Game Fifty-Two – Cubs 7 Astros 12
WP – Sergio Escalona (1-0) LP – Jeff Samardzija (3-1) Save – None
Monday’s game started on a bad note, picked up in the middle and ended with another embarrassing loss. The Cubs took a 6-3 lead into fifth but the pitching staff could not keep the ball down. The Astros hit four home runs, all from the fifth inning on, and scored nine unanswered runs. Houston quickly turned a three-run deficit into a route. The Astros pounded out 16 hits and scored a season-high 12 runs … the Astros’ previous high came back on April 12 when Houston beat the Cubs 11-2.
On a hitter’s day at Wrigley, the Cubs managed only one home run while the Astros hit four … the Cubs have been out-homered at Wrigley this season 29-16 and 17-2 when the wind is blowing out. Monday was the second time in three games that Cubs’ pitching has served up four home runs.
The Cubs lack of quality pitching depth was on full display Memorial Day.
Rodrigo Lopez made his Cubs’ debut and was serviceable over the first four innings but could not get out of the fifth after the offense had given him a 6-3 cushion. Lopez started leaving everything up and back-to-back homers off the bats of Clint Barmes and Hunter Pence tied the game. Lopez allowed six runs on 10 hits without a walk and four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. Lopez threw 87 pitches in his Cubs debut, 64 for strikes.
The Cubs’ bullpen was horrible in relief of Lopez. Jeff Samardzija gave up two runs on two hits with a walk, two strikeouts and two wild pitches in 1 2/3 innings. Samardzija served up one of the Astros’ four home runs.
John Grabow was credited with an unearned run (the Cubs defense was charged with three errors and it could have been more) in his 1 2/3 innings and Scott Maine gave up three runs on three hits with a walk in his inning of work. Maine served up the Astros’ fourth homer of the game, a three-run shot by Jeff Keppinger in the ninth.
The Cubs offense looked good early on but could not manage anything off the Astros’ pen. Seven of the Cubs 10 hits came off the Astros’ starter. Still on a day the offense gives the pitching staff six runs at home, the team should win the game.
The Cubs scored six of their seven runs in the first four innings. Carlos Pena (1-for-5 with a home run and three RBI) gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead with his seventh homer of the year, a two-run shot in the first.
Darwin Barney (1-for-5 with a triple and a run scored), Starlin Castro (2-for-5 with a double, a RBI, a stolen base and two runs scored) and Tony Campana (1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and four stolen bases) sparked the offense early on but Houston’s three-run fifth seemed to take the air out of the entire team.
On his 25th birthday, Tony Campana had a big day at the old ballyard. Campana stole four bases (third base twice) and in the process became the first Cub since Juan Pierre on June 15, 2006 to swipe four bags in a single game. Campana stole second and third in the second that led to the Cubs fourth run of the game. Campana’s two steals in the second was the first time a Cub had stolen two bases in the same inning since Alfonso Soriano on August 25, 2008.
Alfonso Soriano left Monday’s game in the bottom of the first with a strained left quad. Soriano hit a smash down the third base line that Chris Johnson made a nice diving stop on to save an extra base hit. Soriano tried to beat out the throw and grabbed the top of his leg about three quarters of the way down the line.
D.J. LeMahieu made his big league debut Monday afternoon. LeMahieu pinch-hit for John Grabow and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
The Cubs let another one slip away on Monday afternoon. With Monday’s loss, the Cubs are now 3-4 on the homestand and back to six games below the mediocre mark on the season (23-29) …
With the Astros up 1-0, Carlos Lee flied out to right and Pence advanced to third. Jeff Keppinger continued taking it to the Cubs and blooped a double into shallow center. Tony Campana tried to make a diving catch toward the infield; the ball went off his glove and allowed Pence to score and Keppinger to take second. Wallace grounded out to first to end the inning. Lopez threw 24 pitches in the first, 17 for strikes … and after a half inning, the Cubs were down 2-0.
Darwin Barney started the scoring in the first with a standing triple to left center, his third three-bagger of the year. Starlin Castro ripped Rodriguez’s first pitch into left and plated Barney with the Cubs’ first run.
With Ramirez at the plate, Castro swiped second. Aramis flied out to center, Castro tagged and advanced to third. Carlos Pena lined the first pitch he saw from Rodriguez into the basket in right. Pena’s seventh longball of the year gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead.
Alfonso Soriano ripped a 2-2 pitch down the third base line. Chris Johnson made an excellent diving stop, got to his feet and threw out Soriano at first. Soriano grabbed the top of his left leg three-quarters the way to first … and left the game with a left quad strain.
Rodrigo Lopez retired the bottom of the Astros’ order in the second on 10 pitches, nine for strikes.
Tony Campana led off the second with an infield single … and his speed led to the Cubs fourth run of the game.
Campana stole second on a 0-1 pitch to Geovany Soto. Soto ended up striking out and Rodrigo Lopez swung and missed at a 0-2 pitch for the second out. Kosuke Fukudome walked. Darwin Barney stepped in and Campana broke for third on the first pitch to Barney. J.R. Towles decided to throw behind Fukudome, who stopped and tried to retreat to first. The ball hit Fukudome on the leg and allowed Campana to trot in from third. The Cubs took a 4-2 lead into the top of the third.
Michael Bourn singled to left to start the third. After Clint Barmes popped out to second, Bourn stole second with Pence at the plate and advanced to third when Soto’s low throw ended up in centerfield. Pence lined out to right but Bourn did not tag in time and could not score on the fly out to right.
Carlos Lee blooped a 3-2 pitch just out of the reach of Darwin Barney in right center. Bourn scored … 4-3 Cubs. Jeff Keppinger grounded out to third to end the inning.
Aramis Ramirez reached on a one-out single to center in the bottom of the third. Carlos Pena flied out to right on a 3-0 pitch. Blake DeWitt stepped in for the first time since taking over for Soriano and ripped a 1-0 pitch into right center. DeWitt ended up at third with a standing triple as Ramirez scored the Cubs’ fifth run of the game.
Tony Campana walked and stole second but Geovany Soto struck out looking to end the inning.
Rodrigo Lopez retired Houston in order in the fourth … and the Cubs offense went back to work.
Kosuke Fukudome singled to right center with one out in the fourth. Following a foul out by Barney, Starlin Castro hit a deep drive to right. Hunter Pence lost the ball in the sun. Once he found it he could not catch it. The ball went off his glove and Fukudome scored all the way from first on the three-base error. Aramis Ramirez flied out to deep left to end the inning.
The Astros started playing longball in the fifth and chased Rodrigo Lopez from the game.
Bill Hall hit for Rodriguez and fouled out to third to start the inning.
Michael Bourn continued his big day and tripled to right center. Clint Barmes launched the first pitch from Lopez into the bleachers in left. Barmes’ two-run shot cut the Cubs lead to 6-5.
Hunter Pence then tied the game. Pence hit a 2-1-pitch way out to left.
Carlos Lee flied out to right but Keppinger singled to right and Brett Wallace reached on an infield single off the glove of a diving Carlos Pena. With the game tied at six and two on with two out, Quade went to his pen for Jeff Samardzija.
Samardzija struck out Chris Johnson swinging to end the inning.
The Cubs put a couple on in the bottom of the fifth against Sergio Escalona. Blake DeWitt reached on a one-out single to left center. Campana bunted the ball too hard back to the mound. DeWitt was thrown out at second for out number two. Geovany Soto walked and Quade sent Samardzija to the plate in a tie game with two outs and runners on first and second.
Campana stole third, his fourth stolen base of the game but Samardzija grounded out to short to end the inning.
The Astros took the lead for good in the sixth. J.R. Towles led off the inning with a wind-blown homer to left on a 2-1 pitch from Samardzija. The Cubs got out of the sixth without allowing any more runs but the Cubs’ offense could not figure out Enerio Del Rosario.
The Cubs went down in order quickly in the bottom of the sixth.
The Astros tacked on three more in the seventh, with a little help from the Cubs defense, and put the game out of reach.
Hunter Pence led off with a single to left. Samardzija uncorked the first of two wild pitches in the inning. Pence advanced to second and held after Samardzija walked Lee on four pitches.
Jeff Samardzija uncorked his second wild pitch of the inning on a 2-2 offering to Keppinger. Pence and Lee moved up ninety feet. Keppinger then reached and popped up ball four into foul ground. Barney snagged the first out of the inning.
Quade went to his pen and brought in John Grabow to face Brett Wallace.
Wallace hit a weak grounder towards short on a 1-1 pitch. Lee appeared to shield Castro; the ball got under his glove and ended up in left. Pence scored and Lee tried … but Blake DeWitt threw him out at the plate for the second out.
Chris Johnson hit a 2-1 pitch toward the line in left. DeWitt tried to circle the ball but slipped and kicked it into the sidewall. Wallace scored easily on the Cubs second error of the inning. Towles grounded out to short but the damage had been done … 9-6 Astros.
The Cubs’ seventh run came in the ninth after Starlin Castro doubled to right center. Ramirez grounded out to short; Castro advanced to third on the play and scored on a groundout to first off the bat of Carlos Pena.
The Cubs lost six of nine to the Astros at Wrigley last season … and with Monday’s loss, the Cubs are just 3-7 in their last 10 at home to the ‘Stros.
Carlos Zambrano will face rookie Jordan Lyles under the lights Tuesday. Lyles was the Astros’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season and will be making his big league debut.