Game Twenty-Two – Cubs 2 Nationals 3
WP – Luis Atilano (2-0) LP – Ryan Dempster (2-1) Save – Matt Capps (10)
The Cubs fell to 4-5 on the year at Wrigley and two games under .500 after a brutal performance from Lou Piniella’s offense on Wednesday. The Cubs managed only three runs in the final two games of the series but unlike Tuesday night, the Cubs had plenty of opportunities on Wednesday.
The Cubs put the leadoff runner on base in six of the nine innings and only two of those runners scored … both in the first two innings. The offense finished an embarrassing 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left a total of 11 on base … in a one-run loss.
Any time a team receives a performance at home like Ryan Dempster’s on Wednesday they must win the game. Ryan Dempster made mistakes and admitted as much after the game. Dempster said he should have done a better job and used pitching to Wil Nieves with a runner in scoring position and two outs in the second inning as the example. Dempster and Piniella decided to pitch to the eighth place hitter in the Nats order with first base open and a rookie pitcher on deck. The decision cost them a run when Nieves singled to center on a 3-2 offering.
Adam Kennedy and Adam Dunn accounted for two of the four hits Dempster allowed on the afternoon … unfortunately both left the park and Dunn’s opposite field homer in the fourth ended up being the difference in the game.
Ryan Dempster turned in his longest outing of the year … and another quality start. Dempster allowed three runs on four hits with a walk and six strikeouts in eight complete. Dempster threw just 98 pitches.
Ryan Theriot notched another multi-hit game and extended his hitting streak to eight games. Theriot singled and scored in the first on a sacrifice fly by Aramis Ramirez. Then Theriot drove in Mike Fontenot on a two-out single to center in the second inning.
Marlon Byrd made a great catch on a ball hit by Luis Atilano in the fifth. Byrd appeared to lose the ball in the sun. Byrd went down to one knee then caught the ball behind his back.
Lou Piniella made a couple of questionable decisions on Wednesday. Besides allowing Dempster to pitch to Wil Nieves in the second that cost the Cubs a run, Piniella had Mike Fontenot swing away in the eighth down by a run with no outs following a leadoff double by Marlon Byrd.
Fontenot popped out to short left and Piniella was asked about it following the game.
“Bunting what?” Piniella said. “With a left-handed hitter up, you want to bunt? What kind of baseball you play? Really, what kind of baseball do you play? How about getting (the runner) in, or getting him over by swinging?” Piniella replied. “How about that?”
Just when it seemed the Cubs were about to turn the corner with leaving wins on base, the Cubs could not by a clutch hit on Wednesday … The Cubs two runs came in the first two innings. Ryan Theriot led off the bottom of the first with a single to center. Kosuke Fukudome walked with the Cubs down by one run. Derrek Lee flied out to right and Theriot advanced to third.
Aramis Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly to left center on a 1-1 pitch from Atilano. Theriot tagged and scored … game tied at one.
Tyler Colvin reached on an error by Adam Kennedy on a high pop up on the infield. Kosuke Fukudome did not run it out and stopped at second base. With runners on first and second with two outs, Marlon Byrd flied out to right to end the inning.
Mike Fontenot led off the second with a single to right. Koyie Hill grounded out to second, Fontenot advanced to second on the ball. Ryan Dempster lined out but Theriot tied the game at two with a single to center.
The final score in both of Ryan Dempster’s no decisions and Wednesday’s loss, his first of the year, was 3-2.
Ted Lilly will face Ian Kennedy in the first of four against the Diamondbacks on Thursday afternoon.