Game Sixty-Five – Cubs 3, Red Sox 4
WP – Jon Lester (4-4) LP – Jeff Samardzija (5-5) Save – Alfredo Aceves (16)
Another day and another one-run loss for the Chicago Cubs … 24 of the Cubs 65 games have been decided by a single tally and the Cubs are 7-17 (1-13 in last 14) in those games. The Cubs had the tying run on base in the bottom of the ninth after Steve Clevenger led off the inning with a pinch-hit single. Bryan LaHair hit for Manny Corpas and struck out swinging on the eighth pitch of the at bat. Welington Castillo (1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) grounded into an around the horn double play to end the game.
While Jeff Samardzija had another rough outing, the Cubs offense was non-existent until the seventh inning. The entire team walked to the plate swinging against Jon Lester for six innings, the Cubs ended up striking out 11 times on Saturday night. Lester threw only 58 pitches (42 strikes) through five innings, 74 (51 strikes) through six and not a single baserunner advanced past first base until the sixth inning.
Jeff Baker (2-for-3 with a double) led off the seventh with a double and Welington Castillo put together an excellent nine-pitch at bat that ended with the Cubs first (and only) walk of the game. Luis Valbuena (1-for-3 with a home run and three RBI) made it a one-run game with his first homer in a Cubs’ uniform. Valbuena launched a 1-0 pitch from Lester deep into the bleachers in left center and cut the Sox lead to 4-3 … but Valbuena’s first big league homer since August 23, 2010 would end up being the only runs of the night for the Cubs.
The Cubs managed eight hits, one walk Saturday night … and were only 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left four on base.
Jeff Samardzija labored through 5 1/3 innings and took the loss after allowing three runs on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts on 108 pitches, 67 for strikes. Samardzija struggled with his command and pitched from behind too much of the night. After serving up a two-run shot to Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the fourth, Samardzija struck out the next five batters he faced. Samardzija ran out of gas in the sixth and walked the last two batters he faced to end his night.
Randy Wells (one run on three hits with a walk and a strikeout in 1 2/3 innings, 29 pitches, 15 strikes) could not keep the Red Sox off the board. Wells allowed an inherited run to score in the sixth then gave up a RBI single to Scott Podsednik in the seventh that gave Boston a 4-0 lead. Podsednik’s RBI single ended up being the difference in the game.
Manny Corpas tossed two innings of scoreless ball and gave his team a chance. Corpas allowed a hit, a walk, hit a batter and struck out a batter.
The Cubs dropped to 3-14 in games started by southpaws this season and are 22-43 on the year … Jeff Samardzija struggled in the first inning with his command after retiring Scott Podsednik (foul out to third, 2-2 pitch) and Dustin Pedroia (ground out to short, 3-2 pitch) to start the inning. Samardzija walked David Ortiz then fell behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia 2-0. Saltalamacchia launched Samardzija’s next pitch into right center. The ball hit off the top of the ivy. Reed Johnson threw to Starlin Castro who made a perfect relay to Welington Castillo to cut down Ortiz at the plate to end the inning.
Samardzija escaped a jam in the first after throwing 22 pitches, 11 for strikes.
Reed Johnson led off the Cubs’ first with a single to right center. Darwin Barney hit a grounder to Middlebrooks at third that should have been an around the horn double play. Middlebrooks had problems getting the ball out of his glove and had to settle for one. With Reed Johnson at second, Starlin Castro squared up a 1-0 pitch and ripped it back up the middle. Dustin Pedroia dove toward the middle and snared the liner … then touched second to double off Johnson to end the inning.
Lester faced the minimum on just seven pitches, four strikes.
Samardzija set down the Red Sox in order in the second (38, 22 strikes).
After Soriano grounded out to short to start the second inning, Jeff Baker reached on an infield single off Jon Lester’s glove. Middlebrooks picked up the ball but he did not have a play. Joe Mather struck out swinging and Welington Castillo lined out to short to end the inning. Lester threw only 19 pitches, 13 strikes, in the first two innings.
Jeff Samardzija continued having problems putting hitters away in the third. Mike Aviles grounded out to second (1-1 pitch) and Lester tapped back to the mound for the first two outs. Samardzija jumped ahead of Podsednik 0-2 before the former Brewer and Southsider worked the count back to full. Podsednik lined a single to center on Samardzija’s next pitch. Dustin Pedroia put together another long at bat than ran up Samardzija’s pitch count. Pedroia grounded out to second to end the inning on Samardzija’s 58th pitch (36 strikes) of the game.
The Cubs did nothing in the third … 29 pitches for Lester after three, 20 strikes.
Jeff Samardzija struggled to start the fourth … and it cost him. David Ortiz turned on a 96 MPH fastball (1-0 pitch) and drove it into the right field corner for a double. Samardzija then left a splitter out over the plate on a 1-2 pitch to Jarrod Saltalamacchia that he deposited into the right field bleachers … and just like that the Red Sox were up 2-0. To Samardzija’s credit he settled down and struck out Will Middlebrooks (2-2 pitch), Adrian Gonzalez (1-2 pitch) and Ryan Sweeney (1-2 pitch) to end the inning … 79 pitches for Samardzija, 50 for strikes, after four innings.
Jon Lester faced the minimum in the fourth on eight pitches, seven strikes. Darwin Barney looked at strike three, Starlin Castro reached on a throwing error by Middlebrooks but he tried to steal second and Saltalamacchia threw him out. Alfonso Soriano grounded out to third (0-1 pitch) to end the inning.
After four, the Cubs trailed 2-0.
Jeff Samardzija retired the Sox in order in the fifth with two more strikeouts to start the inning … but he threw 95 pitches in the first five innings, 63 for strikes.
Lester struck out Baker and Mather swinging to start the fifth. Welington Castillo reached on a bloop single to right (1-2 pitch) then Valbuena completed the trifecta by swinging and missing at a 2-2 pitch to end the inning … 58 pitches for Lester after five, 42 strikes.
The Red Sox knocked Samardzija out of the game in the sixth … and put Saturday’s contest out of reach.
After Dustin Pedroia grounded out to second to start the inning, Samardzija issued back-to-back walks to Ortiz and Saltalamacchia to end his night. Dale Sveum replaced Samardzija with Randy Wells and brought in David DeJesus (RF), moved Johnson to center and took Joe Mather out of the game on a double-switch.
Randy Wells served up a 1-0 pitch to Will Middlebrooks that he deposited into center for a single. Ortiz scored the third run as Johnson threw to third. Valbuena caught the ball and tagged Saltalamacchia for the second out. Wells then issued a four-pitch walk to Adrian Gonzalez. With runners on first and second with two outs, Ryan Sweeney grounded out to short to end the inning.
David DeJesus struck out swinging to start the sixth (3-2 pitch) and Reed Johnson grounded out to second (1-0). With the bases empty and two down, Darwin Barney reached on an infield single to third. Starlin Castro then was credited with a single when Middlebrooks misplayed a smash into a hit. Barney stopped at second … the first runner the Cubs had in scoring position on the night.
Alfonso Soriano hit a liner toward third that Middlebrooks dropped and recovered in time to throw out Soriano to end the inning. Soriano did not run out of the box and heard it from the crowd.
The Red Sox tacked on in the seventh as Randy Wells continued to struggle. Mike Aviles ripped a 2-2 pitch into right for a double. Lester struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) for the first out. Scott Podsednik ripped a single into left center. Aviles scored … 4-0 Red Sox. Podsednik advanced to second when Johnson’s throw to the plate hit Aviles. Pedroia grounded out to short, Podsednik advanced to third but was stranded when David Ortiz flied out to center.
Jeff Baker led off the seventh with a bloop double to right. Tony Campana hit for Randy Wells and put together a good at bat. Campana ended up hitting a 2-2 pitch to second that advanced Baker to third with one out … first time the Cubs put a runner on third all night.
Welington Castillo stepped in and quickly fell behind Lester 0-2. Castillo fought off several (three) excellent two-strike offerings from Lester, worked the count full then looked at a 3-2 pitch. Castillo walked and put runners on first and third with one out.
Luis Valbuena cranked a 1-0 pitch to the opposite field … and it ended up in the bleachers in left center for a three-run shot. And just like that, the Cubs were right back in the game.
Lester caught DeJesus looking at a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Bobby Valentine made his way to the mound and that was all for Lester. Scott Atchison took over and retired Johnson on a grounder to short to end the inning.
At the end of seven, the Red Sox led 4-3.
Other than a two-out walk by Adrian Gonzalez, Boston did nothing against Manny Corpas in the eighth.
Vicente Padilla started the eighth for the Sox and Darwin Barney appeared to get robbed of a hit. Barney pulled a 2-2 pitch into left. Daniel Nava was ruled to have made a diving catch but replays showed Nava trapped the ball. Dale Sveum made his way out and asked for the umps to discuss the call. The decision was upheld for the first out. Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano struck out swinging to end the inning.
Manny Corpas started the ninth and gave up a single to Mike Aviles. Nick Punto hit for Padilla and struck out swinging. On the first pitch to Podsednik, Aviles took off for second and Castillo threw him out. Corpas plunked Podsednik on a 2-2 pitch but retired Pedroia on a pop out to second to end the inning.
The Cubs went to the bottom of the ninth trailing 4-3 …
Steve Clevenger pinch-hit for Jeff Baker and led off with a single to center on a 0-2 pitch from Alfredo Aceves. Bryan LaHair fell behind 0-2, worked the count back to 2-2 then struck out swinging on the eighth pitch of the at bat. Welington Castillo hit a 1-1 pitch to Middlebrooks … 5-4-3 double play, game over.
Paul Maholm is scheduled to face lefty Franklin Morales in the finale on Sunday night.
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