Game Six – Cubs 1, Brewers 2
WP – Yovani Gallardo (1-1) LP – Ryan Dempster (0-1) Save – John Axford (2)
Ryan Dempster did his job Wednesday afternoon and put his team in position to win a game. For the fifth time in six games, the Cubs jumped out to an early lead but could not hang on and post a victory.
Ryan Dempster took a 1-0 lead into the seventh inning after Starlin Castro (0-for-2 with a RBI, a sac fly, a walk and a stolen base) drove in the Cubs only run of the game with a sacrifice fly in the first inning. Dempster fell behind George Kottaras after surrendering a double to Mat Gamel to start the inning. The Brewers’ back-up catcher launched Dempster’s 2-1 offering over the wall in right and gave Milwaukee a 2-1 lead. Dempster pitched out of jams in the first and second inning but the 2-1 pitch to Kottaras (his 99th of the game) was Dempster’s only mistake on the afternoon. Dempster threw 106 pitches, 65 for strikes, in his second start of the season.
Ryan Dempster became the 12th pitcher to record 1000 strikeouts in a Cubs’ uniform Wednesday when he struck out George Kottaras swinging in the fifth inning.
The Cubs offense was the difference in the game. The Cubs had numerous chances to tie or take the lead in the last three innings but they could not come up with a hit with runners in scoring position.
Dale Sveum’s team was 0-for-7 with RISP and left eight on base Wednesday. On the afternoon the Cubs struck out 12 times, eight of those coming in the last three innings. The last six outs the Cubs made Wednesday were strikeouts … either swinging or looking.
The Cubs offense outhit the Brewers 6-5, but only two of those went for extra bases (doubles by David DeJesus and Steve Clevenger). Starlin Castro, Ian Stewart (2-for-4) and David DeJesus (1-for-3 with a double, a run scored and a walk) had a good day at the dish while Geovany Soto (0-for-4 with two strikeouts) and Marlon Byrd (0-for-3, 1-for-21 on season, 0-for-last-19) continued their rough starts to the year.
Other than Ryan Dempster (two runs, five hits with three walks, five strikeouts and a balk in 6 2/3 innings), the other bright spot Wednesday was Sveum’s pen. James Russell struck out the only batter he faced. Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol had their best outings of the season. Wood struck out the side in order in the eighth and Marmol (no runs, no hits, one walk and two strikeouts in one inning) notched his first two strikeouts.
With Wednesday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to 1-5, their worst start since going 0-14 to start the 1997 season … Ryan Dempster walked Norichika Aoki to start the game. Aoki was thorn in Dempster’s side Wednesday. Of the 106 pitches Dempster threw, 23 were to Aoki in his three at bats against Dempster. Nyjer Morgan gave the struggling Dempster a gift when he tried to bunt for a hit. Morgan bunted back to Dempster for the first out as Aoki advanced to second. Rickie Weeks hit a 2-1 pitch to the hole at short. Castro fielded the ball but bobbled it for his second charged error of the season.
Aramis Ramirez stepped in with runners on first and third with one out … and hit into a 5-4-3 double play.
David DeJesus led off the first with a double to right center (one-hopped the ivy). Darwin Barney tried to check his swing on a 2-1 pitch and tapped back to Gallardo on the third base side of the mound. DeJesus advanced to third as Gallardo threw out Barney at first. Starlin Castro ripped a 2-0 pitch into right. Morgan caught the ball, DeJesus tagged and scored … 1-0 Cubs. Soriano grounded out to third to end the inning.
After one, the Cubs led 1-0.
Dempster pitched his way in and out of trouble in the second.
Mat Gamel led off the second with a long single to right. DeJesus played the ball very well and held Gamel to a single. Alex Gonzalez popped out to first. George Kottaras ripped a 2-2 pitch into left for a single. With runners on first and second with one down, Ryan Dempster committed a balk after a 0-1 pitch to Carlos Gomez. Both runners advanced on the miscue.
Gomez hit a weak, sinking liner to Barney that was caught for the second out. Dempster struck out Gallardo swinging to end the inning. Dempster threw 35 pitches in the first two innings, 21 for strikes.
Bryan LaHair worked a one-out walk in the bottom of the second but Gallardo ended up facing the minimum after Soto grounded into a 4-3 inning ending double play.
The Brewers did nothing against Dempster in the third.
David DeJesus earned a two-out walk in the third … but that was it for the Cubs offense against Yovani Gallardo. After three, the Cubs were clinging to a 1-0 lead.
Ryan Dempster sat down the Brewers in order in the fourth … at the time, Dempster had retired eighth in a row.
After Castro (grounded out to short) and Soriano (grounded out to second) went down quickly to start the fourth, Ian Stewart singled to center (2-2 pitch). LaHair struck out swinging to end the inning.
Dempster sat Milwaukee down in order for the third inning in a row in the fifth … and Gallardo made quick work of the Cubs in the home half of the fifth (1-2-3).
Norichika Aoki led off the sixth with a single to right, just the third hit surrendered by Dempster. Nyjer Morgan hit a 2-0 liner toward first that LaHair snagged and stepped on the bag just ahead of Aoki for the unassisted double play. Dempster walked Weeks but struck out Aramis Ramirez looking to end the inning.
Darwin Barney reached on a one out single to center in the sixth. Starlin Castro flied out to right. Barney tagged and advanced to second but Soriano struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) for the third out.
With the Cubs up 1-0, Ryan Dempster started the seventh and allowed the tying run to reach second. Mat Gamel pulled a 2-1 pitch into the right field corner for a leadoff double. Dempster struck out Alex Gonzalez for the first out.
Dempster fell behind George Kottaras 2-1. Instead of just walking the lefty, Dempster pitched to him. Kottaras launched Dempster’s next pitch into the bleachers in right … and just like that the Brewers took a 2-1 lead. Dempster walked Gomez with one down. Gallardo flied out to right and Sveum went to his pen for James Russell with two lefties due up.
James Russell replaced Dempster and struck out Norichika Aoki on a check swing (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.
The Cubs wasted an opportunity to at least tie the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Ian Stewart and Bryan LaHair reached on back-to-back bloop singles but Geovany Soto and Marlon Byrd struck out swinging (Soto tried to bunt but could not get the sacrifice down). Sveum went to his bench and sent up Blake DeWitt to hit for Russell … and DeWitt grounded out to third to end the inning.
Kerry Wood struck out the side in order the eighth.
After Francisco Rodriguez struck out DeJesus and Barney to start the eighth, Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano reached on back-to-back walks … but Stewart struck out swinging to end the inning.
Carlos Marmol struck out Gamel to start the ninth, the first strikeout of the season for Marmol. After Gonzalez fouled out to Stewart, Kottaras walked. Marmol struck out Gomez looking to end the inning.
The Cubs went to the ninth trailing 2-1.
Bryan LaHair and Geovany Soto struck out swinging for the first two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Steve Clevenger hit for Marlon Byrd and ripped a 3-2 pitch from John Axford into left. Joe Mather ran for Clevenger but Reed Johnson, hitting for Marmol, struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) for the final out of the game.
Matt Garza will face Zack Greinke in the series finale on Thursday afternoon.
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