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No relief in sight for Cubs
The names on the backs of their uniforms have been removed and a few of the faces have changed, but the Cubs' collapse in their home opener Friday was eerily similar to the final week of the 2004 season.
Kerry Wood's gutsy performance went to waste, LaTroy Hawkins was up to his old tricks giving up a ninth-inning lead and Corey Patterson was booed for striking out a third time during the Cubs' 6-3 loss to Milwaukee in 12 innings.
Hawkins blew a one-run lead with two outs in the ninth, Jon Leicester gave up three two-out runs in the 12th and Cubs hitters were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, leaving them with a 1-3 record.
Meet the new Cubs. Same as the old Cubs?
"Not a very good home opener," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "That was a tough loss."
Hawkins entered the game with a 3-2 lead in the ninth and retired the first two men with ease. But nothing seems easy for Hawkins with a one-run lead, as evidenced Friday.
Speedster Junior Spivey singled, causing Hawkins to throw over to first three times during Lyle Overbay's at-bat.
Overbay then lined an opposite-field double to the left-field corner on a 1-2 pitch, sending Spivey home from first with the tying run after Todd Hollandsworth bobbled the ball.
Whether Hollandsworth would have had a chance to throw out Spivey was debatable.
"I did bobble it a hair," Hollandsworth said. "I don't know if it would've made a difference."
Hawkins was booed after blowing his 10th save in 35 opportunities as a Cub.
He said he had no problem with leaving the ball over the plate for Overbay instead of wasting a pitch.
"I threw a pitch that I liked, and he hit it," Hawkins said. "Baseball is a game of inches, and that's what it was, right?"
Nomar Garciaparra's single with two outs in the ninth gave the Cubs the potential winning run at third, but Jorge De La Rosa struck out Aramis Ramirez to send the game into extra innings.
Garciaparra was lifted the next inning in a double-switch for Glendon Rusch, who lasted only three batters before being replaced.
The Brewers, who were 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position and left 16 on bases, stranded five runners in the 10th and 11th innings before Leicester loaded the bases again in the 12th.
With two outs, Spivey delivered a two-run single up the middle on another 1-2 pitch and Overbay's RBI single off Todd Wellemeyer completed the carnage.
"We've been getting killed by the two-out hits," Baker said.
Wood, who pitched only five innings in the Cactus League after suffering shoulder inflammation in early March, threw 104 pitches in 5 2/3 innings, including only 52 strikes.
He allowed two runs on four hits with five walks and hit a batter. Wood struck out seven but had only one 1-2-3 inning.
Jason Dubois' two-run single off Milwaukee left-hander Chris Capuano gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead in the first, and Wood got in and out of jams until the sixth.
With two on and one out, Wood struck out Geoff Jenkinswho fanned four timesbut then walked Damian Miller to load the bases.
Wood quickly fell behind Russell Branyan before running it to a full count.
But Wood's next pitch was well out of the zone, forcing in the tying run. Baker promptly removed Wood rather than letting him face rookie J.J. Hardy.
"That was his first start," Baker said. "We shouldn't have even been in that situation. We had a couple of runners on third and less than two outs and didn't get him home. We've got to pick those RBIs up better."