Game One Hundred Four – Cubs 0 Brewers 2
WP – Zack Greinke (8-4) LP – Carlos Zambrano (7-6) Save – John Axford (29)
Zack Greinke and the Brewers’ pen blanked the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night. The Cubs offense managed only four hits and three walks and have not scored a run since the first inning of Tuesday’s game (17 scoreless innings).
The Cubs looked overmatched against Greinke as he kept the Cubs off balance all night. Greinke tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings, allowed three hits, three walks and struck out nine. Greinke threw a season-high 123 pitches, 74 for strikes. In two appearances against the Cubs this season, Greinke has struck out 19.
The Cubs four hits on the night: Starlin Castro (single in the first), Carlos Pena (double in the fourth), Carlos Zambrano (single in the fifth) and Kosuke Fukudome (single in the eighth). That was it. The Cubs put two runners on base in just one inning … the fourth.
Prince Fielder hit a solo shot off Zambrano in the second and Yuniesky Betancourt drove in Milwaukee’s second run on a sac fly to right following a double by Casey McGehee (2-for-3 with a double) that advanced pinch-runner Craig Counsell to third base with one out.
Carlos Zambrano’s final line was better than he pitched. Z labored through the second and third innings and thanks to bad baserunning by Corey Hart, the Brewers scored only two runs. Zambrano allowed two runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings. Z walked two and struck out three on 100 pitches, 65 for strikes.
James Russell retired the only batter he faced and Kerry Wood threw a perfect eighth inning.
With Wednesday’s loss, the Cubs dropped back to 20 games below .500 with a 42-62 record … Carlos Zambrano’s night began with a very efficient 1-2-3 first inning. Z was sharp and threw only eight pitches, seven for strikes.
After the Cubs did basically nothing against Zack Greinke in the second (two-out walk by Soto), Prince Fielder gave the Brewers a 1-0 lead with an opposite field homer on a 1-2 pitch. Z’s pitch was around Fielder’s collarbone and the very strong first baseman drove it over the wall in left.
Rickie Weeks hit Z’s next pitch to Castro at short. For some reason, Castro paused then tried to throw Weeks out. Weeks made an awkward lunge at the base and ended up twisting his ankle. Weeks was given an infield single but had to be helped off the field. Craig Counsell ran for Weeks and advanced to third on a double to left off the bat of Casey McGehee.
With runners on second and third with no outs, Yuniesky Betancourt flied out to right on a 1-2 pitch. Counsell tagged and scored the Brewers’ second run. McGehee took third on the play. Jonathan Lucroy hit a 1-2 pitch to Ramirez, McGehee was caught in a rundown and was eventually tagged out (5-2-6). Lucroy slid in safe at second but was stranded when Greinke fouled out to Soto to end the inning.
Zambrano struggled again in the third and horrible baserunning by Corey Hart kept the Brewers from tacking on. Zambrano walked Hart to start the inning after getting ahead 0-2 early in the at bat. Nyjer Morgan doubled down the right field line. Hart held at third with no outs.
With the infield back, Ryan Braun hit a grounder to Castro at short. Hart did not break as Braun yelled at him to run as he was jogging to first. Castro threw out Braun then Z intentionally walked Fielder to load the bases.
Craig Counsell popped out to second and McGehee grounded out to third to end the inning.
Carlos Pena recorded the Cubs second hit in the fourth … and just missed a home run. Pena doubled off the wall in right center with two outs. Marlon Byrd worked the Cubs second walk of the game. With two on and two out, Geovany Soto was caught looking at a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.
Z retired the Brewers in order in the fourth … after four, Z’s pitch count stood at 54, 36 for strikes.
Carlos Zambrano singled with two outs in the fifth. Craig Counsell took away a hit from Kosuke Fukudome on a ball ticketed for center. Counsell flipped to Betancourt to end the inning.
Z sat down the Brewers in order in the fifth … at that point Zambrano had retired eight in a row.
With the Brewers up by two, Casey McGehee singled to right center with two outs in the sixth. Zambrano struck out Betancourt looking to end the inning.
Blake DeWitt worked the Cubs third walk of the night with two outs in the seventh to chase Zack Greinke from the game. Takashi Saito came in and retired Barney on a ground out to second.
Carlos Zambrano’s night ended with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Jonathan Lucroy singled to left on a 0-2 pitch to start the inning. George Kottaras, the Brewers backup catcher, pinch-hit for Saito and bunted Lucroy to second. Corey Hart flied out to deep right, Lucroy tagged and advanced to third.
Mike Quade made the slow walk and took the ball from Zambrano. Z lobbied to stay in the game and asked for one more batter. But Quade stuck to his guns and took the ball from Z. Zambrano left the mound shaking his head.
James Russell retired Nyjer Morgan to end the inning.
Kosuke Fukudome recorded the Cubs’ fourth hit with one out in the eighth against Francisco Rodriguez. After Starlin Castro flied out to right center, Aramis Ramirez just missed tying the game with a deep fly to the wall in left to end the inning.
Kerry Wood tossed a perfect eighth … and the Cubs went down in order in the ninth against John Axford.
Back to twenty below … Maybe, just maybe the last two days will force Jim Hendry and his staff to realize the roster they assembled is not capable of playing winning baseball. Why can’t Jim Hendry see what his wrong with his team like the rest of baseball can?
Randy Wells is scheduled to face Shaun Marcum in the series finale on Thursday afternoon.