on the road but the players they are paying big money to could not get the job done.
The Cubs open a nine-game homestand Monday night with the first of three against the Padres. Carlos Zambrano versus Tim Stauffer in game one.