Garza Good, Bullpen Bad, Cubs Lose – Cubs 4, Pirates 5

Game Forty-Four – Cubs 4, Pirates 5

WP – Wandy Rodriguez (5-2) LP – James Russell (1-1) Save – Jason Grilli (18)

The Cubs took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth after a tremendous outing from Matt Garza. Garza took a no-hitter into the fifth and turned the game over to the pen after pitching five innings of one-hit shutout ball. The Cubs pen gave up five runs in the sixth with the big blow coming off the bat of pinch-hitter Travis Snider. After James Russell walked in a run, Shawn Camp served up the grand slam to Travis Snider that ended up being the difference in the game.

Matt Garza was very good in his first outing on a big league mound in 10 months. Garza did struggle with his command early while throwing no-hit ball. Five 3-2 counts to the first seven batters he faced to go along with five strikeouts the first time through the lineup ran up his pitch count in the first two innings and led to Garza’s early exit.

Matt Garza held the Pirates scoreless with just one hit and three walks over the first five innings. Garza hit his pitch count limit and Dale Sveum had to go to his pen for the sixth inning. Instead of piggybacking Garza with Carlos Villanueva, Sveum went to Hector Rondon to start the sixth and before the Cubs could record three outs, the Pirates sent 11 to the plate and scored five runs on five hits, three walks and one grand slam.

Matt Garza’s final line after his first outing of 2013 … no runs on one hit with three walks, a wild pitch, and five strikeouts in five innings. Garza threw 82 pitches, 49 for strikes, and he even helped his own cause in the second inning.

After Darwin Barney (4-for-4 with a triple, a RBI and two runs scored) drove in the Cubs’ first run with a two out single in the second, Matt Garza (1-for-2 with a double and two RBI) doubled to right center and plated two runs. Garza doubled his career RBI total with one swing … Cubs’ pitchers have recorded a league leading 13 RBI this season.

Once again the Cubs outhit their opponent in a one-run loss. The Cubs pounded out 11 hits, two for extra bases, but managed only one walk … 3-for-9 with RISP and left eight men on base. Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4 with a run scored) collected two of the Cubs hits and scored a run while Starlin Castro (1-for-5 with a RBI) singled in the Cubs’ fourth run in the ninth inning.

Anthony Rizzo had a bad night. Rizzo went 0-for-5 and one of his two strikeouts ended the game with two on and the Cubs down by one run.

While Tuesday’s loss is not solely on Shawn Camp, his season-long struggles continued. After Hector Rondon departed with the bases loaded and one out, James Russell walked Pedro Alvarez to force in a run. Camp retired the first batter he faced before serving up the slam to Travis Snider.

The Cubs began a very difficult stretch of games with another tough loss. The Cubs are now 18-26 on the season and 6-11 in games decided by one run.

After the Cubs went down quickly and quietly in the first inning, Matt Garza made his first big league start in 10 months. Garza retired Jose Tabata on a grounder to second then issued a one-out walk to Neil Walker. Julio Borbon made an excellent running catch on a ball smoked to left center off the bat of Andrew McCutchen. Borbon ran into the gap then caught the ball before hitting the wall. Borbon’s catch seemed to settle down Garza a little bit. Garza struck out Garrett Jones swinging (3-2 pitch)to end the inning. Garza threw 22 pitches, 12 for strikes, in the first inning.

Alfonso Soriano led off the second with a single to center. Rodriguez struck out the struggling Scott Hairston for the first out. Welington Castillo singled to right center and Soriano advanced to third with one down. Rodriguez caught Cody Ransom looking at a 1-2 pitch for the second out. Barney stepped in with runners on first and third with two outs.

Darwin Barney bounced a 1-2 pitch past Clint Barmes into left field. Soriano scored and the Cubs took a 1-0 lead. Matt Garza then surprised everyone watching the game by driving a double into the gap in right center. Castillo and Barney scored, 3-0 Cubs. Borbon looked a three straight out of the zone before pulling a 3-1 pitch from Rodriguez to deep right center. McCutchen made a leaping catch just before the wall in right center to end the inning.

Matt Garza struck out the side in order in the second. Garza struck out four in a row but needed 40 pitches, 22 for strikes, to complete two innings on Tuesday night.

The Cubs were not able to tack on against Wandy Rodriguez and Matt Garza settled in nicely through four innings.

Matt Garza needed 62 pitches, 37 for strikes, to get through four innings on Tuesday and took the mound in the fifth with a 3-0 lead and a no-hitter intact. Garza retired Alvarez before issuing a walk to Gaby Sanchez. Clint Barmes then reached out and poked a 1-2 pitch into right field. Sanchez held at second on Barmes’ single, the Pirates first hit of the game. Wandy Rodriguez bunted toward third. As Ransom was throwing out Rodriguez at first, Sanchez and Barmes moved up ninety feet. Jose Tabata hit a slower roller up the third base line. Ransom fielded and made an off balance throw to first to end the inning.

The Cubs went down in order rather quickly in the sixth … and the game went to the bottom of the sixth with the Cubs up 3-0.

Hector Rondon took over for Garza to start the sixth. Rondon has been very good for the most part this season, but not on Tuesday night.

Neil Walker led off the sixth with a double down the right field line (2-0 pitch). McCutchen grounded out to third for the first out. Garrett Jones then blooped a 0-1 pitch into left. Walker advanced to third with one down … and Rondon was in trouble. Rondon jumped ahead of Russell Martin 1-2 before walking him to load the bases with one down.

Dale Sveum decided that was enough for Rondon and went to his pen to get James Russell to face Pedro Alvarez. Russell missed badly with his first three pitches then picked up two strikes. Russell tried to get Alvarez to chase a ball in the dirt but Alvarez was ruled to have checked his swing. Alvarez walked, Walker trotted home with the Pirates first run and Sveum went back to his pen for Shawn Camp … and Ryan Sweeney took over for Hairston in right on a double switch.

Gaby Sanchez flied out to left on a 1-2 pitch for the second out. Jones held at third. With the bases loaded and two down, Clint Hurdle went to his bench and sent up Travis Snider to hit for Clint Barmes.

Shawn Camp fell behind 2-0. Snider then pulled Camp’s next pitch into the stands in right field. Snider’s second pinch hit of the season (2-for-13) left the park and his pinch hit grand slam gave the Pirates a 5-3 lead. Camp gave up a double to pinch hitter Jordy Mercer. Jose Tabata drove a 1-2 pitch back up the middle. Castro knocked the ball down, kept the run from scoring, but did not have a play. With runners on first and third with two down, Camp walked Neil Walker to load the bases. Andrew McCutchen smoked a 0-2 pitch out to left … that Soriano caught to end the inning.

The Cubs pen gave up five runs on five hits with three walks and one huge grand slam in the sixth inning. The inning took about 30 minutes to play because Rondon, Russell and Camp threw 41 pitches.

The Cubs had a chance to get at least a run back in the seventh against Justin Wilson. The hard throwing southpaw had zero command. Ransom was called out at first base on a grounder to third to start the inning. Alvarez made a nice diving stop on a ball hit down the line but the throw from his knees pulled Sanchez off the bag. First base umpire Mike Winters did not see it that way and called Ransom out. Darwin Barney and Ryan Sweeney followed with back-to-back singles … but Julio Borbon struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) and Castro grounded out to short to end the inning.

Carlos Marmol kept the Pirates off the board in the seventh. Other than a pinch hit single by David DeJesus, the Cubs did nothing against Mark Melancon in the eighth. Kevin Gregg gave up an infield single in the bottom of the eighth.

Darwin Barney tripled to left with one out in the ninth but Jason Grilli retired Ryan Sweeney on a pop out to the mound. Julio Borbon worked a two out walk, the Cubs only free pass of the night. Starlin Castro singled to right and plated Barney with the Cubs’ fourth run. With the tying run ninety feet away, Anthony Rizzo struck out swinging to end the game.

Weather permittingJeff Samardzija will face Francisco Liriano on Wednesday night.

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Quote of the Day

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