A lousy Chad Billingsley start and horrendous middle relief did the Dodgers in today in a 5-4 loss to the last place Chicago Cubs in game one of the three game series in the Dodgers only trip to Wrigley Field. The Dodgers rallied to score three runs late, plating one in the seventh and two in the eighth, but unfortunately it was too little too late. Before the game we learned that the Dodgers had signed outfielder Bobby Abreu to a one year deal and optioned Justin Sellers back to the minors. Abreu was in uniform, and he went 0 for 2 in his first game in Dodger Blue. This loss had nothing to do with Abreu though. Bills stunk, and Mattingly used Scott Elbert and Todd Coffey to try and get through the late innings. Not surprisingly both pitchers were terrible.
The game started off bad right away. The Dodgers had trouble hitting Paul Maholm, who picked up the win, pitching six innings of one run on four hit ball, while walking none, and whiffing four. Bills in contrast struggled all day, allowing four runs on eight hits, although he didn’t pitch that bad. It was the bumpen that came in and made things worse. I knew it was going to be a bad day when Dee Gordon was thrown out trying to bunt leading off the game. Someone needs to teach Dee Gordon how to bunt properly or tell him to stop it. I can’t even begin to describe to you how big my disdain is for bunting.
The Cubs scored two runs off of Bills right off the bat in the bottom of the first inning off two singles and a double. David DeJesus leads off with a double. He is advanced to second on a ground out, and he scores on a Starlin Castro single to left. After Bryan Lahair grounds out, Alfonso Soriano singles in DeJesus, and the Cubs lead 2-0.
The Dodgers get on the board in the top of the third when Jerry Hairston hits his first home run as a Dodger. The score is now 2-1. Hairston had a great game going 3 for 4 with a home run, a triple, and two RBI. He also made another great defensive play which saved a couple of runs from scoring. It wasn’t enough to give us a win though. The Cubs put across another run in the bottom of the fourth. Darwin Barney gets a leg double off a hit into center. Two outs later, David DeJesus, who really screwed us in this game, triples over Kemp’s head to score Barney and to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
Move to the bottom of the sixth. Little known bench dweller Joe Mather takes a Bills hanging slider deep into the left field bleachers for only his second home run of the season. This extends the Cubs lead to 4-1. Bills really stunk it up today. His mechanics were all over the place, and his slider was crap.
The Dodgers didn’t get anything going on offense until the top of the seventh. The Dodgers only had four hits through the first six innings today. Chicago brings in James Russell in relief. Ethier doubles down the right field line. Juan Rivera flies out. Uribe’s ground out advances Dre to third. Hairston, also known as the man, or JHair, triples into the right field corner. 4-2 Chicago. Sean Camp is called in from the Chicago bullpen. He walks A.J. Ellis. With runners at first and third, Bobby Abreu comes off the bench to hit for the pitcher’s spot. Abreu whiffs on a called third strike. Sigh, not a good first at-bat, Bobby.
Here is where our horrible middle relief comes back to bite us in the butt. Mattingly calls in Scott Elbert to pitch the bottom of the seventh. Elbert are only left hander in the bumpen, has been completely ineffective. Tony Campana walks to lead off but is thrown out trying to steal second base on a very good throw from A.J. Ellis. Castro and Lahair reach on consecutive singles. Enter in bum #2, Todd Coffey. The big right hander is predictably terrible again. With Soriano at the plate, Castro steals third base without a throw. Soriano doubles in Castro and sends Lahair to third. This makes it a 5-2 game. After Ian Stewart is walked intentionally, Barney whiffs, and Geovany Soto flies out to end the frame.
The Dodgers would get two more runs in the eighth to make it close. Kerry Wood, fresh off the DL, is brought in to pitch. Yes this is the same Kerry Wood who once struck out 20 batters in a game. Dee Gordon grounds out. Mark Ellis walks. Matt Kemp triples off the ivy wall in right field. 5-3 Chicago.
Andre Ethier’s sacrifice fly scores Bison, to make it a one run game 5-4. Rivera flies out to end the inning. Rivera is really making me look bad after I have been defending him to people calling for his job. Josh Lindblom shows Elbert and Coffey how it’s done by retiring the side in the bottom of the eighth while whiffing two. Move to the top of the ninth.
Apparently Carlos Marmol has been sucking so bad of late that Chicago had demoted him from the closer role. So rookie Rafael Dolis comes in to close out the game. Tony Gwynn batting for Lindblom lines out. Hairston who only needed a double for the cycle grounds out. A.J. is hit by a pitch, and he comes out for a pinch-runner. Not to worry, he was fine. Chicago Manager Dale Sveum comes out to argue that Ellis didn’t try to get out of the way, or the ball didn’t hit him? I’m not sure, but the umps toss him from the game. That didn’t matter much since there was two outs in the top of the ninth. Bobby Abreu comes up for his second at-bat as a Dodger after being double switched into left field. Abreu gets a good swing on the ball, but flies out deep to right field. I thought he had a good swing on the ball, and thought for a minute that it might hit the gap, but alas, it did not.
David DeJesus was the star of the game for the Cubs. DeJesus was 3 for 4 with a double, triple, run scored, and one run driven in. Soriano also had a good game, going 3 for 3 with two RBIs.
I know that over the course of the season we are going to drop a few games to bad teams here and there. Hey even then worst team in the league is still going to win 60-65 games at the least. Still, the Cubs are in last place for a reason. They suck. Losing to the Cubs is still embarrassing no matter when it is during the season.
The Dodgers will try to get back to their winning ways tomorrow with another early game. We hope you will be with us tomorrow for our daily Dodger coverage. It’s clear our main problem right now is our poor middle relief. Another big problem is our only left hander in the bullpen has been completely ineffective. We need to get some more bullpen help. Todd Coffey needs to be cut, and Scott Elbert needs to be optioned down to triple-A. Ronald Belisario was in uniform today and was available but did not pitch. Don Mattingly has said he will use Belisario like the way he used Jansen last season, and should be using Jansen this season as an “outman.” We’ll see how that works. The pitching match-up for tomorrow will see Chris Capuano going for his fourth win of the season, and the Cubs will counter with Matt Garza. Until tomorrow Dodger fans. Go Blue!