Verlander Bends … But Doesn’t Break – Cubs 3, Tigers 5

Game Sixty-Three – Cubs 3, Tigers 5
WP – Justin Verlander (6-4) LP – Travis Wood (0-3) Save – Jose Valverde (13)

The Justin Verlander no hitter alerts began several hours prior to first pitch. With Verlander on the hill against the weak-hitting Cubs lineup most thought Verlander would throw a no-no Thursday at Wrigley Field and in the process end the longest current streak in baseball between being no-hit. Sandy Koufax was the last pitcher to no-hit the Chicago Cubs. Koufax tossed a perfect game against Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo and company on September 9, 1965.

The Cubs not only recorded a hit but they put two runs on the board in the second inning. Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a run scored) and Bryan LaHair (1-for-4 with a run scored) reached on back-to-back singles to start the inning and both scored … Soriano on a one-out double by Darwin Barney (2-for-3 with a double and a RBI) and LaHair on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Luis Valbuena (0-for-3 with a RBI) in his Cubs’ debut.

The game remained 2-2 until the seventh inning when the Tigers finally took the lead for good.

Travis Wood (three runs on eight hits with two walks, two hit batsmen and three strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings) flirted with trouble all afternoon. The Tigers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead but after the Cubs tied the game, Wood did not allow another run until the seventh.

The Tigers put the leadoff runner on in each of Wood’s seven innings. Wood was unable to not work around a leadoff single by Ryan Rayburn in the seventh. Rayburn advanced to second on Verlander’s second sac bunt of the game and scored on a bloop single by Austin Jackson. Wood struggled with his command and pitched from behind in the count a majority of his outing but he was able to make a good pitch when he needed one to keep his team in the game.

Detroit put the game well out of reach in the ninth against Shawn Camp. After Tony Campana misplayed a ball into a one-out triple for pinch-hitter Don Kelly, Austin Jackson gave the Tigers a 5-2 lead with a two-run shot off Camp.

The Cubs added a run in the ninth against Jose Valverde. Tony Campana (1-for-4 with a double and a run scored) doubled to start the ninth. Starlin Castro (0-for-4) flied out to right, Campana advanced to third and scored when David DeJesus (0-for-4 with a RBI) grounded out to first base.

Justin Verlander was just too much for the Cubs offense. Verlander did not walk a batter (after walking seven times in Monday’s opener, the Cubs walked one time in the last two games) and struck out eight. At one point Verlander retired 16 of 17 and did not allow a baserunner after Darwin Barney’s double in the second until Barney’s leadoff single in the eighth.

Alfonso Soriano singled and scored a run Thursday but he went homerless in the three-game series against the Tigers and snapped his streak of nine consecutive series with a home run.

With Thursday’s loss (dropped 22 of 28), the Cubs are 2-7 in Interleague play and 21-42 on the season …

The Tigers jumped on Travis Wood in the first inning. Wood could not find the strike zone, fell behind Austin Jackson then served up a 3-1 pitch that ended up off the top of the wall and just under the basket in left center. Jackson ended up with a leadoff double. Wood retired Brennan Boesch on a liner to third and Miguel Cabrera grounded out to first. Jackson advanced on the play and trotted home on a double to left off the bat of Prince Fielder … and 10 minutes into the game, the Tigers led 1-0. Delmon Young hit Wood’s first pitch to Barney to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing in the bottom of the first.

Jhonny Peralta stayed hot and lined a 1-2 pitch into left for a leadoff single in the second. Ryan Rayburn ripped a 3-1 pitch into right center for a double. Peralta scored and the Tigers took a 2-0 lead. Gerald Laird lined out to second (2-2 pitch) for the first out.

With runners on first and second with one out, Justin Verlander hit a grounder toward short. Starlin Castro fielded the ball and threw to Valbuena to force Peralta at third. Wood then struck out Jackson looking to end the inning.

Alfonso Soriano and Bryan LaHair reached on back-to-back singles to start the second … and put an end to the no-hit talk. Verlander struck out Steve Clevenger looking for the first out.

Darwin Barney stepped in and just missed a three-run homer. Barney launched a 1-2 pitch to left. Soriano scored and LaHair held at third with one out. Luis Valbuena made his Cubs’ debut and grounded out to second … and LaHair scored the tying run from third. With Barney at third, Travis Wood lined out to short (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.

After two, the game was tied at two.

Travis Wood ended up facing the minimum in the third after he hit Brennan Boesch to start the inning. Cabrera grounded into a 5-4-3 double play on a 1-2 pitch and Fielder flied out to left (first pitch) to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing in the third.

Delmon Young led off the fourth with a single to left. Jhonny Peralta hit a 2-1 pitch back to the mound. Wood started the 1-4-3 double play … the Cubs’ second twin killing in as many innings. Rayburn struck out swinging to end the inning. Wood faced the minimum in the fourth.

Justin Verlander struck out the side in order (Soriano, LaHair and Clevenger) in the fourth.

Travis Wood could not throw a strike in the fifth. Wood issued a four-pitch walk to Gerald Laird then missed on the first pitch to Verlander. Verlander ended up bunting Laird to second with one out. Wood issued his second four-pitch walk of the inning to Austin Jackson. With runners on first and second with one down, Wood struck out Boesch and Cabrera flied out to right (first pitch) to end the inning.

Justin Verlander retired the Cubs in order in the fifth. After Barney and Valbuena made two quick routine outs, Travis Wood lined a single in left center. Jackson threw Wood out at second trying to stretch a single into a double to end the inning.

After five, the game was tied at two.

Wood plunked Fielder to start the sixth. Young lined out to short and Peralta grounded into the Tigers’ third double play of the game (5-4-3) to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing in the sixth … and after six, the game remained tied at two.

Ryan Rayburn reached on an infield single toward third to start the seventh. Laird hit a soft liner to Barney for the first out. Justin Verlander dropped down his second sac bunt of the game and put the go ahead run into scoring position.

Austin Jackson blooped a single into left, Rayburn scored and the Tigers took a 3-2 lead. Travis Wood then gave up a single to Boesch. With runners on first and second with two down and the Cubs trailing by a run, Dale Sveum made his way to the mound and brought in Randy Wells to face Cabrera.

Miguel Cabrera grounded out to second to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing in the seventh … and the game went to the eighth with the Cubs trailing 3-2.

Other than a one-out single by Delmon Young, the Tigers did nothing against James Russell in the eighth.

Darwin Barney led off the eighth with a single to right. Luis Valbuena was not asked to bunt and hit into a 6-3 double play. Reed Johnson hit for Russell and jumped ahead of Verlander 3-0. Verlander then blew a 3-2 pitch by Johnson to end the inning.

Shawn Camp retired Laird on a grounder to short to start the ninth. Don Kelly hit for Verlander and hit a ball into left center. Campana dove, came up empty and the ball rolled all the way to the ivy. Kelly ended up at third with a triple. Campana must learn in a one run game that he cannot risk that kind of mistake. As it turns out it would not matter … Austin Jackson crushed a 1-0 pitch from Camp. The ball ended up out of the yard and the Tigers took a commanding 5-2 lead. Camp retired Boesch (popped out to third) and Cabrera (lined out to short) to end the inning.

The Cubs went to the ninth down 5-2.

Jose Valverde made his way to the mound in the ninth. Tony Campana lined a 1-1 pitch into left for a double. Starlin Castro flied out to right, Campana advanced to third and scored on a grounder to first off the bat of David DeJesus. Alfonso Soriano struck out on three pitches to end the game.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs welcome the Red Sox to Wrigley for the weekend. Ryan Dempster will square off against Daisuke Matsuzaka in game one Friday afternoon.

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