Game Seventy-Four – Cubs 0 Pirates 3
WP – Ross Ohlendorf (7-6) LP – Ted Lilly (7-6) Save – Matt Capps (18)
An extremely bad month for the Chicago Cubs came to a fitting end on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. The Cubs were shutout for the eighth time this season and the third time on the current 10-game road trip (second time in two games) that concludes Wednesday with the finale against the Bucs. A day after putting together a solid win against Zach Duke, the Cubs reverted to the bad habits that led to an 11-14 record in June.
Ted Lilly didn’t pitch that badly and for the third time was on the wrong end of a shutout. Half of Lilly’s six losses this season have come in games when the Cubs did not score a single run. Lilly put together a quality start but his wild pitch and error led to the Pirates first run.
Lilly gave up three runs, two earned, on eight hits in seven innings with two walks and seven strikeouts. Freddy Sanchez continued killing Cubs’ pitching this season. Sanchez recorded three of the Pirates eight hits off Lilly, drove in two and scored the other. The final score could have read: Cubs 0 – Freddy Sanchez 3
Lou Piniella’s crew made Ross Ohlendorf look very good in his first career start against the Cubs. The offense managed only four hits and Ohlendorf struck out eight … a new season high. The Cubs did not make him work. He threw 93 pitches in seven innings and did not walk a single batter.
The Cubs had a chance in the eighth to make a game of it. After a single by Ryan Theriot and an infield single by Milton Bradley, with a little help from an error by Jack Wilson, the Cubs had runners on second and third with no outs … with the top of the lineup due up.
John Grabow struck out Alfonso Soriano swinging on four pitches. Kosuke Fukudome struck out looking on three pitches and Derrek Lee grounded out to second to end the inning. The Pirates were conceding the run and the Cubs could not put the bat on the ball.
As with a .500 team as soon as it appears they are taking a step forward, the show up in Pittsburgh and lay an egg. The Cubs lack of fundamentals is more than concerning. Bad baserunning has plagued this organization for years and it continued on Tuesday night. If that was the ‘only‘ fundamental problem this team had it could possibly be overlooked. But from sacrifice bunting to hitting behind runners to changing their approach at the plate with two strikes to sacrifice flies with runners on third and less than two outs, this team struggles with all of it on a daily basis. The ‘little things‘ are what wins ballgames …
The Pirates first run came on a bizarre play in which Freddy Sanchez scored all the way from second base on a wild pitch. Sanchez reached on a bloop single, the Pirates first hit, to start the fourth inning. Andy LaRoche singled to left on a 1-2 pitch with two outs. With Brandon Moss at the plate, Lilly uncorked a wild pitch that took a high bounce … Moss swung and missed strike three. Sanchez hustled to third and made the turn as Geovany Soto retrieved the ball. Soto threw to Lilly covering home and he did not catch the ball. Sanchez scored, 1-0 Pirates.
The Pirates tacked on in the fifth after Jack Wilson led off the inning with a bunt single to the first base side of the mound. Ross Ohlendorf sacrificed him to second. Lilly struck out Andrew McCutchen but Freddy Sanchez delivered a single to center on a 0-1 pitch.
Freddy Sanchez drove in the Pirates third and final run in the seventh. Steven Pearce doubled to left on a 2-2 pitch with one out. Pearce hit for Ohlendorf and John Russell’s gamble paid off. Lilly retired McCutchen for the second out on a fly out to center … but Sanchez doubled to left center and plated Pearce. Both of Sanchez’s RBI came with two outs …
The Cubs are a pathetic 2-7 on their current 10-game road trip with one more left to go. The Cubs must re-group … Wednesday is a beginning to a new month.
Randy Wells will face Virgil Vasquez in the series finale on Wednesday night.