Game Seventy-Six – Cubs 2 Royals 3
WP – Greg Holland (2-1) LP – Jeff Samardzija (5-4) Save – Joakim Soria (12)
Once again the Cubs had plenty of chances to win a game … and once again the Cubs came up short. The Cubs and Royals were tied at two until the bottom of the eighth.
Jeff Samardzija took over with one out in the eighth and after two walks, a passed ball and an infield single, the Royals took a 3-2 lead. Chris Getz made up for his error on Friday night that allowed the Cubs to take the lead on in the ninth. Getz reached on an infield single that Samardzija tried to field barehanded. Samardzija deflected the ball, Castro could not make the play and Jeff Francoeur scored the go ahead, and eventual winning run.
Samardzija took the loss after allowing one run on one hit with two walks, a hit batsman and a strikeout in a third of an inning.
Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto hit back-to-back jacks in the sixth inning and provided the Cubs only offensive highlights of the game.
Aramis Ramirez celebrated his 33rd birthday with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate that included his sixth homer of the year. Ramirez put together a good day in the field and made a fine catch on a ball in the camera well.
Geovany Soto hit his sixth of the season as well but continued to look lost in his other three plate appearances.
Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak to nine games with a 1-for-3 night at the plate that included a walk.
Reed Johnson (2-for-4 with a stolen base) was thrown out at the plate in the third inning, the fifth out the Cubs made on the bases in the series (12 innings). Ivan DeJesus waived in Johnson and it was a horrible call by the Cubs’ third base coach.
The overly aggressive Cubs’ offense allowed Danny Duffy to complete a career-high seven innings of work. The rookie threw only 91 pitches and walked one batter. Duffy hit Luis Montanez to start the fifth but only two free baserunners against a rookie that struggles with his command just reinforces one of the big problems with this roster.
Q’s offense scored only two runs on nine hits and finished the game 1-for-4 without a RBI with runners in scoring position and left six on base.
Carlos Zambrano used the double play ball to get out of jams in the first two innings and ended up putting together a decent outing. Zambrano allowed two runs on eight hits in seven innings of work. Zambrano retired the last eight batters he faced and with any support would have picked up a win. Big Z threw 111 pitches, 69 for strikes.
On the night the Royals ended their six-game losing streak, the Cubs dropped back to 14 below .500 with a 31-45 record … The Cubs offense was predictably aggressive against Danny Duffy the first time through the lineup. Starlin Castro walked and Aramis Ramirez singled in the first … but that was it. Duffy threw 25 pitches in the first two innings, 15 for strikes.
Carlos Zambrano was effective over the first two innings and used two double plays to end both the first and second inning. Z walked Eric Hosmer with one out in the first but Billy Butler hit into a 4-3 inning ending double play.
The Royals looked like they would score the game’s first run in the bottom of the second. Mitch Maier reached on an infield single to third and advanced to third on a single to right by Mike Moustakas. Matt Treanor stepped in and hit a 1-2 pitch back up the middle to Starlin Castro who stepped on the bag and fired to first. The 6-3 double play ended the second. Zambrano’s pitch count after two innings: 31, 19 for strikes.
Reed Johnson reached on a one-out single to right in the top of the third. Castro broke his bat and blooped a single into left. Castro extended his hitting streak to nine games and the Cubs had runners on first and second with one out.
Jeff Baker ripped Duffy’s first pitch into left. As Alex Gordon got to the ball, Ivan DeJesus waived in Johnson who had just reached third base. Gordon threw a strike to Treanor and Johnson was out by a mile … the fifth out made by the Cubs on the bases in the first 12 innings of the series.
Aramis Ramirez flied out to left center to end the inning.
Big Z worked his way out of big jam in the bottom of the third. Chris Getz led off the inning and tried to bunt his way on. The former Southsider bunted the ball right to Carlos Pena and was an easy out. The former Brewer, Alcides Escobar, followed with a triple to right center on a 2-1 pitch. Jarrod Dyson then dropped down a bunt to first. Escobar broke for the plate on the safety squeeze but stopped when Pena fielded the ball cleanly. Dyson reached on the bunt single and the Royals had runners on first and third with one out.
Eric Hosmer fouled out to Aramis Ramirez on Z’s first pitch and Billy Butler flied out to Luis Montanez in shallow right to end the inning.
After three, Z’s pitch count stood at 48, 28 for strikes.
The Cubs went down in order in the fourth and Zambrano worked around a leadoff walk to Alex Gordon, thanks to a fine catch by Aramis Ramirez leaning into the camera well, in the bottom of the fourth.
At the end of four … the score was zilch to nada.
The Cubs offense stayed aggressive against Danny Duffy in the fifth … just a bad game plan against a pitcher that a team as never faced before. Luis Montanez was hit by a pitch to start the fifth but was erased on a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of LeMahieu. Reed Johnson singled to left with two outs. Starlin Castro flied out to right center to end the inning. After five, Duffy had thrown only 58 pitches, 34 for strikes.
The Royals continued putting pressure on Zambrano in the fifth … and finally put runs on the board.
Alcides Escobar reached on a one-out infield single to the hole at second. Z then walked Jarrod Dyson. Eric Hosmer ripped a 1-0 pitch into right. Escobar scored … 1-0 Royals.
The Royals kept squaring up Zambrano. Billy Butler hammered a 1-1 pitch into left. Dyson scored easily, 2-0 Royals. Alex Gordon extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single to right. Hosmer held at third and loaded the bases with one out.
Mitch Maier hit a lazy liner to Castro for the second out and Mike Moustakas fouled out to Pena to end the inning.
Z’s pitch count after five: 94 total, 56 for strikes.
The Cubs finally got on the board and tied the game with two big swings in the top of the sixth.
Jeff Baker struck out swinging to start the sixth. Aramis Ramirez then hit a mile-high fly to left. The ball kept traveling and ended up beyond the wall in left. Ramirez’s sixth of the season cut the Royals lead to 2-1.
Geovany Soto lined a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left … back-to-back jacks. Soto’s sixth tied the game at two.
Alfonso Soriano singled to left center but Carlos Pena grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Carlos Zambrano retired the Royals in order for the first time in the sixth … and once again in the seventh. Z retired the last eight batters he faced and turned the game over to the Cubs pen.
Zambrano’s line: two runs on eight hits with three walks and two strikeouts in seven innings, 111 pitches, 69 for strikes.
The Cubs went down in order in the eighth … but hit three balls extremely hard against Greg Holland.
John Grabow started the eighth and retired Alex Gordon on one pitch, a fly out to right. Quade went to his pen once Jeff Francoeur was announced for Mitch Maier and brought in Jeff Samardzija.
Samardzija walked the free-swinging Francoeur. On a 1-1 pitch to Moustakas, Francoeur stole second. Samardzija ended up walking Moustakas and Ned Yost went to his bench for Wilson Betemit. Betemit, hit for Matt Treanor, and after a passed ball on a 2-2 pitch that moved both runners up ninety feet, Betemit struck out swinging.
Chris Getz made up for his error on Friday night that allowed the Cubs to score the winning run. Getz hit a 2-2 pitch back up the middle that Samardzija tried to field with his pitching hand. The ball changed direction, Castro could not make the play, Francoeur scored and the Royals took a 3-2 lead.
Samardzija’s wild inning continued. He hit Alcides Escobar on a 1-2 pitch to load the bases.
Quade decided at that point he’d seen enough and brought in James Russell to face Jarrod Dyson with the bases loaded and two out. Yost went to his bench and sent Melky Cabrera up to hit for Dyson.
James Russell struck out Melky Cabrera looking to end the inning.
Joakim Soria struck out the side in the ninth (Soriano, Pena and DeWitt) to end the game.
It’s a Way of Life …
Randy Wells against Luke Hochevar in the finale on Sunday afternoon.