Cubs find no E-surance in tough loss
Last Chicago miscue leads to game-winner for Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE -- Thursday's Cubs game was an example of what not to do.
The Milwaukee Brewers took advantage of three errors and scored three runs in three different innings without a hit, including the game-winner in the 10th, when Carlos Gomez scored on a wild throw by first baseman Xavier Nady to post a 5-4 victory over Chicago.
"Mistakes finally cost us a game," manager Lou Piniella said. "That's the story of this one."
With the game tied at 4 in the Milwaukee 10th, reliever Bob Howry (1-1) walked Gomez. Craig Counsell then bunted, and third baseman Chad Tracy threw to first for the force. Gomez kept running. Nady threw to catcher Koyie Hill, who was covering at third, and missed everyone. Gomez scored on the error.
"I just tried to make a perfect throw and it sailed on me," Nady said.
"He just made a bad throw," Hill said of Nady, starting in place of Derrek Lee, who has gone 56 games without committing an error and who was given Thursday off.
"It was a perfect situation for the Brewers," Hill said. "They had a guy up there at the plate [in Counsell] who takes a lot of pride in what he does and he practices those situations, so when it does come up, he gets the bunt down to the right side of the field. They have the perfect guy on first base [in Gomez], who is one of the fastest guys in the league, and they had one of the worst fundamental teams on the field, so it was a perfect situation for them."
With Hill covering at third, nobody was protecting home if the Cubs did try to get Gomez at home.
"I looked a little bit to home plate and I saw Counsell drop a bunt, so I wasn't stopping," Gomez said. "They had no chance to throw me out at third because the catcher had to run to third."
"It was great baserunning," Counsell said. "I think [Gomez] basically had it in his head that he was going to third and he never slowed down. They weren't going to get him, even with a good throw."
The sloppy loss ended the Cubs' nine-game, 11-day road trip against National League Central teams at 3-6. Ouch.
"We have to win no matter who we're playing against," starter Ryan Dempster said. "The more this season keeps getting later and later, the more losses pile up. We have to win more games, that's the bottom line. Do whatever you can do to win more games."
Dempster struggled, too. The Blue Angels used the air space above Miller Park to prepare for a weekend show and created a bad buzz in the Milwaukee second. Corey Hart took a called strike just as the jets passed over. If he was distracted, he quickly got back on track as Hart drove the next pitch from Dempster to center for his 16th home run.
That was the only legitimate run by the Brewers in the game.
"They really should've scored one run in nine innings and that was a solo home run," Piniella said.
Nady's sacrifice fly in the fourth tied the game, but the Brewers answered in their half, getting a runner at third with two outs. Dempster intentionally walked Alcides Escobar to face Dave Bush, a .077 hitter, and he singled to right for his second hit of the season and first RBI.
Starlin Castro led off the Chicago fifth with a single and reached third two batters later before scoring on Ryan Theriot's single that third baseman Casey McGehee knocked down.
Then there was the bizarre rundown in the Milwaukee fifth. The Brewers had runners at first and second with one out when McGehee hit a grounder to Theriot at second. He threw to Nady at first for one out, and Nady threw to Castro in hopes of a force at second. But the lead runner, Rickie Weeks, had rounded third and Castro fired the ball to catcher Geovany Soto, who threw to third baseman Chad Tracy. Weeks dodged the defenders and was safe on a bad relay from Tracy to Soto. Tracy was charged with an error, and the Brewers had taken a 3-2 lead without a hit.
"You've got two slow runners," Piniella said. "What's the sense of running the runner back? Go for the conventional double play, second to first, and you turn a double play.
"Instead of running the guy toward home, you run him back toward third, so if you mess up the play, at least you have a guy on third instead of scoring."
"After I thought about it, yeah, it would've probably been a better play to go to second," Theriot said. "The ball took me that way toward Prince [Fielder]. I was still trying to get the double play, don't get me wrong. It just worked out to where looking back at it, if I had caught it and stopped to throw back across to second, we could've had a shot at it."
Nady put the Cubs ahead, 4-3, with a two-run homer in the sixth. But the Brewers again scored without a hit in their half as they loaded the bases with two outs on an error by Castro and walks by Tom Gorzelanny to Weeks and Fielder. Jeff Stevens then walked Ryan Braun to tie the game at 4.
It'll be a long drive back to Chicago on Interstate 94 for the Cubs.
"We haven't been playing well and we know it," Nady said. "We have to obviously turn things around sooner or later or it's going to be a long year. Hopefully, going home will help us out and we'll go from there."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.