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10/01/08 10:00 PM ET

Cubs Short Hops: Game 1

DeRosa a reason for optimism after loss to Dodgers

CHICAGO -- Fielding the Cubs' Game 1, 7-2 loss to the Dodgers on a short hop ...

In < 25 words ...
The Cubs suffered a crushing defeat on a crushing blow by James Loney, who hit a grand slam off Ryan Dempster in the fifth.

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Frozen moment
Cubs second baseman Mark DeRosa stuck out his arm, as if to salute the Wrigley Field faithful after crossing home plate on his second-inning, two-run home run.

Big number
7 -- Dempster issued seven walks, his most since 1999 and matching a career high.

Game balls

Mike Fontenot

Fontenot wasn't asked to do much, but he answered the call nonetheless. Fontenot singled as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, showing that he might be an option to start later in the series if the Cubs look for more offensive punch.

Kosuke Fukudome

Starting Fukudome and putting him in the No. 2 hole was Lou Piniella's only questionable lineup decision. Piniella said he wanted Fukudome in there because of his defense. If that was the main reasoning, then the manager got his money's worth. Fukudome made one of the game's great defensive plays in the second by hauling in a foul fly while keeping balance over the Dodgers bullpen mound. He went 0-for-4 at the plate, reaching on an error in the fifth.

Alfonso Soriano

Soriano led the Cubs in homers in the regular season. He leads them in strikeouts in the playoffs. The leadoff man went 0-for-4 with two K's, unable to set the table for the rest of the offense, which didn't perform all that well, either. To Soriano's credit, he made one of the game's great defensive plays by robbing Russell Martin of extra bases on a warning-track fly in the second inning.

Sense of October
The championship-starved Cubs fans' up-and-down night. There's normally a buzz around Wrigley from the first pitch, but an apprehensive calmness filled the air for the first inning. They erupted on DeRosa's homer. Later on, a different silence reigned over the park, building with every Dodgers home run.

Lines of the Game

Mark DeRosa
4 AB, 2 H, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R
Comment: The second baseman had been sidelined for the last week with a strained left calf, but he showed no ill-effects on Wednesday and was the only Cubs player with multiple hits.

Sean Marshall
2.1 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 4 Ks
Comment: Marshall came on in relief of Dempster and stopped the bleeding immediately. With an inherited runner on second, he struck out Blake DeWitt to end the fifth. Unfortunately, Manny Ramirez took him deep by golfing a ball below his knees to the left-field bleachers in the sixth. Other than getting beat by one of the hottest hitters in baseball, Marshall was solid.

"We are responsible to break this 100 years [curse]. But if we think about that and we keep that in our mind, it would be too much pressure for us." -- Carlos Zambrano

Next step
The Cubs turn to their shaky ace, Zambrano, to dig them out of a 1-0 hole. The Dodgers have already stolen home-field advantage, but a second loss at Wrigley Field would be crippling.

Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.