The Los Angeles Dodgers found a way to beat the Cubs without even putting the bat on the ball in the 11th inning of their 2-1 victory Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
"Oh, Lord," exasperated Cubs manager Lou Piniella said afterward. "Oh, Lord."
In another game that defied belief, the Cubs fell to 2-12 in one-run decisions and finished their West Coast swing with a 2-4 record before limping back to Chicago.
The 11th-inning fiasco featured a pair of walks by Angel Guzman and a botched pickoff attempt by catcher Michael Barrett before an intentional walk and hit batter by Carlos Marmol brought home the winning run.
"Unfortunately, those things happen," Barrett said.
Especially to the Cubs.
"We had chances," Piniella said. "Yeah, we had chances. Just didn't execute. Didn't get the big hit."
Rich Hill threw six shutout innings in his first quality start since May 5, but Dodgers left-hander Randy Wolf matched him inning for inning, leaving the game to the bullpens.
The Cubs finally broke through in the eighth on Derrek Lee's RBI single off Rudy Seanez, breaking his 3-for-24 slump on the trip. Michael Wuertz, who had pitched a perfect seventh, came out to start the eighth but was pulled in favor of Scott Eyre after Dodgers manager Grady Little sent left-handed-hitting Andre Ethier to pinch-hit.
Eyre has been the invisible man of the Cubs' bullpen, and for good reason. He hadn't pitched in five days, but Piniella said before the game he had to get him in.
Ethier promptly homered to right on an 0-2 slider, and Eyre was suddenly very visible again.
"You people ask me every day, 'When are you going to use him?' " Piniella said, in a bit of embellishment. "Well, I used him. He got two quick strikes, and then he hangs a breaking ball."
It was Eyre's fourth blown save of the year and the 10th for the Cubs' bullpen. The franchise record is 29, set in 2000, when the Cubs lost 97 games.
"Some days are harder than others, and today was a tough one to swallow because Rich was pitching so good," Eyre said. "The nice thing is I have teammates that keep trying to pick me up. They're keeping me above water right now."
Eyre might be above water, but his team is treading water because of the performances of Eyre and the rest of the bullpen, which now has as many losses as the rotation—13 each.
The Cubs still had an opportunity to bounce back before the fateful 11th did them in.
Guzman (0-1), who had pitched two perfect innings, came out for the 11th and walked Ramon Martinez, who was hitting .161. He then walked Wilson Betemit on five pitches before Rafael Furcal came up to try to bunt the runners along.
Furcal pulled back on ball one, but Martinez had strayed too far off second and slipped. Barrett saw Martinez between second and third, but instead of taking a step toward the runner and making him commit, he immediately threw to second. Martinez got up and raced for third, where he slid in easily.
"You've got to come out," Piniella said of Barrett's gaffe. "You can't throw the ball across the infield like that, because what happened is going to happen."
Barrett agreed with Piniella's assessment.
"It's easy to second-guess that play," he said. "Yeah, he fell down. Yeah, you run at him. As soon as it happened, I came up. He was still on the ground. As soon as I threw the ball, he got up and ran the other way. It was heads-up baserunning on his part, and next time I'll run at him."
Piniella brought in Marmol to intentionally walk Furcal, leaving it up to former Cub Juan Pierre, whose sacrifice fly had given the Dodgers a comeback victory Friday night. With the count 2-2, Marmol threw a pitch in the dirt that bounced up and hit Pierre in the leg, forcing home the winning run.
Barrett argued that Pierre's check swing had actually been a swinging strike, which would have negated the hit-by-pitch. But plate umpire Dana DeMuth was not persuaded, and the Dodgers walked off into the sunset with another wacky win.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times