Cubs Come up Short in Desert Again

Cubs manager Lou Piniella was plenty second-guessed following some of his decisions during Game 1 of the National League Division Series against Arizona on Wednesday night, but there was not as much to second-guess after Thursday's 8-4 loss in Game 2 at Chase Field.

The reality is that the Cubs were down by too many runs for much of the night Thursday for the manager to be criticized for making any one particular move.

The Cubs left nine runners on base for the second straight night, although they doubled their total of four hits from the previous night with eight hits on Thursday.

Not that that did Cubs starter Ted Lilly very much good. Lilly gave up six runs and left emotions a blazing after just 3 1/3 innings on the hill.

The left-hander was spotted a 2-0 lead when upstart catching prospect turned September sensation Geovany Soto homered off Doug Davis in the second inning. That gave the Cubs their only lead in the series to date, but it was short-lived.

Making his first postseason start since 2003, Lilly allowed the first two Arizona hitters he faced to reach base a half-inning later to set the stage for a three-run Chris Young home run to left field with two away.

Lilly took out his frustrations on his glove by hurling it into the ground after Young began his trot around the bases, prompting Piniella to say afterward, "I've never seen a pitcher throw their glove like that on the mound. He was probably upset at the -- I think the catcher called for a breaking ball, and I think that was it ... I'm not positive."

Eric Byrnes' triple following Stephen Drew's single plated Arizona's fourth run in the inning to make it 4-2, and Lilly surrendered two more runs in the fourth before exiting.

Lilly threw 79 pitches in the loss, yielding seven hits and four walks.

"He was behind a lot of the hitters, wasn't getting the stuff open," Piniella told reporters during his post-game press conference.

"He was fighting himself a little bit out there, too. He wasn't sharp."

He wasn't the only one.

Aramis Ramirez continued his postseason slide with a 0-for-5 night that saw him strike out three times. Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano combined for three hits, but all were singles with the Cubs down by four runs each time.

Ramirez is a combined 0-for-9 with four strikeouts in the series, with Lee and Soriano a combined 4-for-18 with four singles.

"This Arizona pitching, I said it before the series started, we had to hit," Piniella said. "They've done it a lot this year with their pitching. They're an athletic team, and they caught some balls out there that when they were hit, I didn't think they would be caught."

Piniella was asked if he saw anything in Lee and Ramirez's approach that suggested something besides the Diamondbacks pitching well.

"I don't see anything," he said. "They've got a nice pitching staff over there. We played them this summer and they pitched well against us, too."

Davis pitched well enough anyway. He allowed all four Cubs runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings, striking out eight and walking four.

Arizona can get the sweep in Game 3 of the series Saturday at Wrigley Field. Rich Hill (11-8, 3.92 ERA this season) will get the start for the Cubs against Livan Hernandez (11-11, 4.93 ERA) beginning at 5:07 p.m. CDT. The game can be seen on TBS.

Only a handful of teams have rallied to win a Division Series when trailing 2 games to 0. The Boston Red Sox did it in 2003, defeating the Oakland Athletics.

The New York Yankees did it two years before then, also against the A's, and the Seattle Mariners did it against the Yankees in 1995.

In 1999, the Red Sox erased a 2 games to 0 deficit to defeat the Cleveland Indians in their best-of-five Division Series to earn a trip to the ALCS.

Piniella said: "Look, we're going home. We've got our home fans, and we've got a chance to get it back here with a couple wins, and that's exactly what we're going to try to do."


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