Game Two – Cubs 4, Nationals 7
WP – Ryan Mattheus (1-0) LP – Kerry Wood (0-1) Save – Henry Rodriquez (1)
What started out as a good game for the Chicago Cubs turned ugly again in the eighth inning. The Cubs took a 4-2 lead into the eighth after a solid start by Matt Garza and a two-out, two run triple by Reed Johnson and a RBI single by Joe Mather in the fourth.
Kerry Wood retired the first two hitters he faced quickly … and then it all fell apart.
Danny Espinosa went with a 3-2 pitch and lifted it into the bleachers in left. Ryan Zimmerman followed with a broken bat single to right on Wood’s first pitch and Adam LaRoche pulled a 2-0 pitch into right that put the tying run on third with two outs.
Dale Sveum went to his pen and brought in Carlos Marmol with two out, two on and the Cubs up 4-3 … and Marmol could not record an out. Marmol walked Jayson Werth on five pitches to load the bases. Chad Tracy was summoned from the bench and stuck it to the Cubs again. Tracy singled to right on a 2-2 pitch and plated Zimmerman and LaRoche with the tying and go ahead run. Marmol gave up a double to Roger Bernadina that plated another run and issued a walk to Wilson Ramos that reloaded the bases.
Dale Sveum went back to his pen and brought in Shawn Camp but Steve Lombardozzi reached on an infield single and drove in the Nationals’ fifth run of the inning. Camp retired Desmond on a fly out right for the third out.
The Nationals scored five runs on six hits with two walks in the eighth against Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol after two were out and nobody on base.
Kerry Wood took the loss after being charged with three runs on three hits in 2/3 of an inning and Carlos Marmol gave up two runs on two hits with two walks and no strikeouts without recording an out.
Saturday began on a positive note for Sveum and his team. The Cubs knocked Gio Gonzalez out of the game with two outs in the fourth inning. The Cubs ran, ran and ran and made Gonzalez uncomfortable on the mound. The Cubs first run actually scored on a wild pitch that got past Wilson Ramos as Castro took off for second base.
Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a 2-for-4 effort that included two stolen bases. Castro has reached base safely in the last 42 games he’s played in … and has tied the third longest such streak in Cubs’ history. Gabby Hartnett reached base safely in 42 straight in 1937.
Reed Johnson (1-for-4 with a triple and two RBI) delivered in the fourth with a two-out, two run triple and Joe Mather (1-for-3 with a RBI and a walk) drove in Johnson with the Cubs’ fourth run. All four Cubs’ runs scored with two out on Saturday afternoon.
The Cubs offense had chances later in the game but could not come up with the big hit necessary to tack onto their lead.
Matt Garza’s effort will be lost in another bullpen meltdown. Garza allowed two runs on five hits (two-run homer by Adam LaRoche) with a walk and five strikeouts in six innings. Garza threw 91 pitches, 58 for strikes. Garza faced the minimum the first time through the lineup on 30 pitches, 22 strikes, and allowed just an infield single.
Rafael Dolis made his season debut and retired the Nationals in order in the seventh.
The Cubs have to figure out their bullpen issues and soon … they have already wasted two solid performances by Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. Matt Garza came out throwing strikes and faced the minimum on 12 pitches, nine for strikes, in the first inning. The Nationals did not hit a ball out of the infield.
Ian Desmond tapped back to a stumbling Garza on a 2-2 pitch to begin the game. Danny Espinosa hit a grounder to the hole at short that was ticketed for left field. Starlin Castro made an excellent diving stop, got to his feet quickly and threw a strike to Jeff Baker at first … the throw was just an eyelash late and Espinosa reached on an infield single.
Ryan Zimmerman grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the first … Castro and Barney made the double play look easy.
The Cubs ran, ran and ran … and also showed a lot of patience against Gio Gonzalez in the first.
After Reed Johnson was caught looking at a 1-2 pitch to begin the inning, Joe Mather put together a good at bat that resulted in a walk. Mather took off for second on a 2-1 pitch to Castro. Starlin Castro blooped a single into right center. Mather ended up at third on the hit and run. Alfonso Soriano popped out to left for the second out.
The Cubs’ shortstop took off for second on the first pitch to Jeff Baker. Castro swiped second as the ball got past Wilson Ramos and Mather scampered home from third with the Cubs’ first run on the wild pitch. On a 1-1 pitch to Baker, Castro got a running lead off second and stole third … first time in Castro’s career he stole two bases in the same inning. Baker worked a walk and Gio Gonzalez was obviously frustrated on the mound. Geovany Soto grounded out to Adam LaRoche on the first pitch to end the inning.
Matt Garza retired the Nationals in order on eight pitches, six for strikes, in the second. Garza threw 20 pitches, 15 for strikes, in the first two innings.
Other than a one out single by Darwin Barney, the Cubs did nothing against Gio Gonzalez in the second. Matt Garza could not get a bunt down after Barney’s single and Reed Johnson struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Nationals did nothing against Matt Garza in the third … Marlon Byrd made an excellent running catch to take away a hit from Gio Gonzalez for the third out. Garza faced the minimum through three on 30 pitches, 22 for strikes.
Joe Mather (ground out to short) and Starlin Castro (fly out to shallow right) went down quickly to start the bottom of the third. Alfonso Soriano reached out and ripped the first pitch he saw into center but Jeff Baker struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) to end the inning.
Matt Garza issued his first walk of the day to Ian Desmond (3-2 pitch) to start the fourth. Garza just missed on the 3-2 offering, it appeared to be a strike. Garza re-focused and struck out Espinosa swinging (2-2 pitch) and retired Zimmerman on a fly out to right (2-1 pitch).
Adam LaRoche stepped in and gave the Nationals a 2-1 lead with his first homer of the season. LaRoche lifted a 2-2 pitch down the line in right. The ball hit the foul pole for a home run. Garza retired Werth on a grounder to second (2-2 pitch) for the third out.
After throwing 30 pitches in the first three innings, Garza threw27 pitches in the fourth, 15 for strikes, and after four his pitch count stood at 57, 37 for strikes.
Matt Garza was visibly upset in the dugout following the fourth and appeared to be yelling at the home plate umpire.
Geovany Soto led off the fourth with a single to left center and the impatient Marlon Byrd worked a walk after being behind in the count 1-2. With runners on first and second with no outs, Darwin Barney struck out swinging on three pitches. Garza then failed to get a bunt down for the second time in as many at bats. Garza fouled a 1-2 pitch for the second out.
Reed Johnson stepped to the plate and looked at two out of the zone before punching the next pitch into the right field corner. Soto and Byrd scored and the Cubs took a 3-2 lead. Joe Mather followed with a single to left that fell just in front of Mark DeRosa. Mather’s first hit as a Cub drove in Johnson with the Cubs’ fourth run.
Starlin Castro singled to left on a 2-0 pitch and knocked Gio Gonzalez out of the game in his Nationals’ debut. Craig Stammen took over and retired Soriano on a grounder to third to end the inning.
Mark DeRosa struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) to start the fifth. Garza dodged a bullet back up the box off the bat of Roger Bernadina. Garza then missed on his first two pitches to Wilson Ramos. After a visit from Soto, Garza threw two straight strikes. Ramos ended up driving a 3-2 pitch into center for a single.
Davey Johnson left his reliever in to hit and Craig Stammen popped a 1-0 pitch up toward the mound. Garza stumbled as he tried to catch the popped up bunt. He recovered and got the out at first. With two down and runners on second and third, Ian Desmond lined a 1-1 pitch into left. Soriano made an ugly, but effective, leaping catch to retire Desmond for the third out.
The Cubs did nothing against Craig Stammen in the bottom of the fifth (three groundball outs).
Other than a two-out single off the bat of Adam LaRoche, Garza threw the ball well in the sixth. Garza struck out Zimmerman looking on a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Marlon Byrd tried to make a diving catch on the sinking liner off LaRoche’s bat in left center but came up short. Byrd kept the ball in front of him. Jayson Werth was called out when he tried to check his swing on a 0-2 pitch.
Darwin Barney led off the sixth with a single to center. Dale Sveum went to his bench and sent up Bryan LaHair to hit for Garza. LaHair popped up the first pitch to Zimmerman in foul ground for the first out.
Stammen plunked Reed Johnson on a 2-2 pitch to put runners on first and second with one out. Darwin Barney made a good read on a 1-1 pitch to Joe Mather. Barney broke for third when the ball hit the dirt. Barney slid in safe and Johnson advanced to second on the play.
With the infield in, Joe Mather swung at and missed a 2-2 pitch … and Castro grounded out to third to end the inning.
After six, the Cubs had a 4-2 lead.
Rafael Dolis sat down the Nationals in order in the seventh … two groundball outs and a fly out to left center on eight pitches, six for strikes.
The Cubs did nothing against Ryan Mattheus in the seventh.
Kerry Wood took over in the eighth … just the second time, counting Spring Training that Wood appeared in back-to-back games.
Wood retired Steve Lombardozzi on a grounder to short to begin the inning … then struck out Ian Desmond swinging. Wood looked good against the first two hitters …
Danny Espinosa put together an excellent at bat that resulted in an opposite field homer on the tenth pitch of the at bat (3-2) pitch. Wood simply could not put him away.
With the Cubs up 4-3, Ryan Zimmerman shattered his bat and blooped a single into right. Wood fell behind Adam LaRoche as Carlos Marmol started warming in the pen. LaRoche ripped the third pitch of the at bat into right. Zimmerman went to third with two down … and Sveum went to his pen.
Carlos Marmol missed badly on his first two offerings to Jayson Werth. Marmol’s third pitch was a strike but he issued a five-pitch walk to Werth to load the bases.
Chad Tracy did it again. Tracy hit for Ryan Mattheus and got just enough of a 2-2 pitch from Marmol to hit it past a diving Darwin Barney and into right field. Zimmerman and LaRoche scored … and just like that the Nationals took a 5-4 lead.
Marmol fell behind Roger Bernadina 2-1 before the Nationals’ centerfielder ripped a 3-1 pitch down the right field line. Werth scored and Tracy held at third with two down. Marmol then walked Wilson Ramos to load the bases.
Dale Sveum made the slow walk again and brought in Shawn Camp to face Steve Lombardozzi, the tenth batter to hit in the eighth.
Lombardozzi hit a weak grounder to short, Castro charged and made a strong throw to first but was a split second late. Lombardozzi reached on an infield single and Brett Carroll, who ran for Chad Tracy scored … 7-4 Nationals.
The ugly eighth came to an end when Ian Desmond flied out to right … the eleventh batter to hit in the top of the eighth.
After the demoralizing top of the eighth, Marlon Byrd (pop out to third, 1-2 pitch) and Darwin Barney (ground out to third, 0-2 pitch) went down quickly against Tyler Clippard. David DeJesus, who came in as a defensive replacement in the top of the inning, fell behind 1-2 in his first at bat of the game. DeJesus earned a walk and Reed Johnson stepped in with two down. Johnson put together a long at bat that ended with Johnson swinging and missing at a 3-2 offering (11th pitch of the at bat).
Shawn Camp stayed in and pitched the ninth. Camp allowed a two-out single to Adam LaRoche, but that was it … and the Cubs went to the bottom of the ninth trailing 7-4.
Henry Rodriguez started the ninth by walking Ian Stewart. Starlin Castro struck out swinging for the first out. On the first pitch to Blake DeWitt, Stewart took second but was stranded when DeWitt and Jeff Baker struck out to end the game.
Jeff Samardzija faces Jordan Zimmermann in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.
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