Cubs fall quietly in long night at Shea
Club manages just two hits; Hill toils through six innings
NEW YORK -- Did you stay awake for this one?
Jorge Sosa held the Cubs to one hit over seven-plus innings, and Damion Easley hit a two-run homer to lift the New York Mets to an 8-1 victory and hand Rich Hill his second straight loss late Wednesday.
Rain delayed the start of the game for three hours and seven minutes, but several hundred fans stuck around. After all, this is the city that never sleeps. The Cubs may be a little bleary-eyed Thursday in the series finale since the game ended around 1 a.m. ET.
"It's the same for both teams -- we have no excuses about the delay," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
"You're just trying to stay mentally sharp and prepare yourself when the game starts, and not have a letdown or let your mind turn it off," Hill said of the delay. "You have to make sure you're on top and know you're going to play that night and not look forward to the next day."
Hill (4-3) gave up four runs, scattered seven hits and walked four over six innings, while striking out six. He was 3-1 with a 1.77 ERA in five April starts, and is 1-2 in May with a 5.29 ERA (10 earned runs in 17 innings).
"He's walking people -- he wasn't walking people early in the year," Piniella said. "And they're running on him, which causes even more problems. He has to work on that. I thought [of] a modified delivery, but it's not working. They're running on [his] first move, and it's causing him problems."
Piniella called it a "little bit of a funk." Hill agreed.
"I just have to get back on track out of the stretch," Hill said. "That's the biggest thing right now. For the most part, everything was strong. A few hits got in there, and it's part of the game."
The Cubs left-hander struck out three of the first five batters he faced before Paul Lo Duca, Shawn Green and Carlos Gomez each singled in the second. Lo Duca scored for Gomez's first Major League RBI.
The Mets loaded the bases with one out in the third on two walks and a single, and made it 2-0 on David Wright's sacrifice fly which second baseman Ryan Theriot caught in shallow right.
With two outs in the Mets' fourth, Jose Reyes blooped a single, which dropped in front of right fielder Cliff Floyd. Easley then crushed a 1-0 pitch over the left-field fence for his sixth home run and a 4-0 lead. Wright added an RBI double, Lo Duca hit a sacrifice fly, and Gomez hit an RBI double in the seventh off Neal Cotts.
"There were some jam shots," Hill said of the Mets' bloop hits. "Not to make any excuses -- you have to make your pitches and get the job done, and I didn't do that tonight."
Sosa (3-0) picked up the win, giving up the one hit -- a leadoff single by Cesar Izturis in the third. The right-hander struck out five and walked three. He also was charged with the Cubs' run, which came in the eighth. Sosa walked Izturis to lead off and was then pulled. Two outs later, Izturis scored on Floyd's broken-bat single.
"When he gets on a roll early, he usually builds on it," Piniella said of Sosa.
Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez did his part to help Hill. He made a great stop of Reyes' hard-hit grounder to lead off the third and threw out the speedy shortstop. Ramirez also made a stellar grab of Gomez's line drive that was headed down the third-base line to open the fourth.
Alfonso Soriano went 0-for-4, and his streak of reaching base in consecutive games ended at a career-high 31. It's the second longest streak by a Cubs player to start the season, trailing teammate Derrek Lee, who began this year by getting on base in his first 32 games.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.