The Cubs used the long ball early and often against Chad Billingsley and the Dodgers staff to build a 6-2 lead through three innings. Nate Schierholtz hit a solo shot in the first, and then Welington Castillo went back to back with Darnell McDonald in the third inning. McDonald padded the RBI numbers with a three run homer, a no doubter. Unfortunately that was about it for the Cubs offense as they couldn’t scratch across another run the rest of the afternoon. Carlos Villanueva made his Cubs debut and it could have been better as he struggled with his command. Villanueva couldn’t make in through the first inning as he walked two guys, and gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning. Blake Parker and Barret Loux had solid outings, each turning in a scoreless effort. Robert Whitenack struggled today, giving up three runs, while not allowing a hit, yes he struggled with command as well, walking two in two-thirds of an inning. The news of the day came from Dontrelle Willis, not because he made his debut, but because he only threw seven pitches before leaving with what is being described as shoulder stiffness, he took the loss.
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Chad Billingsley had his way with the Cubs lineup, as he usually does, and the Dodgers knocked around Jeff Samardzija en route to a 6-1 victory in Los Angeles. Samardzija was repeatedly beat tonight ahead in the count, which is rare for him. Shark just couldn’t put any one away, he lasted 5.1 innings giving up five runs on eight hits while walking none and striking out three on the way to his ninth loss of the season. As I mentioned the Cubs offense was nothing to write home about as they seemed to sleep walk their way through this one. They only managed four hits on the night, and finished 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. Luis Valbuena was the only Cubs player to register an RBI as he knocked in Darwin Barney with an RBI double in the 5th to tie the game at one. Unfortunately the Dodgers poured it on from there, scoring twice in the 5th and 6th to make it 5-1 on their way to the victory. There was a bright side tonight, I promise. Scott Maine, Alberto Cabrera, and Jeff Beliveau all had scoreless outings, nice to see some success out of the bullpen by guys not named Russell and Camp. Small change to the rotation as Chris Volstad will get the start against Clayton Kershaw tomorrow night instead of Justin Germano. Full box score and highlights after the jump.
Jeff Samardzija takes the ball tonight in Los Angeles against Chad Billingsley. The Cubs look to get back on track after losing the final two games against the Pirates in Chicago. First pitch scheduled for 9:10 PM CST, take a nap now. Here is how the Cubs will line up.
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On paper this matchup looks, well, horrible for the Cubs. Luckily for the Cubs they don’t play these games on paper, that could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. Given the matchups this weekend the Cubs are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to pitching. This could be said for the whole season, but it hasn’t ever been as bad as this, with Dempster gone, and Garza shelved it could be a long series for Samardzija, Germano, and Coleman. If the Cubs want any shot at winning this series they are going to need to get outstanding performances from said starters as the offense will be hard pressed to put up very many runs. The Dodgers rank third in the National League with a 3.38 ERA, compared to the Cubs who have a 4.31 ERA good for 14th in the NL. The only good news for the Cubs right now is that the Dodgers come into this series reeling despite acquiring Shane Victorino and Hanley Ramirez before the trade deadline. They were just swept by the Diamondbacks and currently sit .5 game out of first with the D-Backs hot on their tail for second. It will be interesting to see which Cubs team finishes this series as Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson have both been rumored to be getting the call very soon.
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Paul Maholm’s Cubs career got off to a frustrating start for Maholm and Cubs fans alike. Luckily for all involved Maholm has taken that frustration out on his opponents in each of his last three appearances. The Dodgers were today’s victim as Maholm carved up Los Angeles over 6 innings en route to a 5-4 victory. Alfonso Soriano had a solid day at the plate going 3-for-3 with two doubles, crazy I know, and two RBI’s. David DeJesus didn’t let Soriano have all the fun at the plate as he finished the day a home run short of the cycle as he went 3-for-4 with an RBI. The Cubs of course held a one run lead as the game moved to the ninth inning, how anyone could expect anything different after yesterday’s debacle is beyond me as baseball always seems to work in mysterious ways. However unlike yesterday, Rafael Dolis was able to shut the door on the Dodgers for his second save of the season, and a big Cubs win to start the home stand. Full box score and highlights after the jump.