Nothing Aoki for the Cubs Right Now – Cubs 3, Brewers 4

Game Fifty-Seven – Cubs 3, Brewers 4 – 10 innings
WP – John Axford (1-2) LP – Casey Coleman (0-1) Save – None

Three pitches into the bottom of the tenth Norichika Aoki hit his second home run of the day and just like that the Cubs lost another game and another series on the road (0-10-3). The 2012 version of the Chicago Cubs keep finding ways to lose games.

Matt Garza was very good again (two runs on four hits with a walk and six strikeouts in six innings) but the Cubs bad defense ran up his pitch count (98, 61 strikes) and he left after six trailing 2-0. Koyie Hill (1-for-4 with a double and a RBI) inched the Cubs closer with a RBI double in the seventh … but it was a two-out hit and a longball that took Garza off the hook and gave the Cubs their first lead of the day.

Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a run scored) reached on a two-out, two-strike single to left off Francisco Rodriguez in the eighth. Dale Sveum went to his bench and sent up Bryan LaHair to hit for Jeff Baker. Soriano broke for second on a 1-1 pitch from Rodriguez. Bryan LaHair deposited the pitch into the landing beyond the right centerfield wall and the Cubs took a 3-2 lead on LaHair’s pinch-hit, two run homer.

But Norichika Aoki, who had a huge day (3-for-5 with two home runs and three runs scored) reached on an infield single up the middle off James Russell to start the bottom of the eighth. Aoki came around to score the tying run on a ground rule double off the bat of Corey Hart. Hart cranked a 2-1 pitch from Manny Corpas that stayed in the park but bounced over the wall in center and tied the game.

Manny Corpas made the one big mistake in his two innings of work (no runs on one hit with a walk and a strikeout, one inherited runner scored) and was hung with the blown save. Casey Coleman took the loss before he had a chance to settle in.

The Cubs offense allowed Randy Wolf to have another excellent outing. The Cubs managed only one run on four hits off Wolf over 6 2/3 innings. The Cubs walked just two times and struck out six times against the veteran southpaw. The Cubs offense struck out eight more times on Thursday afternoon and in the three-game series (28 innings), the Cubs struck out 37 times.

Joe Mather (2-for-4) collected two of the Cubs’ seven hits and Matt Garza notched the first extra basehit of his career (a double in the third) but the Cubs were 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left seven on base in another one-run loss.

With Thursday’s defeat, the Cubs dropped to a season-worst 19 games under .500 … 19-38 on the year.

The Cubs did nothing in the first and Randy Wolf threw only 12 pitches.

Matt Garza sat down the Brewers in order in the first on 14 pitches, nine for strikes.

Alfonso Soriano hit a one-hop smash to Cody Ransom at third to start the Cubs’ second. Jeff Baker put together a long at bat that resulted in a swing and a miss on a 3-2 pitch. Joe Mather reached on a single to center but was stranded when Ian Stewart struck out swinging to end the inning.

Matt Garza struck out two of the three batters he faced in the second. It took Garza 25 pitches, 15 for strikes, to get through two innings.

After Koyie Hill flied out to left center, Matt Garza ripped a 1-2 pitch over Norichika Aoki’s head in right. Garza ended up at second with a standing double, the first extra basehit of his career. Reed Johnson reached on an infield single to third. Johnson dove into the first base bag head first to avoid the tag. Garza advanced to third with one down.

Darwin Barney popped out to shallow right and Starlin Castro bounced out to third to end the inning.

The Brewers did nothing against Garza in the third … 41 pitches for Garza after three, 26 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing in the fourth.

Norichika Aoki led off the Brewers’ fourth with his second home run of the season. Aoki pulled a 1-1 pitch from Garza over the wall in right. The Brewers’ first hit put the Cubs in a 1-0 hole. Garza struck out Nyjer Morgan swinging for the first out.

Ryan Braun hit a 2-2 pitch toward third. Ian Stewart fielded the ball but had trouble with the exchange and Braun reached on the error. Corey Hart flied out to right and George Kottaras flied out to left to end the inning. The error did not cost the Cubs on the scoreboard but it forced Garza to throw additional pitches.

The Cubs did nothing in the fifth.

Rickie Weeks reached on an error by Jeff Baker to start the fifth. Weeks hit a grounder to short. Starlin Castro fielded the ball and threw a little low. Baker simply did not catch the ball. Garza issued his first walk of the game to Cody Ransom. Edwin Maysonet dropped down a bunt and sacrificed both runners up ninety feet. To Garza’s credit he stayed focused. Randy Wolf lined out to a diving Darwin Barney and Aoki grounded out to third to end the inning. Garza’s pitch count stood at 75, 46 for strikes, after five innings.

Reed Johnson led of the Cubs’ fifth with a walk … the Cubs’ first free pass of the game. Rickie Weeks took a hit away from Darwin Barney with a sensational diving catch on a ball that was ticketed for centerfield. Weeks lost the handle on the ball as he tried to double off Johnson. Maysonet picked up the ball and fired to first but Johnson dove back in safely. Castro hit into a 5-4 fielder’s choice and Soriano struck out swinging on Wolf’s 96th pitch of the game.

The Brewers tacked on in the sixth. Garza struck out Nyjer Morgan to start the inning. Braun grounded out to short for the second out but Corey Hart doubled to left. The Cubs pitched to George Kottaras and it cost them. The Brewers’ catcher singled to right and plated Hart with their second run. Rickie Weeks grounded into a 5-4 force out to end the inning.

After six, the Cubs trailed 2-0.

Jeff Baker led off the seventh with a walk. Joe Mather then reached on a fielding error by Cody Ransom at third. With runners on first and second down by two, Ian Stewart did not bunt and hit a tapper back to the mound. Randy Wolf started the 1-6-3 double play. Baker ended up at third with two outs.

Koyie Hill recorded his first hit with a runner in scoring position since the 2010 season. Hill doubled to right. Baker scored the Cubs were down by only one run. Wolf then plunked pinch-hitter David DeJesus. Ron Roenicke went to his pen and brought in Jose Veras to face Reed Johnson. With runners on first and second with two down, Reed Johnson popped a 0-1 pitch into right to end the inning.

The Brewers did nothing against Shawn Camp in the seventh.

Francisco Rodriguez made his first appearance of the series in the eighth inning. Rodriguez made quick work of Barney (flied out to right) and Castro (grounded out to short) and jumped ahead of Soriano 1-2. Alfonso Soriano looked a ball two then singled to left.

Bryan LaHair was sent up to hit for Jeff Baker. LaHair pulled a 1-1 pitch from Rodriguez over the wall in right center … and the Cubs took a 3-2 lead. Joe Mather followed with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Ian Stewart struck out swinging to end the inning.

James Russell started the eighth and gave up an infield single to Norichika Aoki. Dale Sveum went to his pen and brought in Manny Corpas after Carlos Gomez was announced as the pinch-hitter for Morgan. Gomez bunted Aoki to second. Ryan Braun flied out to right center for the second out.

Corey Hart launched a 2-1 pitch to deep center. Aoki scored on Hart’s ground rule double and the game was tied at three. Aramis Ramirez hit for Rodriguez and was intentionally walked. Zack Greinke ran for Ramirez. Rickie Weeks’ struggles continued. Weeks struck out swinging to end the inning.

After eight, the game was tied at three.

John Axford took over in the ninth and made quick work of the Cubs.

Manny Corpas sat down the Brewers in order in the ninth …and the game went into extra innings.

For the first time this season, John Axford took the hill for a second inning of work. Axford retired the Cubs in order.

Casey Coleman made his way in from the pen to start the bottom of the tenth. Coleman missed with his first two offerings … and Norichika Aoki did not miss his third. Aoki lined Coleman’s third pitch over the wall in right. Game over.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs will make their first trip to Target Field for a three-game series against the Twins. Travis Wood is scheduled to face P.J. Walters in game one on Friday night.

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