Game Sixteen – Cubs 3, Reds 4
WP – Johnny Cueto (2-0) LP – Rodrigo Lopez (0-1) Save – Sean Marshall (3)
Sunday’s series finale between the Cubs and Reds had no rhythm at all and was a poorly played game by both teams. The Cubs and Reds were a combined 3-for-23 with runners in scoring position, left 25 runners on base, walked 13 batters, hit two batters and committed five errors.
The Reds took the lead in the sixth inning when they scored two runs without a hit. With the game tied at two, Rodrigo Lopez issued a leadoff walk to Ryan Hanigan. After back-to-back throwing errors by Geovany Soto on attempted sacrifice bunt attempts by Johnny Cueto and Zack Cozart loaded the bases, Drew Stubbs hit into a fielder’s choice that broke the tie. Scott Maine then hit a batter and walked another to force in the Reds’ second run of the inning.
The Cubs once again left a win on base. The offense managed just six hits but walked five times and Starlin Castro was hit by a pitch. Alfonso Soriano (0-for-4 with a strikeout and seven left on base) had another horrible day at the plate and failed to do his job twice Sunday with the bases loaded. The Cubs were a miserable 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 12 on base. Bryan LaHair (1-for-2 with a RBI and a walk) notched the Cubs only hit that plated a run.
Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with a triple, HBP and two runs scored) scored two of the Cubs’ three runs while extending his hitting streak to 10 games. Castro has reached base safely in 55 of the last 56 games he’s played.
Randy Wells struggled with his command in his first start of the season. Wells tied a career-high with five walks but none of them scored. Wells allowed two runs on six hits with five walks and two strikeouts in five innings.
Like the other two starters in the series, Randy Wells ran up his pitch count in the first inning and barely made it through five innings of work (Chris Volstad threw 41 pitches in the first inning on Friday; Paul Maholm tossed 25 pitches in the first on Saturday and it took Wells 31 pitches to get through the first on Sunday). Wells threw 93 pitches, 52 for strikes, and received a no decision after the Cubs tied the game in the bottom of the fifth.
Rodrigo Lopez and Scott Maine allowed the Reds to take the lead for good in the sixth. Maine did retire the Reds in order in the seventh. Shawn Camp surrendered only one hit and a walk while striking out three in his two innings of scoreless ball.
With Sunday’s loss (1-2 on Sundays), the Cubs dropped to 4-12 on the season … Randy Wells worked his way in and out of a jam in a laborious first inning. Wells got Zack Cozart to pop out to Soto (1-2 pitch) in between the plate and the mound. Wells then walked the free-swinging Drew Stubbs (3-1 pitch). The Cubs’ defense gave the Reds another double. Joey Votto popped a 0-1 pitch into left. With the wind howling in and the defensively challenged Alfonso Soriano, the ball fell to the ground as Soriano dove trying to make up for misreading the pop up.
With runners on second and third with one out, Wells walked Ryan Ludwick.
To Wells’ credit he refocused and put his early struggles and questionable calls from the homeplate ump behind him and struck out both Jay Bruce (3-2 pitch) and Scott Rolen (2-2 pitch) swinging to end the inning. Wells threw 31 pitches in the first, 17 for strikes.
David DeJesus struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) to start the bottom of the first. Tony Campana hit a 0-2 pitch down the third baseline. Instead of at least a double to left, Campana had to beat out a throw from Scott Rolen. Rolen made an excellent stop, threw from his backside and nearly nailed the speedy Campana.
Johnny Cueto was called for a balk before the second pitch to Starlin Castro. The Cubs’ shortstop ended up striking out and Bryan LaHair grounded out to Votto (first pitch) to end the inning.
Randy Wells worked around a one-out single by Ryan Hanigan (first pitch to center) in the second. Wells tried to drop a bunt attempt that Cueto popped up but Cueto was called out then Cozart flied out to left for the third out … 44 pitches for Wells after two, 27 for strikes.
Alfonso Soriano popped out to center (3-2 pitch) but Ian Stewart was able to end his 0-for-the-series with a single to center (first pitch). Geovany Soto predictably struck out swinging … and so did Blake DeWitt (1-2 pitch).
The Reds finally got to Wells in the third. Drew Stubbs led off the inning with a bloop single to center (0-2 pitch). Joey Votto ripped a 3-1 pitch into left center. Stubbs scored easily on Votto’s standing double. Ryan Ludwick flied out to left center (2-2 pitch) and Bruce grounded out to first for the second out. With Votto at third, Scott Rolen blooped a 2-0 pitch into shallow right. Votto limped home with the Reds second run. Harris grounded back to Wells to end the third (63 pitches, 38 for strikes).
The Cubs wasted a chance to get on the board in the bottom of the third.
Randy Wells flied out to right center on the tenth pitch of the at bat. With one down, David DeJesus singled to left and advanced to second on a sac bunt by Tony Campana. Cueto bobbled Campana’s bunt and he reached first on an E1.
Starlin Castro flied out to right (1-1 pitch) for the second out. Cueto obviously wanted nothing to do with Bryan LaHair and ended up walking him to load the bases. The struggling Alfonso Soriano grounded out to short (2-1 pitch) to end the inning.
The Reds had a chance to tack on in the fourth but they were not patient enough against Randy Wells to cash in.
Wells walked Ryan Hanigan to start the fourth. Cueto bunted him to second then Wells walked Cozart and put runners on first and second with one down. Drew Stubbs hit the first pitch to short. Castro threw to DeWitt at second and forced Cozart. Wells then walked Votto to load the bases with two outs.
Ryan Ludwick hit the first pitch to Castro … inning over. It took Wells 84 pitches, 47 for strikes, to get through four innings.
The Cubs did nothing in the bottom of the fourth.
For the fourth time in five innings, Randy Wells found himself in a jam in the fifth.
Jay Bruce ripped Wells’ first pitch into the right field corner. Scott Rolen followed and hit a 2-1 pitch to deep right. Bruce tagged and advanced to second with one out.
Dusty Baker called for a suicide squeeze but Willie Harris bunted the ball to close to Wells and Bruce was thrown out the plate. Harris reached first but Soto threw him out at second to end the inning … and Randy Wells’ afternoon.
Joe Mather hit for Wells to start the fifth and Cueto plunked him on the first pitch. After DeJesus popped out to left, Tony Campana hit a 2-2 pitch back to the mound. Cueto bobbled the ball (again) but threw to first just in time to nail Campana. Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an infield single to the hole at short. Mather advanced to third on the play.
Johnny Cueto threw to first to hold Castro close after a 1-2 pitch to LaHair. The ball went off Joey Votto’s glove into foul ground. Mather scored and Castro advanced to second on Votto’s error. Two pitches later, Bryan LaHair ripped a single into center and plated Castro with the tying run. Soriano broke his bat and lined out softly to Cueto to end the inning.
After five the game was tied at two.
Rodrigo Lopez took over in the sixth and proved once again he should not be on the Cubs’ big league roster. It would be better to have Randy Wells accept the long-man role when Ryan Dempster returns from the DL. Not only did Lopez not do his job he also cost his catcher an error … and his team runs.
Lopez walked Ryan Hanigan to start the sixth. Cueto then dropped a bunt up the first baseline. Lopez did not leave the mound. Soto picked up the ball halfway up the line, threw toward first and hit Cueto in the back. With runners on first and second with no outs, Baker tried to give the Cubs an out again. Cozart bunted up the third baseline but Soto’s throw pulled DeWitt off the bag … bases loaded, no outs on a walk and two errors.
Drew Stubbs grounded out to short and Hanigan scored the go ahead run … 3-2 Reds.
Dale Sveum decided he’d seen enough at that point and went to his pen. Scott Maine replaced Lopez and struck out Joey Votto swinging (1-2 pitch). With runners on first and third with two down, Maine hit Ludwick on a 2-1 pitch to load the bases.
Maine jumped ahead of Jay Bruce 1-2 but eventually walked him and forced in Cueto with the Reds’ fourth run. Rolen struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.
Other than Blake DeWitt reaching on an error by Willie Harris with two outs in the sixth, the Cubs did nothing against Cueto … at the end of six the Cubs trailed 4-2.
Scott Maine retired the Reds in order for the first time Sunday in the seventh.
The Cubs had another chance in the bottom of the seventh … but once again came away empty.
Tony Campana worked a one out walk and advanced to second when Johnny Cueto hit Castro in the left elbow on the first pitch. Castro hit the ground and was in obvious pain but stayed in the game. Dusty Baker went to his pen and brought in Logan Ondrusek to face Steve Clevenger.
Steve Clevenger hit for Maine and worked a walk to load the bases with one out. Alfonso Soriano predictably struck out swinging (tried to check swing on breaking ball well out of the strike zone). Baker went back to his pen for Aroldis Chapman … Ian Stewart looked at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.
Shawn Camp pitched the eighth and other than a two-out walk to Joey Votto, the Reds did nothing in the eighth. Two of the three outs Camp recorded were strikeouts.
The Cubs showed a lot of patience against Chapman in the bottom of the eighth but they were not able to chip away at the Reds’ two-run lead.
Geovany Soto lined out to left to start the inning. Darwin Barney hit for DeWitt and grounded out to short. Joe Mather worked a walk, the first free pass issued by Chapman this season. David DeJesus followed with a walk and Sveum went to his bench. Reed Johnson hit for Tony Campana and grounded out to short for the third out.
The Reds were not able to add to their lead in the ninth despite recording their first hit since the fifth. Wilson Valdez reached on an infield single to third with two down but that was it … and the Cubs went to the ninth trailing 4-2.
Starlin Castro led off the ninth with an impressive at bat. Castro went with the ninth pitch from Sean Marshall and drove the ball into the gap in right center. Castro ended up at third with a leadoff triple. Steve Clevenger looked at a 0-2 pitch for the first out. Jeff Baker hit for Shawn Camp and hit a weak grounder to short. Castro scored … 4-3 Reds but at that point it was a case of too little too late.
Ian Stewart looked at a 2-2 offering from Marshall … game and series over.
The Cubs had a chance despite walking eight batters, hitting another one and committing two errors that led to two runs … in a one-run loss.
The Cubs open a three-game series at the old ballyard Monday night against the Cardinals … Matt Garza versus Jaime Garcia in game one.
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