Game Ninety-Five – Cubs 6 Nationals 7
The Washington Nationals are having their Grand Reopening this weekend at R.F.K. against the Cubs and Friday was anything but grand for the Boys in Blue. After an early deficit they scratched back to take the lead in the 7th only to lose the game in the 8th. The defense, or lack thereof, let the pitching staff down again and created extra opportunities for the Nationals….and they took advantage of every one of them.
The Cubs’ offense came to play again and scored 6 runs on 9 hits that included 3 home runs, two by Aramis Ramirez and one by John Mabry but they could not outscore the Nationals or make up for the daily blunders by the defense. This was a game the Cubs should have one. On a night that Derrek Lee sat and Mark Prior could not find the strike zone it looked like it was going to be a long evening in the Nation’s Capital. Well….Mark Prior left in the 4th after a horrible outing but Glendon Rusch came in and pitched 2 2/3 innings of 1 hit ball. Rusch pitched extremely well but the Cubs offense did not quit and after an early 4 to 1 deficit, they crept back a little at a time until they tied and took the lead in the 7th. After Scott Eyre left with an apparent back injury, Bobby Howry came in and gave up 3 runs on 4 hits in the 8th and the Cubs dropped the first game of the road trip.
Aramis Ramirez had an unbelievable night with two upper deck home runs, Michael Barrett continued swinging his hot bat, he added 2 hits and raised his average to .337. Juan Pierre had another good night at the dish as well, adding 2 hits including a double in the 7th that lead to the tying run. John Mabry added a solo home run, his second of the year in the 4th inning. In the end the Cubs could not hold onto the lead that they fought back to get and are tied on the season with the Nationals at two apiece.
The Cubs defense led by Todd Walker and Ronny Cedeno let down again on Friday night. Walker’s throwing error in the 7th led to extra pitches and extra opportunities for the Nationals. Walker made a low throw that John Mabry could not pick out of the dirt, Alex Escobar was safe and on the throwing error Ryan Zimmerman advanced to 3rd. Novoa then walked Kearns, Dusty went to the pen for Will Ohman. Ohman got pinch hitter Luis Matos to pop out in foul ground to Mabry and Felipe Lopez to fly out to right to end the inning with the bases loaded. The Nationals loaded the bases on three different occasions on Friday.
Roberto Novoa has been inconsistent all season but he deserved a better outcome than the one he got on Friday. Will Ohman did a tremendous job getting out of the bases loaded 1-out jam without allowing a run. Scott Eyre took the mound in the 8th, struck out Robert Fick and left the game with what appeared to be a stiff back (will update when information becomes available). Bobby Howry came in and gave up back-to-back hits to Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Anderson; Soriano stole 3rd and scored on a pop out in foul territory by Ryan Zimmerman. Nick Johnson then blooped another single to center and both Anderson and Johnson scored on a single to left by Alex Escobar, who injured himself running to 1st base. Cedeno should have gotten Johnson at the plate, he had all day and threw wide of the plate….the relay was just horrible.
Mark Prior was bailed out of another bad outing. He started the game by hitting Alfonso Soriano on the first pitch and then walked Marlon Anderson, who had a big night, on 4 pitches. Prior could not locate any of his breaking balls early and in general had problems with location all night. Prior threw only 3 1/3 innings and gave up 4 runs on 4 hits, walked 3; he hit 2 batters, threw two wild pitches and struck out 2 all on 76 pitches. Prior has not posted a win in his last 8 starts and his ERA rose to 8.14 on the season.
The Cubs saw first had on Friday how to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves one of these days they will learn how to do that. Sean Marshall is scheduled to face Livan Hernandez on Saturday afternoon on FOX, let’s hope the young lefty can beat the Nationals again and the defense will back him up.