Game Twenty – Cubs 1 Brewers 4
WP – Jeff Suppan (3-2) LP – Rich Hill (3-1) Save – Francisco Cordero (8)
Rich Hill retired the first 10 Brewers he faced but in the 4th inning Prince Fielder hit his third home run in two games, a 2-run shot to right, which proved to be the game winner. Hill allowed 4 runs in 6 2/3 innings and the Brewers ended his scoreless innings streak at 19 1/3. While Hill was not as dominate as he had been in his previous starts, he threw well enough to win the game but the Cubs offense were shutout for the first 8 2/3 innings, after numerous opportunities.
Jeff Suppan pitched a very good game but his outing was not a typical shutout performance. The Cubs had runners in scoring position in five consecutive innings, including the bases loaded with just 1-out in the 2nd inning but the Brewers defense made plays when needed and the three double plays they turned killed any momentum the Cubs tried to build against Suppan. Rich Hill threw strikes again and looked very confident on the mound. He breezed threw the Brewers lineup until J.J. Hardy doubled to left with 1-out in the 4th. Hill was elevating his pitches in the 4th and the Brewers took advantage. Prince Fielder followed the Hardy double with a home run to right….the first runs scored off of Hill since April 6th, it turns out he is human after all. Hill walked Bill Hall after the homer and with 2-outs, Corey Hart singled to center but Hill struck out Damian Miller on a check swing to end the inning. Fielder’s home run was the 35th of his career, his 7th at Wrigley.
Hill walked Rickie Weeks with 2 outs in the 5th but he retired Hardy on a fly out to center to end the inning. After 1-out in the 6th, Bill Hall singled to right but Hill picked him off 1st base. Kevin Mench followed the pick off with a home run to left. In the 7th with the rain coming down a little harder, Piniella left Hill in the game and he walked Damian Miller to lead off the inning. Tony Graffanino grounded out to 3rd on a 3-2 pitch and Miller advanced to 2nd. Rickie Weeks followed with a single to right, Miller scored as Jacque Jones’ throw was up the 3rd base line and over the head of Michael Barrett. Piniella went to the pen for Rocky Cherry.
Rich Hill did not have his “A” game on Tuesday but he did give the Cubs every opportunity to win the game early. Hill struck out 5 on the evening (108 pitches, 72 for strikes) to go along with 3 walks….all 5 earned runs Hill has allowed this season have come at the hands of the Brewers.
Rocky Cherry recovered from his Major League debut and gave up just 2 hits in an inning and a third. Cherry threw strikes (19 pitches, 14 for strikes) and pitched his way out of trouble in the 8th. After retiring Fielder and Hall, both Mench and Hart singled but Cherry struck out Miller to end the inning.
Scott Eyre pitched the 9th and to say he had a rocky start would be an understatement. Eyre gave up back-to-back singles to Graffanino and pinch hitter, Craig Counsell. He then struck out Weeks but walked Hardy to load the bases. Eyre gathered himself after starting 3-0 to Fielder, struck him out swinging and retired Hall on a broken bat grounder to 3rd. Eyre recovered from the bad start….maybe this outing will get him back on track. He threw 22 pitches, 14 for strikes.
The loss on Tuesday cannot be blamed on the performance of the pitching staff, 4 runs on 10 hits, 4 walks and 8 strikeouts should be enough to win a ballgame at home.
After going down in order in the 1st inning, the offense starting hitting the ball….just not with runners in scoring position. They managed 9 hits but just 2 walks on the night and the lone score came in the 9th inning with 2 outs. Aramis Ramirez led off the 2nd with a single past Weeks, Michael Barrett followed with a bouncer up the middle that Hardy could not handle and by the time Weeks could make the throw, Barrett was safe as Fielder was pulled off the bag. Jacque Jones followed with a ground out to short but the Brewers were not able to pull off the double play….the Cubs actually got a break, Jones was out as Fielder’s foot was on the bag. Mark DeRosa walked to load the bases with 1-out and it appeared the Cubs were on their way but Cesar Izturis hit a weak grounder to Hardy, he stepped on 2nd and fired to Fielder….6-3 double play, inning over.
In the 3rd, Felix Pie singled to left center with 2 outs and advanced to 3rd on a single to left by Derrek Lee but Ramirez popped out to Fielder to end the inning. In the 4th, the Cubs “Adventures in Baserunning” continued. Barrett led of the inning with a double to right that hit the chalk and Jones flied out to left center. DeRosa hit the Suppan offering right to Weeks at 2nd who tossed to Hardy for the double play….Barrett misread the ball. In the 6th, Izturis led off the inning with a single to left but Rich Hill bunted the ball too hard to Suppan who fired to 2nd to start the 1-6-3 double play. Alfonso Soriano followed and after a very good at bat hit a double off the centerfield wall that on any other night would have been out of the park. Pie grounded out to 2nd to end the inning.
The missed sacrifice by Rich Hill was the latest in the series of bad bunt attempts. This is one aspect of the game the coaching staff can have an affect on. The Cubs inability to lay down a sacrifice bunt have cost them numerous scoring opportunities in the past week alone….and sometimes the smallest detail can make the biggest difference.
In the 6th, Derrek Lee doubled to lead off the inning but was stranded in scoring position. It appeared the Cubs were well on their way to being shutout for the second time this season but Daryle Ward drew a 2-out walk in the 9th and Mark DeRosa doubled to left to score Ward from 1st. Kevin Mench actually slipped in the wet grass in left, the ball hit off of his glove and DeRosa ended up at 2nd but Ned Yost went to his pen for Francisco Cordero and he struck out Cliff Floyd to end the game.
After the loss on Tuesday night, the Cubs find themselves 6 games under .500 with Lou Piniella shaking his head. The Cubs have to figure out how to do the little stuff that wins ballgames and that will take contributions on a daily basis from every player on the 25-man roster….a couple of good wins will help put this team back on track but they must come sooner rather than later.
Ted Lilly is scheduled to make the start on Wednesday afternoon against Ben Sheets. The Cubs need to string together some hits and remember what it is like to score runs in bunches.