Game Forty-Two – Cubs 4 Phillies 5
WP – Danys Baez (2-1) LP – John Grabow (0-3) Save – Jose Contreras (2)
Splitting a series in Philadelphia should be considered a successful trip but the Cubs gave one away Thursday afternoon.
Typically a game is decided by one or two plays … or decisions. Thursday’s outcome was no different as Lou Piniella and Ryan Dempster defied logic.
Granted the Cubs had a chance to tie or take the lead in the ninth inning against Jose Contreras. Alfonso Soriano was hit on the 11th pitch of the at bat to start the inning. Then Mike Fontenot blooped a 3-2 pitch into centerfield, Soriano advanced to third with no outs.
Starlin Castro struck out swinging on three pitches. Aramis Ramirez did the same … but on a ball two feet out of the strike zone. Ramirez takes the 3-2 pitch from Contreras … well, no one will ever know. Geovany Soto fouled out to Ryan Howard to end the game. But it was decisions by Piniella and Dempster that figured large in the outcome.
First, Dempster is serving up an alarming amount of longballs, especially late in his outing. Jimmy Rollins should have been intentionally walked after Dempster fell behind 3-0 to the Phillies’ shortstop. Rollins deposited Dempster’s next pitch over the wall in right and gave the Phillies a 4-1 lead in the sixth. Rollins’ dinger was the eighth served up by Dempster this season.
After the Cubs battled back and tied the game 4-4 on solo home runs by Derrek Lee, his first since April 25, and Kosuke Fukudome and a sacrifice fly by Tyler Colvin, Piniella sent Jeff Stevens out to start the eighth. Stevens did his job and retired Placido Polanco but Piniella brought in John Grabow to face the heart of the Phillies order …
John Grabow walked Chase Utley but retired Ryan Howard on one pitch … a fly out to center. Grabow could not find the strike zone again and walked Jimmy Rollins. The second free pass put the go ahead run on second with two outs.
Raul Ibanez delivered the eventual knockout punch … a single to right on a 2-1 pitch. Kosuke Fukudome double-clutched before throwing wide of the plate. Utley slid in with the go ahead run.
Lou Piniella keeps running out John Grabow with the game on the line and expecting different results …
The Cubs’ offense was overly aggressive against Joe Blanton. Blanton took a no-hitter into the fifth. Blanton handled the Cubs over the first four innings and threw only 36 pitches.
After Ryan Howard lost a foul ball in the sun, Alfonso Soriano doubled in the fifth and scored on one-out single to right center by Starlin Castro … the Cubs first two hits of the game.
Thursday’s loss ended the Cubs’ four-game winning streak and dropped them back to four games under .500 (19-23) for the season … Ryan Dempster made only two big mistakes in his six innings of work. Unfortunately both left the ballpark. When the Phillies took pitches, Dempster pitched from behind in the count most of the game. Dempster allowed four runs on five hits in six innings with two walks and three strikeouts.
Chase Utley gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Utley ripped a 0-1 pitch from Dempster over the wall in right. Utley’s 10th longball of the year … and the seventh served up by Ryan Dempster.
Dempster kept the Phillies off the board and gave his team a chance until the sixth.
Placido Polanco doubled down the left field line with one out in the sixth. Dempster walked Chase Utley. With the game tied at one, Ryan Howard flied out to right center. Both runners tagged and advanced ninety feet.
Jimmy Rollins stepped in a looked a three straight out of the strike zone. Dempster should have put Rollins on and start fresh with Raul Ibanez … but he did not. Rollins ripped Dempster’s next pitch into the stands in right … 4-1 Phillies after six.
Derrek Lee led off the seventh and hit a no-doubter over the wall in left. Blanton’s 55th pitch of the game left the ballpark rather quickly.
Alfonso Soriano walked on four pitches then advanced to second on a single to left by Mike Fontenot. Starlin Castro loaded the bases with an infield single to third. With the bases loaded, one out and the Cubs down by two, Tyler Colvin hit for Koyie Hill. Colvin drove Blanton’s first pitch to center. Soriano tagged and scored … 4-3 Phillies.
Xavier Nady pinch-hit for Ryan Dempster and popped out to Jimmy Rollins on the first pitch to end the inning.
Kosuke Fukudome hit his sixth homer of the year to start the eighth. Fukudome launched the first pitch from southpaw Antonio Bastardo into the stands in right. Game tied at four …
Thursday was a tough loss for a team struggling to figure out how to consistently win ballgames.
The Cubs begin Interleague play Friday night in Texas … Ted Lilly against Colby Lewis in game one of the three-game series.