Cubs fall in extras in Pie's debut
Rookie outfielder does a little of everything in loss to Padres
CHICAGO -- Will Ohman is looking forward to the day when reporters don't want to talk to him. Felix Pie is eager to stay long enough to get to know everyone.
Ohman served up a RBI double to Geoff Blum with one out in the 14th inning Tuesday as the San Diego Padres edged the Cubs, 4-3, in a game Pie won't forget.
With the game tied at 3 in the Padres 14th, Khalil Greene doubled over Ryan Theriot in right to lead off against Ohman (0-1). One out later, Blum, who had a game-winning hit in the 14th inning of Game 3 of the 2005 World Series for the White Sox, hit the ball into the left-field corner. Greene scored easily. Game over.
"I'm hoping this will be the last time I get to talk to you guys," Ohman said, "because when I do my job, you ignore me."
Such is the life of the middle reliever. As for Pie, he made quite a first impression, hitting an RBI double in the fifth, then scoring the tying run on Derrek Lee's single, and throwing out a potential game-winning run at home in the 10th. It was his first Major League hit, RBI, run, and assist. The rookie will want to get a video of this one.
"No, I felt fine," Pie said when asked if he was nervous in his Major League debut. "I feel like I'm playing in my hometown."
The Cubs had promoted Pie from Triple-A Iowa to give them an extra outfielder while Alfonso Soriano nurses a strained left hamstring. Soriano managed to convince the Cubs not to place him on the disabled list, and said he didn't expect to miss more than four or five days.
"I think I'll be ready before two weeks," said Soriano, who optimistically thought he could be hitting on Wednesday in Atlanta. He injured his leg making a diving catch Monday night.
"Who knows? It depends on how I feel," he said. "It's not a big problem. It's only a problem running. I'm aggressive, and that's part of my game."
How the Cubs will make room for both Soriano and Pie in the Cubs outfield will be determined at a later date. Maybe manager Lou Piniella will ask Cliff Floyd. In the Chicago 14th, pitcher Jason Marquis came in to pinch-run for Daryle Ward, who was a defensive replacement in the 12th in a double-switch. If the Cubs had tied the game, who would've played first?
"I told Floyd to figure it out -- that was his job," Piniella said.
"I don't know," Floyd said. "I was sitting down there chilling, hoping we win this thing. He came up to me and said, 'Figure it out.'"
The pregame roster move left the Cubs with 11 pitchers, because they sent right-hander Angel Guzman to Triple-A Iowa to make room for Pie.
"What went into the decision? We needed a roster spot to bring Pie up," Piniella said.
One thing the Cubs do know is that Pie's got an arm. In the Padres 10th, pinch-hitter Russell Branyan walked and Marcus Giles singled against Bob Howry, moving Branyan to second. Brian Giles then singled to center, but Pie threw a perfect strike home to catcher Michael Barrett to get Branyan.
"It was real heads up on his part," Barrett said. "He was very aggressive and [with] a lot of accuracy. Awesome play. It was straight in the air -- I think they clocked it at 105 [mph] on the radar."
Second baseman Mark DeRosa added a Web gem of his own in the 12th when he made an outstretched grab of Marcus Giles' line drive to end the inning and strand a runner. Blum could've been the hero earlier when he entered as a pinch-hitter in the ninth with the bases loaded, but Scott Eyre got him to fly out to right.
Greg Maddux started the 4-hour, 15-minute marathon for the Padres. Maddux, who celebrated his 41st birthday Saturday, did not get a decision, obviously, after giving up three runs on six hits and one walk over five innings. When he left, the game was tied at 3. He remained on hold with 334 career wins.
Pie faced the future Hall of Famer in his first at-bat, but no butterflies.
"I wasn't very nervous because I faced him in Spring Training," Pie said. "I know how he throws. I'm a little excited because it's my first time in the big leagues, but I'm not nervous because I'm facing Greg Maddux."
Asked if there was anyone he might be a little leary of facing, Pie smiled.
"Nah -- I'll be fine," he said.
Wade Miller, who has made two starts in 13 games, started for the Cubs, and could probably use more regular work. He walked four in the game, and wasn't too happy with home-plate umpire Chris Guccione's strike zone. After walking Kevin Kouzmanoff in the third to load the bases, he said something to the umpire. Catcher Henry Blanco stepped between the two, and Piniella then went to the mound to chat with Miller, who exited after throwing 98 pitches over five innings.
"I was able to settle down after that, and I knew what I had to do, which was throw strikes and keep it down," Miller said.
This was the Cubs' first extra-inning game of the season, and first 14-inning game since Sept. 30, when they went 14 against Colorado. Pie has to convince the Cubs to keep him around all season.
"The question remains whether this young man can hit at the big league level with consistency," Piniella said. "We'll find out."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.