Can’t Buy a Clutch Hit or a Win … Cubs Drop Tenth in a Row – Cubs 0, Pirates 1

Game Forty-Five – Cubs 0, Pirates 1
WP – A.J. Burnett (3-2) LP – Ryan Dempster (0-3) Save – Joel Hanrahan (11)

Ten hits, all singles, and not one run Friday night for the Chicago Cubs in Pittsburgh. The Cubs had plenty of chances to end their losing streak but could not deliver and have now lost 10 games in a row. The Cubs have scored in just four of the last 56 innings.

The Cubs outhit their opponent for the fourth game in a row (10-7) but not when it mattered most. The Cubs were a miserable 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base. The Cubs had runners on base all night long. Pirates’ pitching retired the Cubs in order only two times and in seven of the nine innings they put at least one runner in scoring position.

Starlin Castro (2-for-5 with two strikeouts, a stolen base, three left on base), Joe Mather (2-for-4 with three left on base), Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4 with two strikeouts and two left on base) and Darwin Barney (2-for-4 with a stolen base, two left on base) each had a multi-hit game and David DeJesus (1-for-4 with a walk) reached base in two of his five at bats … the problem is not getting the runners on, it is getting them in.

Ryan Dempster rebounded nicely from his previous two outings and did everything he could to get his team off the snide. Dempster made only one mistake Friday night … and it wasn’t a bad pitch. Dempster bobbled a comeback off the bat of Matt Hague in the second inning that should have been an inning ending double play. Instead, Pedro Alvarez advanced to second and scored on a single by the next batter, Rod Barajas.

Ryan Dempster allowed one run on seven hits with a walk and six strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. Dempster threw 106 pitches, 75 for strikes, and remains winless in his last 17 starts. The last time Ryan Dempster posted a victory was August 11 against the Nationals.

James Russell finished the eighth by recording two outs on three pitches.

The Cubs defense also struggled Friday night. Adrian Cardenas (0-for-3 with a walk) was charged with two errors and committed two other miscues subbing for Ian Stewart at third base. The Cubs failed to turn two double plays, and one was the difference in the game.

With Friday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 15 games under .500 with a 15-30 record …

David DeJesus put together a long, seven-pitch at bat against A.J. Burnett to start the game. DeJesus lined out to right on a 3-2 offering for the first out. Starlin Castro had one of his longer at bats of the season. Castro ended up reaching on an infield single (Walker dove behind the second base bag and kept in the infield) on the tenth pitch, also a 3-2 offering. DeJesus and Castro made Burnett throw 17 pitches.

Joe Mather followed Castro with a bloop single to right … but Bryan LaHair (2-2 pitch) and Alfonso Soriano (0-2 pitch) struck out swinging to end the first inning. A.J. Burnett threw 27 pitches in the first, 18 for strikes, and the Cubs were 0-for-2 with RISP and left two on base.

Ryan Dempster retired the Pirates in order in home half of the first … 1-2-3 on eight pitches, five for strikes.

Adrian Cardenas started the second by grounding out to Neil Walker. Darwin Barney broke a 0-for-10 skid with a single to center. Barney then took off for second on a 1-0 pitch to Koyie Hill. Barney advanced into scoring position with one down. Hill ended up grounding out to first on a 3-2 pitch. Barney advanced to third but was stranded when Ryan Dempster struck out swinging.

The Cubs were 0-for-4 with RISP after two at bats and left three on base. A.J. Burnett’s pitch count was rather high after two (42 pitches, 28 for strikes).

Pedro Alvarez lined Dempster’s first pitch of the second inning into right field. Neil Walker flied out to right and Matt Hague hit a comebacker to Dempster. Instead of an inning ending 1-6-3 double play, Dempster bobbled the ball and had to settle for getting the out at first base … and the extra out helped the worst scoring team in all of baseball.

Rod Barajas ripped a 1-1 pitch into right. DeJesus fielded the ball and made a strong throw to the plate but Alvarez slid around Hill and scored the game’s first run. Clint Barmes hit a grounder toward third that Adrian Cardenas made a good play on. Cardenas’ throw was low and LaHair could not scoop. Barmes reached on the Cubs’ first charged error and second miscue of the inning. Burnett flied out to center to end the inning. Dempster threw 24 pitches in first two innings, 17 for strikes.

After two, the Cubs trailed 1-0.

The Cubs wasted a chance to tie the game in the third. David DeJesus singled to right (2-1 pitch) to start the inning. Castro advanced him to second with a swinging bunt. Castro hit a 3-2 pitch out in front of the plate, did not run and Barajas tagged him out. Joe Mather struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) and LaHair grounded out to second (1-1 pitch) to end the inning … 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position with four left on base after three at bats.

Jose Tabata reached on Adrian Cardenas’ second error of the game to begin the third. Josh Harrison then hit a grounder toward third. Cardenas fielded the ball and threw to second to force Tabata but Barney’s throw to LaHair was late … the second missed double play for the Cubs in three innings. On a 2-1 pitch to McCutchen, Harrison took off for second and swiped his first base of the season. Dempster struck out McCutchen (swinging on a 3-2 pitch) and Alvarez (swinging on a 2-2 pitch) to end the inning. Dempster threw 42 pitches over three innings, 29 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing in the fourth. Burnett threw 73 pitches in four innings, 48 for strikes.

Ryan Dempster pitched around more mistakes by the Cubs’ defense in the bottom of the fourth. After Neil Walker fouled out to Cardenas, Hague beat the shift and hit a grounder toward right on a 1-0 pitch. Barney fielded the ball but threw it away. Hague was given a hit on Barney’s mistake. Rod Barajas flied out to Soriano in left for the second out … and Barmes flied out to right center (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.

After four, the Cubs trailed 1-0.

Koyie Hill (ground out to first) and Ryan Dempster (ground out to first) made two outs on three pitches to start the fifth. David DeJesus stepped in and quickly fell behind 1-2. DeJesus worked the count full and walked on the eighth pitch of the at bat. Starlin Castro then blooped a single into left. DeJesus ended up at third with two down.

Starlin Castro took off for second on Burnett’s first pitch to Mather. Castro got a huge jump and Barajas did not make a throw. With runners on second and third with two down, Joe Mather ripped a 1-2 pitch to the hole at short. Pedro Alvarez lunged to his left, made a fine stop and his throw just beat Mather to first to end the inning.

The Cubs were a miserable 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position after five at bats and had left six on base.

Ryan Dempster made quick work of A.J. Burnett and Jose Tabata to start the fifth. Josh Harrison reached on a two-out single to left. With McCutchen at the plate, Harrison stole his second bag of the night. Dempster ended up walking McCutchen … but Pedro Alvarez hit a 3-2 pitch in front of the plate. Koyie Hill picked up the ball and threw to first to end the inning. Dempster tossed 77 pitches over five innings, 51 for strikes.

After the slumping Bryan LaHair grounded out to second (3-2 pitch) to start the sixth, Alfonso Soriano hit a hanging curve from Burnett into center. A.J. Burnett then issued a four-pitch walk to Adrian Cardenas.

Clint Hurdle made the slow walk and went to his pen for Jared Hughes.

With runners on first and second with one out, Darwin Barney worked the count to 3-2 before hitting a grounder toward third. Soriano ran into Pedro Alvarez and was called for interference. Soriano was out by rule. Koyie Hill hit a routine grounder to second (2-0) pitch to end the inning.

The Cubs were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base in six innings.

Ryan Dempster struck out Neil Walker (2-2 pitch) to start the bottom of the sixth. Darwin Barney made a nice play on a slow roller hit past the mound to retire Matt Hague. Barney fielded the ball and threw with his glove to LaHair for the second out. Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes reached on two out singles. Casey McGehee hit for Jared Hughes and pulled Dempster’s first pitch to short. Castro threw across to end the inning.

After six, the Cubs tailed 1-0.

Jason Grilli struck out the Cubs in order in the seventh (with a little help from the home plate umpire).

Ryan Dempster retired the Pirates in order in the seventh. Dempster threw 99 pitches in seven innings, 69 for strikes.

Joe Mather led off the eighth with a single to right off Juan Cruz. After Bryan LaHair struck out swinging, Mather was picked off first base with Soriano at the dish. Soriano then blooped a single into center. Sveum went to his bench and sent in Tony Campana to run for Soriano.

Campana took off for second on the second offering to Adrian Cardenas. The Pirates guessed right and pitched out but Campana got his hand in ahead of the tag. With Campana running, Cardenas grounded out to second to end the inning.

The Cubs were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base in eight innings.

Ryan Dempster notched his sixth strikeout of the night to start the bottom of the eighth (Pedro Alvarez). Neil Walker followed with a double off the wall in right (0-2). Dale Sveum made the slow walk as soon as Garrett Jones was announced and went to his pen for James Russell.

James Russell got Jones to check his swing on the first pitch. Castro fielded the slow roller and threw to first for the out. Walker advanced to third with two down. Rod Barajas fouled to LaHair to end the inning.

The Cubs went to the ninth trailing 1-0.

Darwin Barney worked the count to 3-2 to start the ninth. Barney then ripped Joel Hanrahan’s next pitch into right. Koyie Hill squared but bunted the ball too hard … and right back to Joel Hanrahan. Barney was forced at second for the first out.

Reed Johnson hit for James Russell and poked a single into right. Hill rounded second and advanced to third with one out. The Cubs inability to execute a simple sacrifice bunt cost them a run. With the tying run on third and less than two outs, David DeJesus looked at a 1-2 pitch for the second out. Starlin Castro continued his struggles with runners on third base. Castro swung at a 1-2 pitch well off the plate to end the game.

Ten hits, no runs … ten straight losses.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Paul Maholm is scheduled to face Kevin Correia on Saturday night.

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