Marmol and Fujikawa Blow It – Cubs 5, Braves 6

Game Five – Cubs 5, Braves 6

WP – Eric O’Flaherty (1-0) LP – Carlos Marmol (0-1, BS 1) Save – None

The Cubs gave one away on Saturday night in Atlanta and wasted an excellent outing from Carlos Villanueva in his Cubs’ debut. The Upton Brothers hit a pair of solo home runs off Carlos Marmol in the ninth and beat the Cubs 6-5.

The Cubs took a 5-1 lead into the eighth inning after failing to tack on in the seventh and eighth innings. Kyuji Fujikawa struggled with his command and appeared very uncomfortable on the mound. The Braves scored three runs off Fujikawa in the eighth before Reed Johnson grounded into an inning ending double play. The game went to the ninth with the Cubs clinging to a 5-4 lead.

The Cubs put two runners on in the ninth but failed to score for the third straight inning … and the game went to the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs up by one and Carlos Marmol on the mound.

The one run lead quickly evaporated. B.J. Upton led off the ninth and crushed a 3-1 pitch from Marmol over the wall in center. Marmol retired Heyward on a liner to left then Justin Upton stepped in and ended the game. Justin Upton hit his second homer of the game, third of the series, over the wall in center to end the game.

The Upton Brothers became the first brothers in Major League history to hit a game-tying and walk-off home run in the same inning.

Carlos Villanueva put together a very good outing. Villanueva made only one mistake in his 6 2/3 innings, he served up the first homer of the night to Justin Upton in the first inning. Villanueva found a rhythm and mixed his pitches rather well. At one point he struck out three straight batters. Villanueva left with two outs in the seventh and was charged with one run on six hits, two walks, a hit batsman and six strikeouts. Villanueva threw 92 pitches, 60 for strikes, and was in line for the win when he left the game.

The Cubs offense had a good night and set season highs in runs scored (5) and hits (13) but was unable to add on over the last three innings when they had plenty of opportunities. The Cubs were 2-for-11 on Saturday night with RISP and left 12 on base … with a majority of those runners (7) left on base over the final three innings.

Anthony Rizzo (2-for-5 with a home run and two RBI) hit his second longball of the season, a two-run shot in the fifth. Luis Valbuena (2-for-4 with a home run and a walk) broke the 1-1 tie in the fourth with his first hit of the season, a solo homer to right. Welington Castillo (2-for-5 with a RBI and a stolen base) continued to impress both at and behind the plate.

Nate Schierholtz (2-for-5 with a double, a RBI and a run score) collected two more hits. Every starter, including Carlos Villanueva (1-for-3) had at least one hit on Saturday night.

Saturday night’s loss stung a little more than usual, the Cubs outplayed the Braves until the eighth inning then just handed them the game.

The Cubs received a gift from Jason Heyward in the first inning. David DeJesus hit a sinking liner to right (0-2 pitch). Heyward appeared to have a play on the ball but could not complete the catch as he fell to the ground. The ball skipped past him and DeJesus ended up a second with a double. Castro had a bad at bat and rolled over a 2-0 pitch. Castro grounded out to third and did not advance DeJesus. Rizzo popped out to shallow left for the second out (1-for-13 on the season). Julio Teheran walked Alfonso Soriano on four pitches, and the Cubs had runners on first and second with two down.

Nate Schierholtz continued his solid work and ripped a 2-1 pitch into center. DeJesus scored and gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead. With runners on first and third, Castillo grounded out to third (1-2 pitch) to end the inning.

Carlos Villanueva walked B.J. Upton on four pitches to start his outing. Villanueva and Castillo paid a lot of attention to the older Upton, and it paid off. Welington Castillo threw out Upton trying to swipe second on a 1-1 pitch to Heyward. Heyward popped out to Gonzalez for the second out. Villanueva then got ahead of Justin Upton 1-2. Villanueva missed on his next offering … but Justin Upton did not miss his next pitch. Upton launched Villanueva’s 2-2 pitch over the wall in straight away center … game tied at one. Freeman flied out to right to end the inning. Villanueva threw 16 pitches, eight for strikes, in the opening inning.

The game remained tied at one until the fourth inning.

After Castillo struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch to start the fourth, Luis Valbuena ended a 0-for-the-season with a solo homer to right. Gonzalez grounded out to third and Villanueva popped out to third to end the inning.

Carlos Villanueva worked around a two-out bloop double off the bat of Gerald Laird in the fourth … and the Cubs went to the fifth clinging to a 2-1 lead.

David DeJesus grounded out to Freeman (1-2 pitch) for the first out in the fifth. Starlin Castro put together an eight-pitch at bat that ended with a swinging bunt up the third baseline. Castro hustled out of the box and ended up with a single.

Anthony Rizzo crushed the first offering from Julio Teheran. The ball ended up well beyond the wall in right center. Rizzo’s second hit and second homer of the season put the Cubs up 4-1.

Nate Schierholtz doubled to right center (0-2 pitch) after Soriano grounded out to third for the second out. Welington Castillo followed Schierholtz with a single to center (2-2 pitch), Schierholtz scored and the Cubs took a 5-1 lead. Valbuena struck out swinging to end the inning.

Carlos Villanueva worked out a two-out, four-pitch walk to Heyward in the fifth by striking out Justin Upton swinging to end the inning … 70 pitches for Villanueva after five, 44 for strikes.

The Cubs wasted a chance to take on in the seventh.  Anthony Rizzo reached on a bloop single to left (1-1 pitch). Alfonso Soriano drove the first pitch from Cristhian Martinez into right, near the line. Rizzo ended up at third with one out. Schierholtz pulled a 1-0 pitch right to Freeman. The Braves’ first baseman threw home and Laird applied the tag on Rizzo for the second out. Castillo grounded out to short to end the inning.

Carlos Villanueva started the seventh with a 5-1 lead. Villanueva retired Pena and pinch-hitter Chris Johnson rather quickly. B.J. Upton reached on an infield single to short. Castro charged the chopper, the ball took a weird hop on the bouncer and Castro had no play. B.J. ended up with a single, his first hit of the season. Dale Sveum made the slow walk and went to his pen for James Russell. Jason Heyward flied out to Schierholtz (2-1 pitch) to end the inning.

The Cubs squandered a chance to blow the game open in the eighth. Luis Valbuena greeted Anthony Varvaro with a single to right center. Alberto Gonzalez singled to right center (3-2 pitch). Steve Clevenger hit for James Russell and worked a walk to load the bases with no outs. DeJesus grounded a 1-2 pitch toward second. Uggla fielded the ball and threw home to force Valbuena. Fredi Gonzalez went to his pen for Cory Gearrin.

With the bases loaded and one down, Starlin Castro hit a sinking liner to center (2-1 pitch). B.J. Upton ran in and made the catch. Upton bobbled the ball in the exchange but Gonzalez did not try to score. Anthony Rizzo struck out swinging to end the inning.

The game went to the eighth with the Cubs up 5-1.

Kyuji Fujikawa made his way in from the pen and Justin Upton greeted him with a hustle double to left. Upton smoked a 0-2 pitch past Valbuena. Soriano made a good throw to second that Gonzalez could not handle. Fujikawa uncorked a wild pitch on the first offering to Freeman. Upton advanced to third and scored when Freeman singled to center. Dan Uggla then beat the shift with a single to right (1-1 pitch). With runners on first and second with no outs, Fujikawa struck out Francisco swinging on a high fastball. Fujikawa then walked Gerald Laird (3-2 pitch) and loaded the bases with one out.

Ramiro Pena, the Braves back-up shortstop, lined Fujikawa’s first pitch into center. Freeman and Uggla scored … and just like that the Cubs lead was down to 5-4.

Reed Johnson hit for Cory Gearrin and hit a soft liner (1-0 pitch) back up the middle. The ball hit the dirt around the second base bag. Gonzalez grabbed the ball with his barehand, stepped on second and fired to first to complete the double play.

The Cubs were not able to add on after Castillo reached with a two-out single and stole second with Valbuena at the plate. Valbuena walked before Eric O’Flaherty struck out Gonzalez swinging to end the inning.

The game went to the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs clinging to a 5-4 lead.

Carlos Marmol served up a homer to B.J. Upton (3-1 pitch) … and on the first batter Marmol faced, the game was tied at five. Heyward lined out to left (1-2 pitch) then Justin Upton crushed a 1-2 pitch to straight away centerfield … game over. And the Braves celebrated the walk-off win.

Jeff Samardzija will try to salvage a game in Atlanta. Samardzija faces Tim Hudson on Sunday afternoon in the series finale.

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Quote of the Day

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