Game One Hundred Twenty-Eight – Cubs 5 Nationals 13
WP – John Lannan (7-12) LP – Neal Cotts (0-2, BS 2) Save – None
Lou Piniella said it best in his post-game press conference, “From my perspective it was a pretty good game for 5 innings.” For the first 5 innings the Cubs appeared on their way to a win in the series opener against the Nationals. They jumped out to a 4-0 lead and scored runs in 3 of the first 4 innings. Alfonso Soriano stole home on the back end of a double steal for the Cubs’ first run. Derrek Lee hit his first home run since the end of July and Mark DeRosa found Waveland for a 2-run shot in the 4th. Then the Cubs pitching staff forgot how to throw strikes.
Jason Marquis allowed 2 hits and no runs through the first 5 innings but a lead off single by Emilio Bonifacio in the 6th began the free fall and before it was all said and done the Washington Nationals scored 13 runs over the final 4 innings of the game.
Marquis issued back-to-back walks to load the bases then surrendered a sacrifice fly to Lastings Milledge. Ronnie Belliard followed with a double to right on a 1-2 pitch that cut the Cubs’ lead in half. Lou Piniella removed Marquis and for one of the few times this season, the bullpen just imploded.
The Cubs bullpen had allowed runs to score in only 2 of the last 10 games before Friday and when it was all said and done, the bullpen gave up 9 runs on 9 hits in the final 3 2/3 innings.
Neal Cotts walked pinch hitter Austin Kearns to reload the bases and then served up a grand slam to Willie Harris, the first of his career….all 3 walks issued in the 6th came around to score.
The Cubs cut the score to 7-5 but a pinch-hit, bases clearing double by Aaron ‘Bleepin‘ Boone drove in 3 more in the 8th. Ronnie Belliard added a solo shot in the 9th and Willie Harris hit his second home run of the afternoon off of Chad Gaudin in the 9th….Harris tied a career high with 6 RBI’s on Friday afternoon.
The start of the game was delayed for one hour and two minutes….too bad the rains did not return after the top of the 5th.
It is one game, but it is a bad loss at home. The Cubs were flat in the series against the Reds and hopefully Friday’s embarrassment will wake them up…. For obvious reasons Lou Piniella was not happy following the game and for more than just Friday, this might be a good time to give Sean Marshall more work in the starting rotation. Jason Marquis and his inconsistency opened the door. Up by four runs at home, the pitcher’s job is to throw strikes…..period.
Piniella was asked about Marquis after the game and his troubles throwing strikes in the 6th inning. Piniella responded with, “I don’t have an explanation for it.“ Jason Marquis has been his own worst enemy for his entire career and until he learns, days like Friday will continue to happen.
Again, one game….one bad afternoon.
Saturday is an important game for the Cubs. With Ryan Dempster scheduled to face Odalis Perez, the entire team must come out with a purpose, score runs early and often and make Friday a distant memory. As Piniella stated, their job is “to win series” and finishing off the homestand on a positive note is a must at this point.