Sleeping bats kill bid for 10th straight
Strong Lilly start wasted as Cubbies notch just four hits
SAN DIEGO -- For the first time in their last nine games, the Cubs couldn't rally. For the first time in their last 26 games, they didn't have the lead. And, for the first time in 10 games, they lost.
Brian Giles doubled and eventually scored on Kevin Kouzmanoff's sacrifice fly in the eighth inning Wednesday night to lift the San Diego Padres to a 2-1 victory over the Cubs, snapping their nine-game winning streak.
"The irony is it's the best game we've had pitched in a while," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "Their guys pitched equally well, in fact, just a tad better. It was a good ballgame. We just got beat."
Giles doubled to lead off the Padres' eighth against Ted Lilly (5-5), and moved up on Adrian Gonzalez's fly ball. Lilly exited, and Kouzmanoff greeted Carlos Marmol with a fly ball to center for the game-winner. Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth and gave up a two-out single to Ryan Theriot but struck out Derrek Lee to end the game, earning his 12th save.
"It was a tough one," said Lilly, who gave up seven hits and two walks while striking out eight over 7 1/3 innings. "I think I made enough mistakes, and I got out of some jams, and it was one of those games where you can only escape so many times."
The Padres countered with a Cooperstown-bound combo of Greg Maddux and Hoffman. Maddux deserved the win, but instead did not get a decision for the fourth straight start, and remained stuck on 350 career wins. It was his seventh quality start this year.
"He's not going to beat himself," Lee said of Maddux. "He's going to make you beat him. He threw strikes tonight, and we hit a ton of ground balls, and that's what he tries to do.
"You pretty much know what he's going to try to do," Lee said of the ex-Cub. "It's just a matter of getting to him. I think we could've done a better job of trying to get his pitch count up early."
Maddux was able to retire the first two batters on three pitches. Lilly found himself behind one after just two as Scott Hairston hit a 1-0 pitch for his eighth homer and the first leadoff blast by the Padres this season.
"You want to get ahead early in the game, and he's being aggressive," Lilly said. "I think if I located a little better, he doesn't hit it out of the park."
Lilly entered the game ranked among the National League leaders in home runs allowed. He'd served up five in his last two starts over nine innings.
"The last time he pitched in Chicago, the wind was blowing out," Piniella said. "One thing about him, he's found a way to battle and keep us in ballgames."
Lilly did just that. The Cubs had tied the game in the fourth. Maddux retired the first nine batters he faced, with Alfonso Soriano ending that streak on a leadoff single. He stole second, reaching third on Theriot's single before scoring on Lee's sacrifice fly to tie the game.
The Padres had a chance in the sixth. Giles doubled and advanced on an error by Theriot, whose throw sailed over Lee at first. One out later, Giles tried to score on Khalil Greene's grounder to third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Giles was called out, but it was a play dependant on your angle. Justin Huber then flied out to Jim Edmonds at the wall to end the inning.
San Diego had a runner at third with one out in the seventh, taking advantage of a leadoff walk and balk call against Lilly. Again, the Cubs' lefty escaped. The balk was a little unusual.
"I was cheating in for the bunt, and got off the bag," Lee said. "You have to be able to make a play on the guy at first."
"I've done that quite a few times," Lilly said, "and it's been close but they've never called it. Usually it's a lot more blatant than that. I guess he thought it was enough. I'm pretty sure he wasn't going to change his call."
Piniella was a little puzzled by the call.
"That's the first time that's happened," Piniella said. "We're going to have to come up with a signal for the first baseman so he knows. That's the first time I've ever seen that called. [The umpire] said there was no play on the runner.
"I wasn't aware of the rule, but these umpires can conjure some up sometimes," Piniella said. "I've got to believe them because they know the rulebook better than I do."
The Cubs still have the best record in the Majors at 38-22. They'll try to start a new streak in Los Angeles on Thursday.
"We had a nine-game winning streak, we've been playing good baseball," Piniella said. "Give their team credit for pitching well. You can't win every game you play. Hopefully tomorrow we'll get another good game from [Ryan] Dempster and start a new streak -- a win streak, that is."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.