Cubs Squeezed By a Single Run Again – Cubs 4 Nationals 5

Game Eighty-Eight – Cubs 4 Nationals 5
WP – Ryan Mattheus (2-0) LP – Kerry Wood (1-4) Save – Drew Storen (22)

The Chicago Cubs lost their third straight game to the Nationals by one-run and dropped to a season-worst 18 games under .500. Q’s Cubs are now 10-17 in games decided by one run … the Cubs have dropped five of their last six games by a total of six runs.

The difference in the game was a squeeze bunt, on the second attempt, in the seventh inning against Kerry Wood. Michael Morse led off the inning with a double to left center, advanced to third on a fly out to right and scored when Wilson Ramos executed a squeeze bunt.

Randy Wells’ horrible season continued Wednesday night in the Nation’s Capital and once again the offense could not out hit a poor pitching performance from one of their starters. Randy Wells could not complete five innings of work and allowed four runs on two, two-run homers. Wells was very hittable … the Nationals pounded out 10 hits in just four-plus innings.

Randy Wells should not be in the big leagues and it makes one wonder if they had any other options would he be still be with the team. Wells has been given every opportunity to succeed but instead he has steadily digressed from his promising rookie season.

All four of the Cubs runs scored on two big flies … one from Carlos Pena and the other from Aramis Ramirez.

Carlos Pena (1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) tied the game at two in the second with his 18th longball of the season and third off a southpaw. Aramis Ramirez (1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) hit his ninth homer in his last 14 games in the top of the sixth that tied the game at four.

Wednesday was the third time this season Pena and Ramirez hit home runs in the same game.

The Cubs managed just eight hits (1-for-5 with RISP, three left on base) and struck out 10 times against Nationals’ pitching. Q’s offense failed to score in the first inning and have not plated a run in the first inning of a game since June 27.

With Wednesday’s loss, the Cubs are a pathetic 35-53 on the season, 18 games below .500 …

Tom Gorzelanny retired his old teammates in order to start the ballgame. The Cubs were very aggressive against Gorzelanny and made him throw only 10 pitches.

The Nationals came out swinging in the bottom of the first and jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead … just nine minutes after Tom Gorzelanny’s first pitch.

Roger Bernadina led off the bottom of the first with an infield single up the middle. Castro took a little too long to throw the ball after making a fine play to field the ball. Danny Espinosa, who is making a big case for NL Rookie of the Year honors, stepped in. Bernadina stole second on Wells’ first offering to Espinosa.

Danny Espinosa launched a 2-1 pitch over the wall in right … two batters into the game, both scored and Wells was down 2-0.

Ryan Zimmerman followed Espinosa’s homer with a double … three batters, three hits off Wells. To Wells’ credit he settled down, somewhat, and stuck out Laynce Nix for the first out. Michael Morse grounded out to the hole at short, Zimmerman advanced to third but was stranded when Jayson Werth grounded out to third to end the inning.

Geovany Soto led off the second with a single to right. Carlos Pena then tied the game with a long homer to right center. Pena’s 18th of the season, third off a southpaw. Byrd popped out to second and Soriano flied out to deep center.

Darwin Barney flipped the order with a single to center and Wells struck out to end the second.

The Nationals ran themselves out of the bottom of the second inning. Wilson Ramos led off the inning and ripped a 3-2 pitch into the gap in left center. Ramos did not hustle out of the box and tried to take second anyway. Byrd gunned down the Nationals’ catcher at second base.

Ian Desmond followed with a single to right … the Nationals fifth hit (in eight batters) off Randy Wells. Gorzelanny bunted Desmond to second but Wells was able to get of the jam by striking out Roger Bernadina to end the inning.

Reed Johnson led off the third with a single to left. After Castro flied out to deep right, Ramirez and Soto flied out to the wall in left center and center respectively to end the inning.

Four warning track fly ball outs in the first three innings … kinda says a lot about the Cubs offense.

Randy Wells worked around an error by Darwin Barney that allowed Espinosa to reach to start the bottom of the third. Espinosa stole second with Zimmerman at the plate and advanced to third when Zimmerman flied out to right center. Nix struck out swinging and Morse flied out to right to end the third.

Alfonso Soriano reached on two-out bloop single to left center but Gorzelanny picked him off to end the inning (1-3-6).

Randy Wells started showing fatigue in the bottom of the fourth but was able to wiggle his way out of another jam. Wilson Ramos singled to center with one out and advanced to third on a two-out single to right center by Tom Gorzelanny … his first hit of the season (0-for-20 prior). Wells served up a 1-2 pitch to the opposing pitcher …

Wells struck out Roger Bernadina looking to end the fourth.

The Cubs did nothing against Gorzelanny in the top of the fifth.

The Nationals took the lead again on their second two-run homer of the game in the bottom of the fifth … and chased Wells from the game before he could record an out.

The first four batters reached against Wells in the fifth before Quade could make a change. Like his last start against the White Sox, the Nationals scored quickly and took the lead in a blink of an eye.

Wells walked Danny Espinosa to start the inning. Ryan Zimmerman launched a 1-0 pitch into the stands in left and gave the Nationals a 4-2 lead. As Wells continued to look like a deer in headlights, the Nationals kept taking batting practice.

Laynce Nix followed Zimmerman’s homer with a single to right. Michael Morse singled to left on Wells’ first pitch … and Quade made the slow walk to the mound.

Randy Wells turned the game over to Chris Carpenter with two on, no outs and the Cubs down 4-2.

Chris Carpenter’s first pitch sailed over Soto’s head all the way to the backstop. Both runners advanced on the wild pitch but Carpenter settled down and retired Jayson Werth on a pop out to short on a 3-2 pitch.

Carpenter then struck out Wilson Ramos looking and intentionally walked Ian Desmond to load the bases with two outs. Tom Gorzelanny struck out swinging on the ninth pitch of the at bat to end the inning. Carpenter did his job … and it took 24 pitches (14 for strikes) to do so.

Starlin Castro led off the bottom of the fifth with a double to right over Jayson Werth’s head … and Aramis Ramirez tied the game with a monster shot to center. Ramirez’s 14th of the season tied the game at four. Gorzelanny retired his former battery mate on a ground out to short, struck out Pena and Marlon Byrd swinging to end the inning.

Chris Carpenter retired three of the four batters he faced in the bottom of the sixth. Carpenter threw 40 pitches in his two innings of work, 26 for strikes, and continued to show promise at the big league level.

Ryan Mattheus took over for the Nationals in the seventh and issued a four-pitch walk to Alfonso Soriano to start the inning.

Instead of having Tony Campana run for Soriano, Quade decided to waste an out and have Darwin Barney bunt Soriano to second. Barney got the job done but Blake DeWitt lined into an unassisted double play to end the inning. DeWitt ripped a 2-0 pitch up the middle that Desmond caught and ran over and stepped on the bag. Soriano was caught in no man’s land … but should have never been there in the first place.

Quade’s decision to leave Soriano in the game likely cost his team a run in the bottom of the seventh. Kerry Wood replaced Carpenter and gave up a leadoff double to Michael Mores. The ball was hit into left center and a player with a little more speed would have caught up to the ball … but instead Morse ended up at second and advanced to third when Werth flied out to right center.

Davey Johnson put on the squeeze on the first pitch to Wilson Ramos. Ramos missed the sign, swung away and lined a foul ball into the stands down the third baseline. After Wood threw a ball to Ramos, Johnson put the squeeze back on and it worked to perfection. Morse scored … 5-4 Nationals. Wood struck out Ian Desmond to end the inning.

Reed Johnson led off the eighth with a single to center. Henry Rodriguez struck out Castro swinging but uncorked a wild pitch on a 0-2 pitch to Ramirez. Johnson took second but was stranded when Ramirez ended up striking out … and Soto looked at strike three to end the inning.

John Grabow tried to give the Nationals a little cushion in the ninth (bunt single, balk and intentional walk) but the scored remained 5-4 into the ninth.

Drew Storen retired the Cubs in order on nine pitches to end the game.

Just bad baseball at it’s finest.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Matt Garza against Livan Hernandez in the finale of the four-game series Thursday night.

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney