Monday, September 8, 2008

Completely Useless? - Cubs 3 Reds 4

Game One Hundred Forty-Three - Cubs 3 Reds 4
WP - Francisco Cordero (5-4) LP - Kerry Wood (4-4, BS 6) Save - None

While Saturday's win ended the Cubs 6-game losing streak, Sunday's loss erased the memory of the victory as the Cubs returned to the formula that has seen them drop 7 of their last 8 games. There are no excuses the Cubs can make for losing, not only the game....but the series to the Reds. The last 3 games magnified all of the problems since the calendar turned to September. Poor defense, lack of clutch hitting and wasting strong performances by their starting pitchers.

The Cubs offense struggled against Aaron Harang but managed to put 3 runs on the board in 6 innings off of 7 hits. The Cubs left 10 on base on the afternoon and could not capitalize on the extra opportunities Reds pitching gave them.

The Cubs first run scored in the 4th inning on a double play off the bat of Geovany Soto. The Cubs loaded the bases with no outs but came away with only the one run. Ronny Cedeno doubled in Geovany Soto in the 7th that gave the Cubs a 1-run lead. Mike Fontenot followed with a sacrifice fly to right that plated Mark DeRosa with the Cubs third run.

Sean Marshall turned in a great performance. He allowed 1 run on 3 hits in 6 innings with 2 walks and 5 strikeouts. Neal Cotts and Carlos Marmol kept the Reds off the board and did not allow a hit in 2 combined innings of work. Lou Piniella's crew took the field in the bottom of the 9th up 3-1 with Kerry Wood on the mound for the first time since Tuesday.

Edwin Encarnacion reached on a bloop single to center and advanced to 2nd on an error by Jim Edmonds. Edmonds over ran the ball and allowed Encarnacion to advance into scoring position. Kerry Wood walked Jay Bruce on 5 pitches. Ryan Hanigan attempted to sacrifice bunt the tying runs into scoring position but bunted the ball too hard and Derrek Lee threw out Encarnacion at 3rd for the first out of the inning.

Javier Valentin, another long-time Cub killer, pinch-hit for Corey Patterson and worked a walk to load the bases after falling behind 0-2. Wilkin Castillo ran for Valentin and Chris Dickerson stepped in with the bases loaded and 1 out.

On a 2-2 pitch from Wood, Dickerson hit a bouncer up the middle. Ronny Cedeno moved to his left and then took his eye off the ball. What should have been a game ending double play, or at the very least the inning's second out, turned into an error. Jay Bruce and Ryan Hanigan scored the tying runs....Cedeno's error was changed to a double for Dickerson after the game.

With runners on 2nd and 3rd and only 1 out, Jolbert Cabrera then gave the Reds the win with a hard single to left. Cabrera threw his hands in the air, Kerry Wood screamed obscenities and appeared to make a mental note of the celebration.

Two errors and two walks led to the loss. Fielders must catch the ball and pitchers must throw strikes in the 9th inning of a game....especially in September.

The Cubs completed their worst 8-game stretch of the season with an embarrassing loss in Cincinnati and finished the season series with the Reds with 8 wins out of 15 games. With the loss by the Brewers in Milwaukee on Sunday the Cubs will spend the off day traveling to St. Louis with a 4-game lead in the division and still with the best record in the National League.

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