Monday, August 1, 2011

Cubs 5 D-Lee 3

The Bucs have taken their lumps on the last road trip; now they hope to string together some wins and get back into the dogfight.

Paul Maholm put the Cubbies down quickly - try six pitches - in the first. Grounder to short, Starlin Castro single up the middle, and a Jeff Baker 6-4-3 to wrap up the frame.

McCutch got ahead of Carlos Zambrano 3-0, but the big guy came back to get him swinging at a slider upstairs. Staying away from Garrett Jones, the Z-Man walked him on a 3-2 cutter. Going after a first pitch sinker, Neil Walker flew out to center. D-Lee's first at-bat as a Bucco wasn't one to write home about; he went down swinging at a slider. But he'd pick it later.

Geovany Soto got ahead 3-0; Maholm came back to run the count full and then lost him. PM struck out Marlin Byrd on three pitches, getting him to chase a slider down and in. Alphonso Soriano K'ed swinging at the same pitch. Staying outside to Pirate trade target Carlos Pena, Maholm walked him on five pitches. Darwin Barney ran the count to 3-2, including a change in the dirt that eluded Mike McKenry for a wild pitch to move up the runners, before getting him on a short fly to right. The first inning mastery deserted PM; he threw 28 pitches in the second.

A jet-lagged Ryan Ludwick opened the Bucco second, and he drew a five pitch walk. Pedro bounced a changeup to first, and Pena turned it into a 3-6-1 DP. Cedeno went down looking on three pitches, the last a slider that froze him.

Zambrano led off the third with a bounce out to second, followed by Reed Johnson getting plunked. Castro lined a changeup into left for a double, putting runners at second and third. Baker lifted a fastball into left for a sac fly to plate Johnson. Soto went down on a fastball, but it was 1-0 Cubbies going into the bottom of the third.

McKenry got a 3-1 heater and lined it into left where Soriano gloved it. Maholm bounced back to the box on a 3-2 pitch. McCutch again got ahead 3-0, looked at two strikes and laid off a curve to walk. The count went full to Jones too, and he knocked a curve toward of the Notch for the third out.

Byrd fell behind 0-2 and drilled one to Cedeno, who made the pick. Soriano flew out routinely to center. Pena hit one short of the track in right center, and PM had his first clean frame.

Walker K'ed swinging at a high 3-2 heater to start the Pirate fourth. The Z-Man worked Lee on the outside corner and down; he left a curve drift to the middle of the plate, knee high, and watched it disappear into the left field stands for D-Lee's 13th of the season. Ludwick K'ed on a 3-2 cutter that he foul tipped. Pedro bounced a first pitch heater up the middle for a knock. Cedeno followed by sending a sinker into center. McKenry fell behind 0-2; Pedro started daydreaming and Zambrano picked him off second. After four, it was a 1-1 ball game.

Barney flew out to open the fifth, and Zambrano followed with a hard single to third that Pedro knocked down but couldn't finish. Johnson beat an 0-2 heater to El Toro; he finished this one by starting an around the horn DP.

Given new life this frame, McKenry singled to third on a well hit ball that Baker couldn't handle. PM tried a bunt; he rolled it back to the box and McKenry was forced at second. McCutch caught a 3-2 changeup, but it was hauled in on the track at the Notch, the deepest part of the park. Jones was credited with an inning ending single when his grounder headed into right hit Maholm. Tough inning for PM and the Bucs, with a lot of barreled balls to no avail. It's still 1-1 at the end of five innings.

Castro collected his third knock of the night when he rolled a ball through the left side. Jeff Baker followed with another ground knock up the middle to put runners at first and second. Soto turned on an inside fastball and drove into left for a double to score Castro, and Byrd was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Soriano rolled one to short; the Bucs got the force at second as Baker scored. It was potentially a DP ball, but Cedeno couldn't get it cleanly out of his glove. Pena took a fastball just short of the track in left for a sac fly and one more Cubbie run. Going into the Buc half of the sixth, it was 4-1 Chicago.

The Bucs sent the middle of the order up to try to get back into the game. Walker started it off with an infield single to short. Lee popped out on a jam shot. Ludwick hit a thigh high, inside corner heater that was corralled at the track in left. Pedro singled into right, moving Walker to second. Cedeno worked the count full, but bit on a slider down and rolled it to short to end the frame.

Maholm called it a night. He went six innings, giving up four runs on six hits with three walks, a hit batter and three K's, throwing 97 pitches.

The Z-Man was done after 114 pitches too, and Tony Campana came on to bat against new pitcher Jason Grilli. He tried to bunt his way on; Pedro threw him out. Johnson tapped back to the box and Castro struck out swinging at a heater. Jeff Samardzija took the hill for Chicago.

Mckenry flew out to right to start the seventh and Paul followed with a short fly to center. McCutch knocked one into left to keep the frame alive. That brought on lefty Sean Marshall to face Jones, who was pulled for Steve Pearce. The wheels, they are a'turning. Mike Quade's wheels spun a little better. Pearce had a weak at-bat and dribbled a swinging bunt on a curve; he was thrown out by the catcher.

D-Mac came on to work the eighth. Brian McKnight, the plate ump, squeezed the dish on him and Baker drew a 3-2 walk. McCutchen came back to get the next three outs routinely. But the Bucs are running out of time.

Kerry Wood replaced Marshall. Walker knocked his first pitch into the Notch for a lead off double. Lee did Walker one better; he knocked the first pitch he saw over the center field wall. Now it's getting interesting. Two of the next three Pirates K'ed on sliders, but it was 4-3 after eight. (The fans tried to get D-Lee out for a curtain call, but he's been around the block and has the baseball class to stay in the dugout when his club's behind.)

D-Mac stayed on and walked Pena. He was forced at second on a nice play by Lee of Barney's bunt. Pinch hitter Tyler Colvin popped out to Pedro. But on an 0-2 pitch to Johnson, D-Mac threw a slider right down the heart of the dish and watched it rattle of the left field fence and die on the track when Ludwick couldn't cut it off, chasing Barney home with a big insurance run. Castro went down swinging at a heater, but it was a batter late. 5-3 Chicago with three outs to go.

The Bucs had their 8-9-1 hitters due up, and the Cubs had Carlos Marmol on the mound. McKenry bounced out to first, Paul rolled out to second on a 3-2 slider - that's all he saw - and McCutch went down waving at a slider.

The Bucs are now in a 3-9 tailspin, and they really need a starter to pick them up. Since Clint Hurdle won't use Hanny outside of a save situation, the Pirate bullpen is basically a man short and being badly overextended inning-wise, with too many middle relievers are pitching in high leverage situations. That's why the FO was looking for another backender before the deadline. Hey, pitching brung them where they're at, and it'll have to return to its former glory if the Pirates are going to make a run in the division.

Randy Wells goes against Kevin Correia tomorrow night.

  • Derrek Lee became the first Pirate to homer in his Bucco debut since Matt Morris in 2007. He's the first to hit a pair in his first game since Shawon Dunston in 1997.
  • After being outhit in twelve straight games, the Bucs ended up on the right side of that column (10-7) tonight, for what it's worth.
  • Neil Walker has a hit in all 19 games he's played against Chicago in his young career. McCutch has reached base safely in 25 straight games against the Cubs.
  • 22,248 fans watched tonight's game.
  • Jeff Clement has moved to Indy to continue his rehab. With Matt Hague raking at first, he'll mostly DH and pinch hit.
  • Freddy Sanchez will have shoulder surgery; that will end his season and puts his career in some doubt.

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