No Relief for the Cubs – Cubs 2, Phillies 9

Game Thirty-Seven – Cubs 2, Phillies 9
WP – Jose Contreras (1-0) LP – Shawn Camp (2-2) Save – None

Wednesday night’s game between the Cubs and Phillies was tied at two going into the eighth inning. Matt Garza labored through a 6 2/3 inning start but allowed only two runs and kept his team in the game. Alfonso Soriano (1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) drove in the Cubs’ two runs with his second home run in as many games, a two-run line drive homer to left center in the fourth and gave the Cubs a brief 2-1 lead.

Carlos Ruiz broke the 2-2 tie with his seventh longball of the year with one out in the eighth off Shawn Camp … then the Cubs’ pen imploded in the ninth. The Phillies scored six runs in the ninth and turned a close ballgame into a blowout.

After the Phillies loaded the bases with no outs against the recently recalled Scott Maine, Michael Bowden gave up a two-run single to Ty Wigginton then a pinch-hit grand slam to Hector Luna.

Matt Garza admitted after the game that he is not back to full strength from his bout with the flu. Garza allowed two runs on eight hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. If not for two inning ending double plays turned in by the Cubs’ defense, Garza’s final line might have looked a lot different. Garza could not put hitters away early, coupled with his yips, he ran up his pitch count and left in the seventh after throwing 107 pitches, 70 for strikes.

While the Cubs’ pen was horrible again, the offense was a no show on Wednesday night. There were only two highlights in nine innings … a two-run home run by Alfonso Soriano in the fourth and a 14-pitch at bat by Bryan LaHair that preceded Soriano’s second longball in as many games.

The Cubs managed just three hits and no walks Wednesday night. Phillies’ pitching retired the last 17 batters they faced. The Cubs did not manage a single baserunner after Soriano’s homer in the fourth.

Bryan LaHair (0-for-4 with a run scored) reached on an error by Juan Pierre and scored on Alfonso Soriano’s home run but his streak of reaching base safely ended at 32 games.

With Wednesday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 15-22 on the season …

Matt Garza came out throwing strikes and looked more like Matt Garza than in his last outing. Garza did not allow any runs but his fielding issues caused him to face one more batter than he should have in the opening frame.

Jimmy Rollins popped out to second (1-1 pitch) for the first out. Juan Pierre bunted right back to the mound. Garza fielded and threw a limp noodle to first. Pierre took advantage of the defensively challenged Garza and reached on the error. Pierre then took off for second on a 2-0 pitch to Shane Victorino. Soto’s throw sailed toward the first base side of second. Pierre slid in safe. Victorino ended up grounding out to second. Pierre advanced to third and was stranded when Hunter Pence grounded out to third (2-2 pitch) to end the inning. It took Matt Garza 17 pitches, 11 for strikes, to get three outs in the first.

David DeJesus led off the bottom of the first with a double to the right field corner. Tony Campana dropped down a bunt on a 1-1 pitch. Campana did not get the ball far enough from Ruiz, who threw him out at first. DeJesus advanced to third with one down.

Starlin Castro continued his struggles with runners on third and less than two out. Castro foul tipped a 0-2 offering from Kendrick into Ruiz’s glove for the second out. Bryan LaHair flied out to Pierre in deep left on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

Carlos Ruiz ripped Garza’s first pitch of the second inning into centerfield. Placido Polanco flied out to left center (2-2 pitch) for the first out. John Mayberry, Jr. tapped out in front of the plate. Soto threw Mayberry out at first as Ruiz advanced to second. Freddy Galvis pulled a 0-1 pitch into the right field corner. Ruiz scored and the Phillies took a 1-0 lead. Garza struck out Kendrick looking to end the inning … 34 pitches for Garza through two, 23 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing in the second.

Jimmy Rollins lined a 0-2 pitch into right to start the third inning. Juan Pierre bunted a 1-1 pitch up the first base line. Garza fielded and threw the ball into the ground. Pierre was given a single and the Phillies had runners on first and second with no outs. Shane Victorino helped out Garza by blooping his first pitch to Barney in shallow right. Garza fell behind Pence 2-0 and eventually walked him to load the bases (3-2 pitch).

With the bags juiced and one down, Carlos Ruiz bounced into a 6-3 twin killing to end the innings. Garza threw 52 pitches in the first three innings, 36 for strikes.

Darwin Barney led off the third with a single to right (3-1 pitch). Garza got the bunt down and advanced Barney to second. David DeJesus flied out to deep left, Barney tagged and advanced to third on Pierre’s arm. For the second time Wednesday night, the Cubs left a runner at third when Campana struck out swinging for the third out.

Matt Garza retired the Phillies in order in the fourth … 68 pitches for Garza after four, 46 for strikes.

Starlin Castro hit a routine grounder to third to begin the Cubs’ fourth. Bryan LaHair put together an impressive 14-pitch at bat that resulted in a routine fly to left. Juan Pierre simply missed the ball, it fell to the ground and LaHair ended up at second on the two-base error.

Once again a long at bat by Bryan LaHair paid dividends for one of his teammates. Alfonso Soriano lined a 2-2 pitch into the first row of the bleachers in left center. Soriano’s second homer in as many games gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.

Ian Stewart grounded out to short and Soto grounded out to third to end the inning.

After four, the Cubs led 2-1.

For the third time in five innings, the Phillies put the leadoff runner on against Matt Garza. Kyle Kendrick blooped a 1-0 pitch down the right field line. Jimmy Rollins fouled out to Castro near the Cubs’ bullpen for the first out. Juan Pierre made up for his blunder in the bottom of the fourth. Pierre slashed a 1-1 pitch down the third baseline for a double.

With runners on second and third with one out, Shane Victorino punched a 2-2 pitch toward second and past a diving Matt Garza. Darwin Barney fielded the ball and threw to first as Kendrick was scoring the tying run. Victorino was called safe … but replays clearly showed Victorino was out. The mistake cost Garza only two pitches because Pence hit a 1-0 pitch to Castro … and the Cubs turned their second inning ending double play (6-4-3). Garza threw 83 pitches in five innings, 55 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing in the fifth … and Garza retired the Phillies in order for the second time on the night in the sixth. After six, Garza’s pitch count stood at 97, 64 for strikes.

The Cubs went down in order quickly in the sixth.

Matt Garza started the seventh. Freddy Galvis tried to bunt and popped Garza’s first pitch to Geovany Soto in foul ground. ‘Little Babe Ruth‘ as Ron Santo used to call Mike Fontenot hit for Kendrick. In his second at bat in a Phillies uniform, Fontenot ripped a 3-2 pitch into right center for a single. Garza retired Rollins on a lineout to left for the second out.

Dale Sveum made his way to the mound and brought in James Russell to face Juan Pierre. Charlie Manuel went to his bench and sent up Ty Wigginton to hit for Pierre.

James Russell walked Wigginton on four pitches and Fontenot advanced to second with the go ahead run. Russell fell behind Victorino 2-0 before receiving a visit from Chris Bosio. Russell fooled Victorino on a 3-2 slider and struck him out to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Jose Contreras in the seventh … 1-2-3 on 13 pitches, nine for strikes.

Shawn Camp took the hill in the eighth and retired Pence on a fly to left (1-2 pitch). Carlos Ruiz did not miss the 1-1 pitch from Camp and put the Phillies up for good. Ruiz’s seventh homer of the season gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead. Camp struck out pinch-hitter Pete Orr and John Mayberry, Jr. to end the inning.

Despite a long, 10-pitch at bat from Darwin Barney to start the bottom of the eighth, Antonio Bastardo sat down the Cubs in order.

The recently recalled Scott Maine started the ninth and the game got out of hand. Maine pitched like he has so many times for the I-Cubs this season. Freddy Galvis doubled to left to start the inning. Maine then plunked Mike Fontenot and walked Jimmy Rollins on four pitches to load the bases with no outs.

Dale Sveum decided he’d seen enough and went to his pen for Michael Bowden.

Ty Wigginton went with a 0-1 pitch and drove a single into right. Galvis and Fontenot scored … 5-2 Phillies. With runners on first and second with no outs, Shane Victorino popped out to Castro in shallow left. The Phillies pulled off a double steal on the first pitch to Hunter Pence. The Phillies’ right fielder popped out to Barney for the second out. Bowden intentionally walked Carlos Ruiz to load the bases with two down.

Charlie Manuel went to his bench and sent up Hector Luna to hit for Antonio Bastardo. Luna launched a 0-1 pitch from Bowden into the second row of the bleachers in left for the first grand slam of his career … and the first slam for the Phillies since October 1, 2010 turned a close game into an embarrassment. Bowden struck out Mayberry swinging to end the inning … and the Cubs went to the bottom of the ninth trailing 9-2.

Raul Valdes pitched the ninth … and retired the Cubs in order. Bryan LaHair struck out swinging to end the game and his streak.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Chris Volstad is scheduled to face Roy Halladay in the series finale on Thursday night.

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Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth