Game Nine – Cubs 6 Brewers 8
WP – Chris Narveson (1-0, BS 1) LP – Jeff Samardzija (0-1) Save – Trevor Hoffman (3)
While the Cubs won the series against the Brewers (2-1), Lou Piniella’s crew fell short of sweeping Milwaukee at Wrigley for the first time since August of 2004. The Cubs offense did their job, for the most part. They hit three more home runs … and just missed a couple more.
Derrek Lee put the Cubs on the board in the first inning with a long home run to center, his second of the season … the 100th of Lee’s career at Wrigley Field. Marlon Byrd hit a tape measure shot to center in the fourth. His third of the year, a two-run shot, tied the game at four. And not to be outdone, Aramis Ramirez hit his third longball of the young season, a solo shot to left in the sixth that tied the game at five. Each of the Cubs three dingers evened the score on an afternoon the Cubs pitching staff could not keep the Brewers from crossing home plate.
The Cubs never quit on Thursday and came just short of tying the game in the ninth against Trevor Hoffman. But Aramis Ramirez’s bid for a two-run game-tying homer fell into Jim Edmonds’ glove.
Lou Piniella’s pitching staff was less than effective … and that is being kind. The Brewers scored at least one run in seven of the nine innings. Carlos Zambrano could not hold a lead and struggled all afternoon. Any time a team has their number one pitcher on the mound and scores six runs at home, they should win the ballgame.
Zambrano departed after five innings and 121 pitches. Zambrano allowed four runs, three earned, on eight hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. Zambrano committed his third error in as many starts that led to a run in the fourth inning.
Sean Marshall was not as effective as his previous appearances this season in relief of Zambrano. Marshall gave up a pair of hits, hit Prince Fielder and gave up a run on a sacrifice fly by Casey McGehee.
Jeff Samardzija and John Grabow were horrible once again. It will be interesting to see how much longer Samardzija is with the big league club … he simply cannot throw strikes and retire Major League hitters. Samardzija surrendered two runs, a home run by Ryan Braun in the eighth accounted for the second, on two hits with two more walks and a strikeout. Grabow allowed the Brewers to tack on another run in the ninth, committed the Cubs’ third error of the game and gave up two more hits.
Jeff Samardzija should have punched his ticket to Iowa and John Grabow should find himself in the same doghouse as Stevie Ire very soon.
Two former Cubs were the difference on Thursday afternoon for the Brewers offense. Jim Edmonds scored three of the Brewers eight runs in six trips to the plate with a pair of singles and a double. Casey McGehee hit his third homer of the season, a two-run shot in the third off Zambrano, walked twice and added a third RBI with the sac fly in the sixth off of Sean Marshall.
Tyler Colvin got the start in left on Thursday. Colvin finished the game 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.
Derrek Lee was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing a called third strike.
With the loss, the Cubs slipped below .500 on the young season with a 4-5 mark … Carlos Zambrano must work on his consistency. One game he’s solid and the next game he is … not so solid. Unfortunately for the Cubs, he was the latter on Thursday. During the five innings he was on the mound every time the offense seemed to get the momentum back, Zambrano would give up a run.
Ryan Braun drove in the Brewers first run with a one out single to center in the first inning. Jim Edmonds doubled ahead of Braun and scored the game’s first run. Zambrano struck out Prince Fielder swinging but walked Casey McGehee … it was that kind of afternoon for the Cubs “ace“.
Zambrano threw 27 pitches in the first inning.
After Derrek Lee tied the game at one in the home half of the first, Zambrano labored through the second inning. He did not allow any runs but threw 23 pitches, walked a batter and gave up a hit to Gregg Zaun.
Tyler Colvin doubled to start the second. After Marlon Byrd and Mike Fontenot were retired, Geovany Soto hit a smash to left that hit off the vines. Colvin scored easily from third but Soto was thrown out at second to end the inning.
With the Cubs up 2-1, Zambrano walked Ryan Braun to start the third. Big Z struck out Prince Fielder but Casey McGehee ripped a 3-2 pitch into the bleachers in right … 3-2 Brewers.
Jeff Suppan retired the Cubs in order in the third and got his offense back into the dugout … and it paid off.
Jim Edmonds singled with one out in the fourth and advanced to second on a wild pickoff attempt at first base by Zambrano. Why did Zambrano even throw over? Ryan Braun struck out ahead of a two-out single to right by Prince Fielder. The Brewers took a 4-2 lead when Edmonds crossed the plate.
The Cubs two-out production continued on Thursday. Tyler Colvin reached on a two-out single to right center. Marlon Byrd followed and launched a 3-0 pitch from Suppan over the wall in center … his monster shot was estimated at 445′ just to the left of straight away center.
After two trips from Mark O’Neal and one from Lou Piniella, Zambrano struggled through the fifth. He did not allow any runs and left with the game tied at four. Zambrano dealt with his cramping issues once again.
Sean Marshall took the hill to start the sixth. Mike Fontenot made a nice play in foul territory on a ball hit by Rickie Weeks. But Jim Edmonds and Ryan Braun reached on back-to-back singles. Marshall hit Prince Fielder to load the bases with one out.
Casey McGehee gave the Brewers a one-run lead with a sacrifice fly to right center … Jim Edmonds scored, 5-4 Brewers.
Marshall retired Corey Hart to end the inning.
Aramis Ramirez led off the sixth with a game-tying homer to left off of Chris Narveson. Marlon Byrd reached on a one-out hustle doubled ahead of a walk by Geovany Soto. Alfonso Soriano pinch-hit for Marshall and walked to load the bases.
Ryan Theriot stepped in and swung at the first pitch … and grounded out to Narveson to end the inning.
With the game tied at five, Jeff Samardzija took the mound in the seventh and retired the first two batters he faced. It was not pretty but effective.
Pinch-hitter Joe Inglett worked a two-out walk … and scored the eventual game winner. Inglett stole second with Rickie Weeks at the plate then scored on a single to left center by Weeks. Samardzija fell behind Edmonds 3-0 before striking him out to end the inning. Samardzija did not throw a first pitch strike in the seventh … or eighth.
With the Cubs down 7-5 in the ninth after Samardzija served up a solo homer to Ryan Braun, John Grabow could not throw strikes in the ninth. Loaded the bases, committed an error and gave up the Brewers’ eighth run.
The Cubs scored a gift run in the ninth. Ryan Theriot doubled to right over Corey Hart’s head … he lost the ball in the sun. Chad Tracy reached on a two-out sun double and plated Theriot with the Cubs sixth run.
Carlos Silva is slated to pitch the first of three against the Astros on Friday afternoon. Brad Mills, the Astros’ new manager, will send Felipe Paulino to the hill.