Game One Hundred Eight – Cubs 2 Mets 6
WP – Guillermo Mota (1-0) LP – Ryan Dempster (2-4) Save – None
What started out as a pitcher’s duel ended with another horrendous outing by the Cubs’ bullpen. Carlos Zambrano gave up just 1 run on 2 hits in 5+ innings of work but had to leave the game in the 6th inning with heat related cramps. He did not allow a hit until the 5th inning and the only run he allowed was a home run by Ramon Castro. Zambrano struggled with his command and tied a career high with 7 walks while striking out 5. Cubs’ pitchers walked 11 batters on the afternoon with both go ahead runs in the 7th and 9th innings being scored after reaching base via the free pass.
Orlando Hernandez held Lou Piniella’s offense in check. The Cubs could not string together any hits against El Duque and were not able to put multiple runners on base until the 9th inning. The game was tied 2-2 when Ryan Dempster took the hill to start the 9th but the Mets offense had another big inning against the Cubs’ closer. Dempster walked David Wright to start the inning and once again a hit by Carlos Delgado off of Dempster turned out to be the difference in the game, 3 of the Mets’ 4 runs came with 2 outs. For the second game in a row, the Cubs bullpen could not hold a high-powered offense in check in the 9th inning. Will Ohman gave up 3 runs on Thursday and Ryan Dempster gave up 4 on Friday. The Mets, however, must know something about Dempster that the rest of the league has yet to figure out. While Dempster might not be a typical closer, he can usually get the job done, sometimes more effectively than others….but not against the Mets. After Friday’s performance, the Mets have scored 9 runs on 8 hits with 3 walks in their last 1 1/3 innings against Dempster. Lou Piniella’s bullpen cost the Cubs more games than anyone cares to remember back in April and May and if they want to stay in the hunt for the post-season they must address their regressed bullpen. While the starters have struggled this homestand, games late in the season are won in the bullpen and Piniella’s pen is very taxed and full of holes.
Derrek Lee and Jason Kendall drove in the only 2 runs of the day for the Cubs. Lee hit his 12th home run of the season in the 6th to tie the game and Jason Kendall doubled home Mark DeRosa to tie the game in the 7th. Jacque Jones doubled to lead off the 3rd and Aramis Ramirez doubled in the 4th.
Kerry Wood was activated from the DL on Friday and warmed up in the pen in the 7th inning but did not make an appearance. Angel Guzman was transferred to the 60-day DL in order to make room for Wood on the 40-man roster.
Ryan Theriot was 0-for-4 on the afternoon and his string of reaching base safely ended at 27 games.
The Cubs will look to get back on track on Saturday afternoon. Ted Lilly will face one of the best in the National League in John Maine and it will not get any easier for the Cubs offense.