Cubs Cannot Dodge a Long, Sloppy Loss – Cubs 7, Dodgers 11

Spring Training Game Five – Cubs 7, Dodgers 11

WP – Aaron Harang (1-0) LP – Trey McNutt (0-1) Save – None

A Spring Training game that lasts for nearly four hours is never a good sign, and that was the case on Wednesday afternoon at HoHoKam Park. The Cubs and Dodgers played a sloppy game with Los Angeles beating the Cubs for the second time this spring.

Starlin Castro left Wednesday’s game in the fourth inning after injuring his hamstring. Castro grabbed his left hamstring after hustling up the line to beat a throw from Dee Gordon. Reports indicated Castro suffered mild tightness in his left hamstring and is listed as day-to-day.

Cubs’ pitching struggled once again. After issuing nine walks and hitting a batter on Monday to the Dodgers in Glendale, the Cubs walked four Dodgers on Wednesday, uncorked two wild pitches and pitched from behind in the count most of the afternoon. The Cubs allowed 11 runs on 14 hits with four walks, five strikeouts and two wild pitches. Due to pitchers hitting their pitch counts, Dale Sveum used eight pitchers on Wednesday afternoon.

Brooks Raley barely made it out of the first inning and hit his pitch limit without making an out in the second inning. Raley really struggled with his command, and got ahead in the count to only two of the eight batters he faced. Raley was charged with three runs on four hits with a walk, a wild pitch, and a strikeout in one-plus innings of work. Raley turned the game over to Trey McNutt with the bases loaded in the second, and McNutt did not fare any better.

Trey McNutt allowed two runs on three hits in an inning of work without a strikeout or walk. McNutt uncorked a wild pitch that allowed a run to scored, and like Raley, pitched from behind in the count. Jaye Chapman could not find the strike zone either. Chapman walked two, surrendered two hits and allowed three runs in a third of an inning.

Alberto Cabrera made his spring debut on Wednesday, and was very good for his first two innings of work. Cabrera ran out of gas over his last two-thirds and ended up allowing two runs on four hits with three strikeouts and no walks in 2 2/3 innings.

Hisanori Takahashi served up the first home run hit off Cubs’ pitching this spring in the seventh and walked a batter in his second outing of the spring.

The three relievers that figure to break camp with the team each had a good afternoon. Michael Bowden, Shawn Camp and James Russell did not allow any hits, runs or walks.

The Cubs offense jumped on Aaron Harang in the first inning. The Cubs hit around for the second time this spring, and scored four times. Luis Valbuena (1-for-2 with a double and a run scored) stayed hot. Anthony Rizzo (1-for-2 with a RBI) drove in a run with a bloop single. Starlin Castro (1-for-3 with a run) singled and scored in the first while Nate Schierholtz (2-for-2 with two runs scored and a RBI) drove in a run and added two more hits. Darwin Barney (2-for-2) capped the scoring in the first with a two-out, two-run single.

After showing improvement over the first four games, the Cubs defense was charged with three errors on Wednesday. Scott Hairston dropped a ball in center, and both J.C. Boscan and Junior Lake committed throwing errors.

The players that figure to break camp with the team got their work in on Wednesday while being productive on the field … but the pitchers that were not able to throw strikes last year struggled in their first outings of the spring.

Brooks Raley’s day began on a positive note. Brooks Raley caught Jerry Hairston Jr. looking on a 2-2 pitch. Alfredo Amezaga followed with a single to left on a 3-1 pitch. Raley fell behind Hanley Ramirez 3-1 before the Dodgers’ shortstop grounded out to third on a 3-2 pitch. Amezaga ran with the pitch and advanced to second. Adrian Gonzalez smoked a 3-0 pitch toward first that Rizzo deflected to Barney. Gonzalez beat Raley to the bag and the Dodgers had runners on first and third with one down. Raley then walked Luna (3-1 pitch) to load the bases. Raley uncorked a wild pitch on the first offering to Nick Punto. Amezaga scored, 1-0 Dodgers. Punto ended up grounding a 3-2 pitch to Lillibridge at short to end the inning.

Luis Valbuena pulled a 2-1 pitch from Aaron Harang into the right field corner. Valbuena ended up at second and advanced to third on a single to center off the bat of Starlin Castro (1-0 pitch). Anthony Rizzo blooped a 2-1 pitch down the left field line. Valbuena scored and tied the game at one. Alfonso Soriano grounded into a 6-4 fielder’s choice. Soriano took over at first with one down. Nate Schierholtz ripped a 1-0 pitch into right. Castro scored and the Cubs took a 2-1 lead. Hairston popped out to third (infield fly) for the second out. After Welington Castillo walked to load the bases, Darwin Barney ripped a 2-1 pitch back up the middle and into centerfield. Soriano and Schierholtz scored, 4-1 Cubs. Lillibridge struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

Brooks Raley stayed in the game for the second and gave up back-to-back singles to Tim Federowicz and Yasiel Puig (3-1 pitch). After Elian Herrera singled to right on a 2-1 pitch to load the bases, Dale Sveum went to his pen for Trey McNutt.

Jerry Hairston Jr. greeted McNutt with a double to right center that cut the Cubs lead to 4-3. Amezaga singled to left. Herrera scored and tied the game at four. With runners on first and third with no outs, Hanley Ramirez drove a 2-0 pitch to the track in left center. Soriano hauled it in but Hairston Jr. scored, 5-4 Dodgers … and Amezaga moved up ninety feet. Adrian Gonzalez lined a 1-2 pitch back up the middle that McNutt knocked down and was able to record the out at first. Amezaga advanced to third and was stranded when Luna grounded out to third base.

Jaye Chapman replaced McNutt in the third. Chapman walked Punto and Federowicz to start his outing. Puig hit a deep drive to center that Scott Hairston dropped. With the bases loaded and no outs, Herrera singled on a 2-0 pitch. Punto scored, 6-4 Dodgers. Hairston Jr. followed with a sac fly to his brother in center (3-2 pitch) that allowed Federowicz to tag and score from third. After Amezaga singled in Puig (2-0 pitch) to make it 8-4 Dodgers, Sveum decided that was enough and went back to his pen. Alberto Cabrera induced a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Hanley Ramirez to end the inning.

Mark Lowe took over for the Dodgers in the third. Nate Schierholtz reached on a bloop single to center with one out. Welington Castillo singled to left (3-2 pitch) with two down. Darwin Barney was credited with an infield single after a bad throw from Luna allowed him to reach and Schierholtz to score. Lillibridge struck out swinging with runners on second and third to end the inning.

Alberto Cabrera retired the Dodgers in order in the fourth … and two of the outs were via the strikeout, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto.

Junior Lake walked to start the fourth and swiped second with Castro at the plate. Castro hit a 1-0 pitch back up the box that Dee Gordon got to but his throw was off. Lake scored on the error and Castro left the game with a tight left hamstring. Brian Bogusevic hit for Rizzo and walked. A wild pitch with Jorge Soler at the plate allowed Johermyn Chavez (running for Castro) and Bogusevic to move up ninety feet. Soler struck out but Darnell McDonald plated Chavez with a sac fly. With Bogusevic at third and two down, Dave Sappelt flied out to right.

Alberto Cabrera ran out of gas in the fifth. Puig reached on a one-out single to right and advanced to third on a double to right center off the bat of Herrera. Barden plated two runs with a single to center … 9-7 Dodgers. Rusty Ryal blooped a single into center, Barden advanced to third and scored on a throwing error by J.C. Boscan. Dallas McPherson flied out to center to end the inning.

Michael Bowden retired the Dodgers in order in the sixth with two groundball outs and a strikeout.

Hisanori Takahashi served up a solo home run to Alex Castellanos in the seventh for the Dodgers’ eleventh and final run.

Shawn Camp made quick work of the Dodgers in the eighth … and James Russell worked around a throwing error by Junior Lake in the ninth by picking Castellanos off first base.

The Cubs worked a pair of walks in the ninth against Juan Abreu but were not able to push across any runs.

The Cubs have lost two games against the Dodgers this spring … and played bad ball in each of the two exhibition games.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Gameday for Play-by-Play

The Cubs host the Oakland A’s on Thursday afternoon. Scott Feldman is scheduled to face Brett Anderson in his Cubs’ debut.

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