Lilly tough-luck loser vs. Reds
Southpaw strikes out 10, allows two hits over six innings
CHICAGO -- Sometime this summer, Ted Lilly will struggle in a game yet still get a win because the offense picked him up. That'll even things after Sunday.
Cincinnati's Kyle Lohse outdueled Lilly, striking out a career-high 12 batters, as the Reds edged the Cubs, 1-0, to take the weekend series.
Lohse escaped two jams, the key one in the sixth. Alfonso Soriano doubled to lead off and reached third on Ryan Theriot's single. Third-base coach Mike Quade held Soriano at third, which made sense. After all, the Cubs had Jacque Jones, Derrek Lee and Michael Barrett coming up.
"First and third with your 3-4-5 hitters coming up, that should be automatic," Barrett said. "Without making excuses, that guy on the mound did his job. He made unbelievable pitches to Jacque Jones. It wasn't that Jacque Jones had a bad at-bat. For [Lohse] to make those pitches in that situation, it's unfortunate. You tip your hat.
"Derrek Lee is our best hitter, and he was looking for a pitch to hit and drive," Barrett said. "We weren't looking for a three-run homer. We're looking to do what Ryan Theriot did. We're all in the game, and thinking as a team, Ryan's got a great approach. [Lohse] just made better pitches against Jacque and Derrek Lee."
Jones struck out swinging in the sixth, Lee was called out on strikes, and Barrett flew out to right to end the inning and contribute to the frustration.
"You've got to put the ball in play," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "Put the ball in play, you've got a run. That's really your job. Put the ball in play, and if they turn a double play, you've got a run and the game's tied."
Lilly (1-1) deserved better. The left-hander struck out 10 and gave up one run on two hits and one walk over six innings. This was his ninth career double-digit strikeout game and first since last June 10, when he fanned 12 for Toronto against Detroit.
"One run in six innings from your starter, you'll take that every time," Piniella said. "He pitched a good ballgame."
Barrett admitted he was a little concerned about how Lilly would fare since he was following Rich Hill, another lefty, who had thrown seven scoreless innings in Saturday's 7-0 Cubs win.
"We had to do things a little differently today," Barrett said. "To Ted's credit, he was able to locate a couple different pitches that were different from his normal repertoire that offset him having the same stuff as Rich."
Lohse (1-0) simply pitched better than Lilly. He topped his previous strikeout high of nine, which he had done twice in his career, most recently Sept. 13, 2003, against Cleveland. The Reds right-hander gave up four hits and one walk over eight innings to shut out the Cubs for the first time this season. On April 5 against the Cubs, Lohse had fanned three over 6 1/3 innings in his first start of the year.
Theriot was the only Cub who had Lohse figured out, going 3-for-4. He may get more playing time because of his good approach. The others need to figure out what he's doing.
"I have a hard time being upset with our hitting today," Lee said. "You're not going to face a pitcher who pitched as good as [Lohse] today. Sometimes you've got to tip your cap, and today was one of them."
The Reds got all the runs Lohse needed in the fourth. Brandon Phillips walked to lead off and stole second, Lilly then struck out Josh Hamilton, and Piniella trotted out to the mound. The manager wanted to remind Lilly to watch the runner because he felt the Reds would be running. They were. Phillips broke for third as Jeff Conine singled to left, and Phillips scored.
"Some of the things I could've done, they aren't really physical things," Lilly said. "I was going back and forth with being too focused on the runner and vice versa. That run ended up coming around and scoring."
"Look, that's not what beat us," Piniella said of the minor mental lapse. "What beat us was we didn't put any runs on the board, and we left runners on first and third with no outs in the sixth. That's what beat us. Our pitcher gives up one run ... you should win that baseball game."
The Cubs' offense is scuffling a bit. None of the outfielders have a home run -- in fact, the team has totaled five, including two by Mark DeRosa.
"We're going to score," Lee said. "We're too good not to. Obviously, we'd like to be doing it now, especially when you get a pitching performance like Ted, but Kyle Lohse was good today. This offense is going to score, no question."
The Cubs celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on Sunday with four players -- Lee, Jones, Cliff Floyd and Daryle Ward -- plus coaches Gerald Perry and Lester Strode wearing No. 42. Lee, Jones and Floyd were in the starting lineup, and all of the players and coaches wore their socks high as Robinson did when he played. Several fans in the crowd of 39,820 wore No. 42 jerseys to honor Robinson, who broke the color barrier in the Major Leagues 60 years ago.
Floyd had hoped to celebrate more postgame.
"It's never easy to lose," Floyd said. "That's the good thing about this team. We don't let a couple losses let us down. Thank God it's only April, because you can't keep thinking that way. Complacency will kill you. We've got too good of a team to be, in my opinion, in this position. Hopefully, things will turn around, because I'm not looking forward to any long summers of not coming to the park for something to play for."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.