Game Twenty-Eight – Cubs 2 Dodgers 5
WP – Clayton Kershaw (3-3) LP – James Russell (1-4) Save – Jonathan Broxton (7)
When the Cubs announced Monday would be another ‘Bullpen Day‘ and James Russell would face Clayton Kershaw it was easy to see that the Cubs would drop the first of three at Dodger Stadium.
To James Russell’s credit he put together a better outing than expected and the Cubs defense stepped up behind him. The Dodgers’ all right-handed lineup hit the ball extremely hard against Russell but the Cubs situational lefty trailed only by one run entering the fifth inning.
Monday night’s game changed on another strange play. With the Dodgers up 2-1, one out in the fifth and Rod Barajas on second, James Russell struck out Clayton Kershaw swinging on a ball in the dirt. The ball got away from Geovany Soto and actually hit Kershaw’s bat on the follow through. The ball was pushed away from Soto, which allowed Kershaw to reach and Barajas to advance to third. Jerry Meals, the homeplate umpire, missed the call. Mike Quade argued but the play stood and the inning unraveled soon after.
James Russell threw out Barajas at the plate on an attempted squeeze, but Jerry Sands doubled to right center on a 2-2 pitch and gave the Dodgers a comfortable 4-1 lead. Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to 28 games with an infield single that drove in the Dodgers’ fifth run of the game.
The Dodgers would not score another run but the Cubs could not string together any hits against Clayton Kershaw.
The Cubs second run of the night came in the seventh on a leadoff homer by Alfonso Soriano. Soriano’s Major League leading 11th longball cut the Dodgers lead to 5-2 but Vicente Padilla and Jonathan Broxton retired all six batters they faced to close out the game.
James Russell lost for the fourth time as a big league starter after allowing five runs, four earned, on six hits in 4 2/3 innings. Russell kept the ball in the yard and did not issue a free pass while striking out three on a career-high 83 pitches. Russell recorded his first 1-2-3 inning as a starter and retired seven at a row at one point … and Russell even recorded the first hit of his career.
The Cubs’ brass once again did not put James Russell in a position to succeed. As Mike Quade stated two starts ago, Russell is a situational reliever … too bad the decision makers within the organization could see that.
Alfonso Soriano’s 11th home run of the season was really the only offensive highlight Monday night … of Soriano’s 11 dingers, seven have been hit leading off innings.
Clayton Kershaw owned Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney. The top of the Cubs lineup was a combined 0-for-8 and left five on base.
The Cubs had chances early in the game before Kershaw found his rhythm but once again Q’s offense could not hit with runners on base. The Cubs out hit the Dodgers (8-7) but just 1-for-4 with RISP with six left on base.
With Monday’s loss, the Cubs slipped four games under the mediocre mark with a 12-16 record …
Marlon Byrd reached on a two-out single to center and advanced to second on a single to center by Aramis Ramirez. Geovany Soto then blooped a double down the right field line on a 1-1 pitch. Byrd scored and the Cubs had runners on second and third with two outs.
Alfonso Soriano had a chance to give the Cubs a nice lead against Kershaw but he hit a weak blooper to short to end the inning.
The Cubs scored the first run allowed by the Dodgers at home in the first inning this season … but they let Kershaw off the hook.
James Russell retired the Dodgers in order in the bottom of the first, it was the only time as a starter that he sat the opponent down 1-2-3. Russell was sharp early but started leaving up pitches in the second.
Matt Kemp led off the second with a single to left. Kemp stole second on a 1-0 offering to Juan Uribe. The former Southsider then ripped a double into right. Kemp scored and tied the game at one.
Marcus Thames fouled out to Castro and Rod Barajas flied out to center. With first base open and Clayton Kershaw on deck, Mike Quade decided to let Russell pitch to Ivan DeJesus, Jr. … and it cost the Cubs a run.
DeJesus, Jr. fisted a 2-2 pitch down the first base line. The ball rolled into foul ground and was touched by a fan. DeJesus, Jr. ended up at first and Uribe scored the go ahead run on the first career RBI for Ivan DeJesus, Jr.
Clayton Kershaw flied out to left to end the inning … further proving the point Russell should have not been allowed to pitch to Ivan DeJesus, Jr.
The Cubs defense stepped up behind James Russell in the third and fourth innings Marlon Byrd took away extra bases from Jerry Sands with a catch against the wall in right center in the third. Reed Johnson made a solid running catch in right center to take a hit away from Matt Kemp in the fourth.
James Russell retired nine of 10 and seven in a row before falling apart in the fifth.
Rod Barajas led off the fifth with a double off the wall in left center. DeJesus, Jr. grounded out to short then Russell struck out Kershaw on a ball in the dirt. Kershaw hit the ball with his bat, which allowed it to roll away from Soto. Kershaw reached and Barajas advanced to third on what should have been an out.
Kershaw touched the ball with his bat, which makes it a dead ball and the batter should have been out. The home plate umpire, Jerry Meals, missed the call. Quade argued to no avail … and the game slipped away from the Cubs at that point.
Don Mattingly called for the squeeze but Jamey Carroll bunted the ball right back to Russell. The lefty made a nice play and tossed the ball to Soto as he fell to the ground. Soto tagged out Barajas for the second out.
Jerry Sands ripped a 2-2 pitch into right center. Kershaw and Carroll scored … 4-1 Dodgers. Sands ended up at third after Byrd’s throw got away and he scored on an infield single by Andre Ethier to the hole at short. Ethier extended his hitting streak to 28 games and drove in the Dodgers fifth run of the night … and the fourth with two outs.
James Russell was lifted at that point after 83 pitches, 57 for strikes.
Justin Berg retired Matt Kemp on a ground out to short to end the inning.
Alfonso Soriano led off the seventh with his 11th home run of the season and cut the Dodgers lead to 5-2. Reed Johnson singled to center with one out to keep the inning going. Blake DeWitt hit for Justin Berg and punched a single into right on a 1-2 pitch. Johnson advanced to third … but Starlin Castro (struck out looking) and Darwin Barney (fly out to center) could not push across another run.
Jeff Samardzija pitched two more scoreless innings Monday night and gave the offense a chance … but Vicente Padilla and Jonathan Broxton retired the six batters they faced to end the game. Padilla and Broxton recorded six outs on a combined 19 pitches, 17 for strikes. The Cubs overly aggressive offense struck again …
It’s a Way of Life …
Ryan Dempster will face Chad Billingsley in game two Tuesday night.