Mistakes fuel one-run loss in 11
Eyre, Guzman, Marmol give back Hill's solid start
LOS ANGELES -- After Scott Eyre had hung an 0-2 slider that Andre Ethier launched out of Dodger Stadium to tie Sunday's game in the eighth inning, the Cubs reliever sat in the dugout in disbelief.
Unfortunately, it's a look he shared with some of his teammates Sunday.
The Dodgers won in the 11th inning when Juan Pierre was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, allowing Ramon Martinez to score the game-winning run and post a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the Cubs.
Let's go back to the eighth. The Cubs had taken a 1-0 lead in the top half on Derrek Lee's RBI single. In the Dodgers' half, Michael Wuertz started the inning but when Cubs manager Lou Piniella saw Ethier coming up to pinch-hit, he called on Eyre, who hadn't pitched since May 20.
"I made the pitch I wanted to make," Eyre said. "After I came out, I was sitting on the bench and staring into center field ... and [Piniella] walked over and made a comment. I made two good sliders down and away. Why not stand the guy up? Not hit him, but throw a pitch inside, and then I don't have to be so perfect on the next pitch. It's that simple.
"[Piniella] had every right to yell at me and he didn't," Eyre said. "I applaud him for that. That's what I should've done. That's what we talked about in our meeting about Andre Ethier. I can stand here and say [Ethier] did what he's supposed to do. [Piniella] is right."
It'll be a long flight back to Chicago. This was the left-hander's fourth blown save, and the 10th by the Cubs' bullpen. With the loss, Chicago's relievers now are a combined 4-13, and the team is 1-5 in extra inning games.
"They just outlasted us today," Lee said.
Eyre's pitch wasn't the only mistake of the day. With the game tied at 1 in the 11th, Angel Guzman (0-1) walked both Martinez, a pinch-hitter, and Wilson Betemit. Rafael Furcal showed a bunt on the first pitch, and Martinez broke for third. Cubs catcher Michael Barrett threw to shortstop Cesar Izturis to try to get Martinez, but he was safe on the steal.
"It's easy to second guess that play," Barrett said. "[Martinez] fell down. Yeah, you run on him. As soon as it happened, I came up and he was still on the ground. It was heads-up baserunning on his part and next time I'll run at him. Unfortunately, those things happen. He made a good baserunning decision. I made a poor decision. I have to move on and work on it."
"You've got to come out," Piniella said. "You can't throw the ball across the infield like that. What happened is going to happen."
It was a tough day for Barrett. We'll get back to that, too.
After Martinez was safe, Guzman was pulled and Carlos Marmol intentionally walked Furcal to load the bases. With Pierre at the plate, Marmol's 2-2 pitch hit him on the knee and Martinez scored the game-winner.
"Marmol made a great pitch," Barrett said. "It was exactly where I wanted it. I thought it was a good chance he was swinging. He checked on his swing. The ball came up and hit him. I thought he might have swung at it. I still didn't get a good read on it."
The play was initially ruled a wild pitch, and Barrett questioned third-base umpire Doug Eddings as to whether Pierre swung. After watching a replay a few times, Barrett still wasn't sure what happened. The official scorer changed the ruling after checking with the umpires.
The game never should've gone to 11. The Cubs stranded nine, and were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. They had the bases loaded in the eighth, but Joe Beimel got pinch-hitter Aramis Ramirez to fly out and end the inning. They left the bases loaded in the fifth. They stranded a runner at third with two outs in the seventh. Barrett also committed a baseball sin by getting thrown out at third for the third out in the second.
"The at-bat where [starter Randy Wolf] pitched to Angel Pagan, he threw four breaking balls," Barrett said. "I thought I'd gotten the sign, I thought I'd seen the sign they were going with. Cesar Izturis is hitting, and I gambled there. I thought I had the sign at second base that he was going to throw a curveball. He threw a fastball in and nailed me.
"Bottom line is, I overthought the whole process," Barrett said. "I really should let Lou make those decisions and not try to do too much."
Piniella is probably thinking the same thing.
Cubs starter Rich Hill deserved better. The lefty gave up three hits and two walks over six scoreless innings, striking out three. He was pulled after 66 pitches so the Cubs could insert pinch-hitter Daryle Ward in the seventh. Ward lined out to strand a runner at third.
On the positive side, Hill has modified his delivery to help him with runners on base. He was comfortable with that on Sunday. He should've had a win.
"We've got to stay positive, that's the biggest thing," Hill said. "It takes work to stay positive -- it's easy to say, 'Here we go again' and have a negative attitude."
"We need to play better," Lee said. "We need to be more consistent. It seems like every day, when we score eight runs, we give up nine, or when we score one, we give up two. We have to find a way to get over the hump. I don't have the answers. It's odd almost. We just come up short every day. We have to find a way to be the ones coming out on top."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.