Cubs can't make it five in a row
Fukudome scores twice, but club finds luck runs dry
TORONTO -- There was not much that Cubs manager Lou Piniella could say to describe the outcome of Friday's opener of a three-game set against the Blue Jays.
His team managed to out-hit the Blue Jays, yet a plethora of missed scoring opportunities for Chicago resulted in a 3-2 loss to Toronto at Rogers Centre. The defeat ended Chicago's (43-25) winning streak at four games and also handed the Cubs their first loss in a series' opening tilt since May 9 -- a span of 10 series.
Following the loss, Piniella pointed to a play in the sixth inning that, in the long run, had the Cubs shaking their heads.
"We had chances, we really did," said Piniella. "The big one was the double play by [Ryan] Theriot with the bases loaded. Outside of that, we had chances, but we didn't score runs."
The "big one" Piniella was referring to came in the sixth inning, when the Cubs had Toronto's pitchers on the ropes, yet could not deliver any sort of knockout blow. Entering the inning trailing, 3-1, Chicago right fielder Kosuke Fukudome singled up the middle against Jays starter A.J. Burnett (6-6) to open the frame, and was followed by Geovany Soto, who drew a walk.
Jim Edmonds then laced a single up the middle off Jays reliever Brian Wolfe, who had replaced Burnett, to load the bases. The shot from Edmonds had hit the arm of the second-base umpire and was ruled a dead-ball single. Had the ball not hit the umpire, Fukudome would have scored from second, but he was instead called back to third, after the umpires realized what had happened.
While the Blue Jays did catch a break on that play, however, Eric Patterson managed to cash in Fukudome with a line-drive single to right field later in the inning. The next batter, Theriot, ended the Cubs' threat by grounding into a double play.
"We had some opportunities, we had a lot of guys on base and just didn't get the big hit when we needed to," Patterson said, stating the obvious on a night that saw Chicago hit just 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
In the first inning, the Cubs were also able to load the bases, but to no avail. After Derrek Lee reached base on a fielder's choice, Aramis Ramirez singled and Fukudome walked to load the bases with two outs.
However, Burnett was able to escape the threat unharmed, inducing a weak fly out to right field off the bat of Soto.
"He threw the ball well," said Patterson, who struck out twice against Burnett before delivering his RBI single. "I felt like I had some pitches early in the count to hit, but you get behind on a guy like that, it's tough. He threw the ball well and mixed it up and did a good job of getting us out."
Taking the loss was Cubs starter Sean Gallagher (3-3), who was only haunted by one frame during his five-plus innings. In the third inning, Gallagher allowed Jays right fielder Alex Rios to reach base on a double into the left-field corner. Then, Matt Stairs deposited a 1-0 pitch from the Cubs right-hander into the second deck of the right-field stands for a two-run home run.
The next batter, Scott Rolen, added a homer of his own, launching a 2-2 pitch from Gallagher over the left-field wall to complete the scoring for Toronto. Gallagher allowed three runs on seven hits during his outing. He walked two and struck out five.
"It was just that one inning," Gallagher said. "I let a few pitches get away from me and they put some good swings on them.
"I think I fell behind too many guys," he continued. "I had a little trouble throwing my breaking ball for strikes ahead in the count when I needed to and when it came down to throwing it for a strike, I left it up."
Making only his seventh start of the year for the Cubs, the rookie felt he did make progress, though.
"It's a learning experience," he said. "Just going out there every fifth day, being able to execute pitches. Today, I let a few things get away from me. But [I have to] learn from this and take it to the next [game]."
In the ninth inning, the Cubs were able to get the tying runner on base against Toronto closer B.J. Ryan, however could not muster one of the familiar comebacks that the team has been accustomed to recently. Entering Friday, Chicago had come-from-behind wins in 10 of its last 13 games and a total of 22 on the season.
Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson came in the game as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning and received a long standing ovation from the Rogers Centre crowd. Johnson was making his first return as a visiting player to the city where he spent the first five years of his career. Johnson was retired when he grounded the first pitch he saw from Ryan to second base.
He said he had anticipated the situation.
"You run the situation in your head really before it happens and I knew that when I came out it was going to be a nice ovation -- it was a lot better than I thought it would be. Just to be appreciated like that in the city I played in for a long time, it was a really good feeling, but, at the same time, I knew I had a job to do.
"I just tried to put a nice, easy swing on a fastball. I put a good swing on it, but they had me played perfect."
It was that kind of night for the Cubs.
David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.