The Bafflin’ Brian Burres … and Those Battlin’ Bucs – Cubs 1 Pirates 3

Game One Hundred Thirty-Eight – Cubs 1 Pirates 3
WP – Brian Burres (1-0) LP – Ryan Dempster (10-11) Save – Joel Hanrahan (33)

Two of Brian Burres’ best starts at the big league level have come at the expense of the Chicago Cubs. The first was on May 6, 2010 and the second came on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Brian Burres has 18 big league wins (102 games, 55 starts) and two of those victories have come versus the Cubs.

Brian Burres mystified the Quade’s offense. Burres allowed one run on five hits in 5 1/3 innings with a walk and five strikeouts in his first Major League start of the year.

The Cubs only run came via a long homer off the bat of Carlos Pena (1-for-3 with a home run and a walk) in the second inning. Pena took over the team lead in home runs with his 25th on Friday. Pena has hit at least 25 dingers in each of the last five seasons.

Starlin Castro (1-for-4), Aramis Ramirez (1-for-4), Geovany Soto (1-for-3) and Ryan Dempster (1-for-2) were the rest of the Cubs offense. Reed Johnson (0-for-4 with two left on base) and Darwin Barney (0-for-3 with two left on base) had a rough afternoon at the dish. The Cubs continued their struggles with runners in scoring position and finished the afternoon 0-for-5 with RISP, five more runners left on base.

Ryan Dempster labored through his 6 1/3 inning start. For as much as Dempster struggled early on and ran up his pitch count (80 in four innings), Dempster was able to keep his team in the game. As has been the case for a majority of the year, Dempster was allowed to start an inning after he was basically done … and it cost the Cubs a third run. Dempster threw a season-high 121 pitches (82 for strikes) and allowed three runs on seven hits with a walk, a HBP and nine strikeouts.

Kerry Wood (inherited run allowed) and Sean Marshall finished the seventh without allowing any more damage. Jeff Samardzija and James Russell combined on two scoreless frames to close out the game.

The Cubs defense struck again on Friday and added two more charged miscues to their league-worst error total (116).

With Friday’s loss, it’s back to 20 games below .500 for Q’s squad … 59-79 on the season.

Ryan Dempster started running up his pitch count in the first inning. Dempster’s opening inning struggles continued … and his defense did not help. Dempster retired Alex Presley (3-for-4 with two triples, a walk and two runs scored) to start the game. Josh Harrison followed with an infield double … an infield double.

Harrison hit a grounder to the hole at short. Castro got to the ball and made a strong throw but it was late. Barney had gone over to back up the play and no one was covering second. The Cubs’ former farmhand took off for second … and made it easily. Dempster struck out Neil Walker but hit Andrew McCutchen in the hand on a 2-2 pitch.

McCutchen stayed in the game but left when the Pirates took the field with a bruised hand. Garrett Jones struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Brian Burres in the first inning.

Starlin Castro committed his 25th error of the year to begin the second. Castro let one roll right under legs and allowed Xavier Paul to reach to start the inning. Ronny Cedeno struck out swinging for the first out. With Michael McKenry at the plate, Paul stole third … Dempster struck out McKenry on the 11th pitch of the bat. Burres struck out to end the inning.

Carlos Pena led off the bottom of the second with a big fly just to the right of center (2-2 pitch). Pena gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead with his 25th longball of the year. Soriano grounded out to second, Byrd struck out and Soto struck out to end the inning.

The Cubs one-run lead was short lived. Alex Presley led off the third with a triple off the wall in right and scored on a single to center off the bat of Josh Harrison. Neil Walker hit a grounder out to short, Harrison was forced at second but Walker reached first. Jose Tabata, who replaced Andrew McCutchen, grounded out to Barney. Walker advanced to second and scored on a ground rule double by Garrett Jones. Jones ripped a 1-1 pitch that stuck in the ivy in right. Dempster retired Paul on a fly out to left.

The Pirates squared up Dempster pretty good the second time through. Dempster gave up two runs in the third on a triple, a single and a double. Dempster ran up his pitch count in the first three innings (67 pitches, 45 for strikes) and it appeared it would be another short outing for Ryan Dempster.

The Cubs had a chance to tie the game in the home half of the third. Ryan Dempster singled to center with one out. Starlin Castro singled to left off Harrison’s glove … but Reed Johnson struck out swinging and Aramis Ramirez flied out to center.

Dempster retired the Pirates in order in the fourth … and the Cubs wasted another opportunity in the bottom of the fourth.

Carlos Pena walked on the 12th pitch of the at bat to start the inning. Soriano flied out to left and Byrd struck out. Geovany Soto singled to left … but Barney struck out swinging to end the inning.

Ryan Dempster worked around an infield single off the bat of Alex Presley to start the fifth. Dempster struck out Harrison and Walker then retired Tabata on a fly out to right to end the inning … 95 pitches for Dempster after five innings, 66 for strikes.

The Cubs went down in order quickly in the fifth … and at the end of five it was 2-1 Pirates.

Dempster issued a one-out walk to Xavier Paul in the sixth. Paul took off for second on a hit and run as Ronny Cedeno hit a grounder to third. Paul rounded second as he thought Ramirez was going to throw to first. Ramirez pump faked then tossed to Castro covering third to nail Paul. Cedeno reached on what was credited an infield single … but McKenry struck out swinging to end the inning. Dempster’s day appeared to be done after throwing 113 pitches (76 strikes) in six innings.

Aramis Ramirez led off the sixth with a single to left. Neil Walker robbed Carlos Pena of a hit with a diving stop in the hole at second. Ramirez advanced to second and Clint Hurdle went to his pen for Jason Grilli.

Grilli retired Soriano (tap back to the mound) and Byrd (fly out to shallow center on the ninth pitch of the at bat) to end the inning … the Cubs would not manage another hit or baserunner.

Mike Quade allowed Dempster to start the seventh and admitted after the game he was trying to push him through three more guys. Ryan Dempster struck out Chase d’Arnaud to start the seventh.

Alex Presley hit his second triple of the game into the right field corner. Quade went to his pen and brought in Kerry Wood to face Josh Harrison.

Harrison popped out to Barney in shallow right. Wood then issued a two-out free pass to Neil Walker. Jose Tabata went with Wood’s first pitch and drove the ball into right. Presley scored easily … 3-1 Pirates. Quade went back to his pen and brought in Sean Marshall, along with Tyler Colvin (for Byrd).

With runners on first and second with two down, Garrett Jones hit a grounder to first. Pena fielded the ball but dropped it. The Cubs second error of the game loaded the bases for Xavier Paul. Marshall struck out Paul swinging to end the inning.

Chris Leroux retired the Cubs in order in the bottom of the seventh … and Jeff Samardzija sat down the Pirates 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth.

The Cubs did nothing against Jose Veras in the eighth.

Samardzija started the ninth and issued a leadoff walk to Alex Presley. Harrison sacrificed him to second. Samardzija issued his second free pass to Neil Walker. Jose Tabata flied out to right to end Samardzija’s day. Quade went to his pen and brought in James Russell to face Garrett Jones. Clint Hurdle countered with Ryan Doumit … Russell retired Doumit on a ground out to second to end the inning.

Joel Hanrahan retired the Cubs in order on 12 pitches (eight for strikes) to end the game.

Another loss to the Bucs …

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Casey Coleman is slated to face Ross Ohlendorf in game two on Saturday.

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon