A Long, Short Night for Matt Garza – Cubs 3, Braves 7

Game Eighty-Two – Cubs 3, Braves 7
WP – Mike Minor (5-6) LP – Matt Garza (4-7) Save – None

The Braves teed off on Cubs’ pitching in the series and season finale on Thursday night. The Braves hit four home runs, three off Matt Garza, and put the game away early. The Cubs did not manage their first hit until the fifth inning, a solo homer off the bat of Geovany Soto (1-for-3 with a home run) and notched just five hits on the night. The Cubs split the four-game series in Atlanta but won the season series four games to three.

Matt Garza did not have it Thursday night and barely made it through the first inning. Garza served up a pair of two-run homers in the opening frame, both on 1-2 pitches to Jason Heyward and Brian McCann. Garza threw 44 pitches in the first inning and left after four with his team down 5-0 after Freddie Freeman took him deep in the third. Garza allowed five runs on five hits, three home runs, with three walks and six strikeouts on 94 pitches, 65 for strikes. Juan Francisco added to Garza’s frustration. Garza could not put hitters away and while Francisco managed only a walk in his two at bats against Garza, the Braves’ back-up third baseman saw 28 of Garza’s 94 pitches.

The Braves tacked on a run against Scott Maine in the fifth and Juan Francisco added a solo shot in the eighth off Manny Corpas.

The Cubs offense was non-existent Thursday night. Mike Minor took a no-hitter into the fifth. The Cubs showed little patience against the inconsistent southpaw and managed only two walks on the night. Geovany Soto broke up Minor’s no-hit bid with one out in the fifth. Soto launched his sixth homer of the season and put the Cubs on the board.

Anthony Rizzo (1-for-4 with a run) led off the seventh with the Cubs’ third hit. Alfonso Soriano followed with a walk. Reed Johnson hit for Scott Maine and drove in Rizzo with a single to right. Jason Heyward tried to throw out Soriano at third but his throw was off the mark and Soriano limped home with the Cubs’ third and final run. Jeff Baker (1-for-2) and David DeJesus (1-for-4) recorded the Cubs other two hits.

With Thursday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 31-51 on the season …

The Cubs did nothing in the first inning against Mike Minor … and made him throw only 13 pitches, nine strikes.

Matt Garza labored through a long, 44-pitch first inning and barely made it through the first frame. Everything was up in the first and the Braves took care of the rest. Garza started his night by striking out Michael Bourn swinging on three pitches … and it went downhill from there.

Martin Prado ripped a 0-1 pitch into left for a single. Jason Heyward lifted a 1-2 pitch out to right that just got out of the park … and just like that, the Cubs were down 2-0 on the 13th homer allowed by Garza on the season. Freddie Freeman followed with his first hit of the series, a single to right. Garza jumped ahead of Brian McCann 1-2 but McCann did not miss Garza’s fourth pitch of the at bat. McCann crushed Garza’s 1-2 offering, the ball ended up beyond the wall in right … and the Braves took a commanding 4-0 lead.

Garza caught Dan Uggla looking for the second out then walked Andrelton Simmons (3-2 pitch). Juan Francisco put together a long, frustrating at bat. Garza could not put Francisco away. After Francisco worked the count full he fouled off nine straight pitches. Francisco grounded out to a diving Anthony Rizzo on the 16th pitch of the at bat to end the inning.

Matt Garza threw 44 pitches in the first, 34 for strikes, and the Cubs were down 4-0.

Other than a one-out walk by Bryan LaHair, the Cubs did nothing in the second. Minor threw 34 pitches in the first two innings, 20 for strikes.

Garza ended up facing the minimum in the second. Garza retired Minor on a flyout to right then walked Michael Bourn on five pitches. Martin Prado hit a 0-1 pitch right to Barney in the shift … 4-3 inning ending double play. Garza needed only 10 pitches to get through the second inning (54 pitches, 40 strikes).

The Cubs did nothing in the third.

Matt Garza struck out Jason Heyward to begin the third. Freddie Freeman stepped in a launched a 1-1 pitch over the wall in center … 5-0 Braves. Garza struck out McCann swinging and Uggla flied out to deep right on a 2-0 pitch to end the inning.

After three, the Cubs trailed 5-0.

The Cubs did nothing in the fourth. Minor threw 58 pitches over four innings, 34 for strikes … and the Cubs did not have a single hit.

Garza took care of Andrelton Simmons on one pitch to begin the fourth … but Juan Francisco put together another long at bat. Garza ended up walking Francisco on the 12th pitch of the at bat. Garza threw 28 pitches to Francisco in two at bats. Mike Minor could not get the bunt down and bunted through a 1-2 pitch for the second out. Garza finished his night by striking out Michael Bourn swinging (2-2 pitch).

Bryan LaHair struck out swinging (3-2 pitch) to begin the fifth. Geovany Soto stepped in and pulled a 3-1 pitch from Minor to left … and broke up the shutout and no hitter with one swing. Soto’s sixth longball of the season made it a 5-1 ballgame. Darwin Barney grounded out to short and Luis Valbuena flied out to deep left (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.

Scott Maine took over in the fifth and Jeff Baker replaced Darwin Barney in a double switch. Martin Prado greeted Maine with a single to right. Jason Heyward lined a single into right just out of the reach of Jeff Baker. Bryan LaHair fielded the ball, then bobbled it. Prado and Heyward advanced to second and third on LaHair’s error. Maine settled down, threw strikes and retired Freeman (swinging strikeout) for the first out. Brian McCann did his job and lifted Maine’s first pitch to right. LaHair caught the ball and threw toward second as Prado scored. Heyward advanced to third with two outs. Maine struck out Uggla swinging to end the inning.

After five, the Cubs trailed 6-1.

Jeff Baker flied out to right (1-0 pitch) to begin the sixth. David DeJesus lined a 2-1 pitch back up the middle and into center … just the Cubs’ second hit of the game. Starlin Castro grounded into a 5-4-3 inning ending double play.

Scott Maine stayed in for the sixth. Maine made quick work of Simmons (swinging strikeout) and Francisco (groundout to short) to start the inning. Maine then did what too many Cubs’ pitchers have been doing of late. Maine walked Mike Minor on four pitches … the fifth time in 10 games Cubs pitching has walked the opposing pitcher. Maine continued to struggle with his command and issued a free pass to Michael Bourn. Maine refocused a got the call on a 1-2 pitch to Martin Prado to end the inning.

After six, the Cubs trailed 6-1.

Anthony Rizzo started the seventh by pulling the first pitch from Mike Minor into right field … the Cubs third hit of the game. Alfonso Soriano worked a walk and the Cubs had two runners on base for the first time. Minor stayed in to face LaHair and struck him out swinging (1-2 pitch) for the first out. Fredi Gonzalez made his way to the mound and brought in Kris Medlen to face Geovany Soto … Soto lined out to center (3-2 pitch) for the second out.

Reed Johnson hit for Scott Maine and chopped Medlen’s first pitch past Freeman and into right field. Rizzo scored and Heyward’s throw to third got past Francisco. Soriano lumbered in with the Cubs’ third run. With Reed Johnson at second, Luis Valbuena grounded out to short (0-1 pitch) for the third out.

Manny Corpas put a zero on the board in the seventh. Brian McCann reached on a two-out single to right but that was all for the Braves in the seventh.

After seven, the Cubs trailed 6-3.

Jeff Baker led off the eighth with an infield single off Eric O’Flaherty … but David DeJesus hit into a 6-4-3 double play and Starlin Castro ended his rough night at the plate by looking at a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.

Manny Corpas started the eighth by retiring Simmons on a grounder to short. Juan Francisco continued his big night by launching his sixth homer of the year, a solo shot to right center. Corpas retired pinch-hitter Eric Hinske (groundout to first) and Michael Bourn (groundout to second) to end the inning.

The Cubs went to the ninth trailing 7-3 … and the Cubs did not hit a ball past the mound against Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel struck out two of the three batters he faced (Soriano and LaHair) and threw just 12 pitches, 10 for strikes, to end the game.

The Cubs split the four games (2-2) and ended up 4-3 in the seven games against the Braves this season.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs open a three-game series Friday night in the Big Apple … Travis Wood against Johan Santana in game one.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne