Cubs Strand Runners All Over the Place – Cubs 0 Braves 3

Game One Hundred Twenty-Eight – Cubs 0 Braves 3
WP – Jair Jurrjens (13-5) LP – Ryan Dempster (10-9) Save – Jonny Venters (5)

The Cubs had runners on base in every inning but the second, put runners in scoring position in all but two innings (second and seventh) and loaded the bases twice … but came away empty each time. Q’s Cubs outhit the Braves 9-6 and walked a season-high seven times, 16 baserunners and not a single run.

The Cubs finished the night a miserable 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left 15 runners on base … 15 runners on base.

Aramis Ramirez was on base four of his five trips to the plate with three singles and a walk. Ramirez extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a 3-for-4 night with a walk. Carlos Pena (2-for-4 with a walk), Darwin Barney (0-for-3 with two walks) and Blake DeWitt (0-for-3 with two walks) were seemingly on base all night.

Marlon Byrd (1-for-5) continued struggling with runners on base. Byrd left six runners on base Monday night and hit into an inning ending double play with the bases loaded in the first inning.

Ryan Dempster labored through his six innings of work and was the beneficiary of three excellent defensive plays behind him … two by Marlon Byrd and Darwin Barney took away another hit from Dan Uggla.

Dempster was not that sharp and the Braves offense squared him up pretty well on Monday night. Dempster allowed three runs on six hits with three walks and eight strikeouts (95 pitches, 60 for strikes). Dempster served up two more home runs … an opposite field homer by Freddie Freeman in the second and a bomb from Dan Uggla in the sixth that ended up on Waveland.

The Cubs bullpen tossed three perfect innings in relief of Dempster. James Russell, Jeff Samardzija and Kerry Wood struck out five of the nine batters they faced … with Wood striking out the side in the ninth. The Cubs pen did everything they could to keep the team in the game.

In the end it was the Cubs inability to hit with runners in scoring position that was the difference in the game. The entire lineup seemingly refuses to change their approach when the situation dictates them to do so.

With Monday’s loss, the Cubs dropped back to 16 games under .500 with a 56-72 record on the year …

Ryan Dempster faced the minimum in the first thanks to two excellent catches by Marlon Byrd in right center … and a 8-4-3 inning ending double play.

Michael Bourn led off the game with a hard single to center. Martin Prado launched Dempster’s first pitch to deep right center. Bourn started running as Byrd hustled over into right center. Byrd made an excellent running catch but was unable to double off Bourn … the Braves centerfielder had rounded second.

Brian McCann ripped a 0-1 pitch into right center. Byrd made another excellent catch and this time he was able to double off Bourn to end the inning. Dempster faced the minimum on just 10 pitches (seven for strikes) but he did not fool the first three batters in the Braves lineup.

The Cubs wasted a great opportunity to put runs on the board against Jair Jurrjens in the first inning.

Darwin Barney making only his fourth start of the season at short worked a walk to start the bottom of the first. Blake DeWitt hit a weak grounder to second that allowed Barney to advance into scoring position.

Aramis Ramirez extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single to left off Chipper Jones’ glove. Barney held at third with one out. Carlos Pena walked on four pitches to load the bases.

Marlon Byrd hit a 0-1 pitch to short … 6-4-3 inning ending double play. Byrd’s struggles with runners in scoring position continued. Byrd was 1-for-9 with the bases loaded at the time and was hitting just .198 with RISP.

Dempster struck out Dan Uggla to start the second … then hung one to Freddie Freeman. The Braves’ rookie first baseman launched Dempster’s first pitch into the bleachers in left center … 1-0 Braves on the opposite field homer. Chipper Jones flied out to right and Alex Gonzalez struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Jurrjens in the bottom of the second.

Jose Constanza led off the third with a solid single to right center. Constanza stole second on the first pitch to Jurrjens then took third on a bunt by the Braves’ starting pitcher. Jurrjens bunted the ball back to Dempster and he tried to throw out Constanza at third. Dempster threw low and the Braves had runners on first and third with no outs.

Michael Bourn struck out swinging on three pitches for the first out.

Martin Prado hit a 1-0 pitch to the hole at short. Barney fielded the ball and threw to second to force Jurrjens … Constanza scored on the play, 2-0 Braves. With Prado at first and two down, McCann looked at ball one before Dempster uncorked a wild pitch. Prado advanced to second. Dempster walked McCann on four pitches.

With two on and two out, Dan Uggla ripped a 2-1 pitch to the hole at short. Darwin Barney made an excellent diving stop on a ball ticketed for left field … and threw out McCann at second to end the inning.

Barney robbed Uggla of another hit …

The Braves squared up Ryan Dempster rather well in the first three innings (41 pitches, 25 for strikes).

The Cubs had another chance in the third after Blake DeWitt walked on four pitches with two down in the inning. Aramis Ramirez ripped another first pitch into left. With runners on first and second with two outs, Carlos Pena tried to check his swing on a 1-2 pitch but went too far … inning over.

Ryan Dempster continued to struggle in the fourth. Freeman walked on four pitches and advanced to second on a line drive single to center off the bat of Chipper Jones. Dempster settled down after putting the first two runners on in the fourth and struck out Alex Gonzalez, Jose Constanza and Jair Jurrjens to end the inning.

Alfonso Soriano blooped a one-out double into right in the fourth and advanced to third on a ground out to second by Colvin. Jurrjens intentionally walked Koyie Hill and retired Dempster on a ground out to second to end the inning.

The Braves did nothing against Ryan Dempster in the fifth.

The Cubs wasted yet another opportunity in the bottom of the fifth. Aramis Ramirez singled to left for the third time in the game. Carlos Pena followed with a single to right through the shift. Marlon Byrd then ripped a 0-1 pitch into center. Ramirez was held at third with two outs.

Alfonso Soriano flied out to right center to end the inning. After the at bat in the fifth inning, Soriano is 2-for-14 with the bases loaded this season.

The Cubs trailed 2-0 after five and were a miserable 2-for-7 with RISP (no RBI) and had left nine on base in the first five innings.

Dan Uggla made it 3-0 with one swing of the bat leading off the sixth. Uggla crushed a 1-1 pitch from Dempster and the ball ended up on Waveland. Dempster struck out Freeman and retired Jones on a come backer to the mound. Alex Gonzalez walked on four pitches and Constanza reached on an infield single to first. Pena made a good play on the ball and tried to flip to Dempster but he over-ran the ball. Constanza hurt his leg on the play (announced as a slight right ankle sprain in the eighth inning) and had to leave the game. Jurrjens tapped back to Dempster to end the inning.

Tyler Colvin and Koyie Hill went quickly to start the bottom of the sixth. Tony Campana hit for Dempster and reached on a bunt single to Jurrjens. Campana stole second and Darwin Barney worked a two-out walk. Blake DeWitt grounded out to second to end the inning.

The Cubs left 11 on base in the first six innings (2-for-8 with RISP) and trailed 3-0 after six complete.

James Russell took over in the seventh and sat the Braves down in order on 10 pitches (eight for strikes).

Carlos Pena bunted for a single toward third with one out in the seventh … and chased Jair Jurrjens from the game. Arodys Vizcaino retired Marlon Byrd on a foul out to Freeman (first pitch) and struck out Soriano swinging to end the inning.

The Braves did nothing against Jeff Samardzija in the eighth.

Mike Quade emptied his bench in the eighth against lefty Eric O’Flaherty.

Reed Johnson hit for Tyler Colvin to start the eighth. Johnson blooped a 0-2 pitch down the right field line and reached second with a double. Geovany Soto hit for Koyie Hill and grounded out to short on the first pitch. Jeff Baker hit for Samardzija and tapped back to the mound … and Darwin Barney looked at strike three to end the inning.

Kerry Wood struck out the side in the top of the ninth.

Jonny Venters took the hill to start the bottom of the ninth for the Braves. Blake DeWitt stayed in and worked a walk to start the inning. Ramirez walked to put two on with no outs for Carlos Pena. Pena struck out swinging on four pitches for the first out.

Marlon Byrd struck out. Alfonso Soriano hit a Venters’ first pitch back up the middle. Gonzalez fielded the ball and touched second with his glove to end the game.

The Cubs had Braves’ pitching on the ropes all night … and another runner was just left in scoring position.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Casey Coleman will face Mike Minor in game two on Tuesday night.

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne