The Chicago Cubs came from behind 41 times in the regular season, but they couldn’t come back from after losing the lead in a 7-2 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field. On a windy 55-degree evening under the lights, Chicago fans watched the “lovable losers” play like the lovable losers of years past instead of the 2008 Cubs.
Ryan Dempster (0-1), making his first postseason start with the Cubs, walked the bases loaded in the third and fifth innings. He pitched out of it in the third, but gave up a grand slam to the left-center bleachers to L.A.’s James Loney in the fifth. Dempster looked more like the tightrope-walking closer than the top-of-the-rotation ace that he transformed into in the 2008 season.
Dempster couldn’t close out the inning, and three Cubs pitchers combined to give up three more runs, including a solo shot by Manny Ramirez. Ramirez’s solo home run in the seventh was his record-setting 25th postseason home run.
Mark DeRosa, still nursing a sore calf, was responsible for the Cubs’ lone piece of offense: A two-run home run in the second inning. The rest of the lineup was stifled by the relatively pedestrian pitching of Derek Lowe (1-0). The Dodgers’ game one starter, a veteran of postseason play with the Red Sox, didn’t need anything fancy to get the Cubs out, as their big bats were sleeping.
Soriano fell behind the count too often and struck out twice. Derrek Lee, among the league leaders in double-plays, hit into yet another one en route to an 0 for 4 evening at the plate. Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs’ RBI machine, hit his first ever postseason hit (a leadoff double in the sixth), but also grounded out twice, once into a doubleplay. The Cubs’ Rookie of the Year candidate, catcher Geovany Soto, went 0 for 4.
Even beloved Chicago icon Jim Belushi couldn’t wake the bats up with a rousing rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh inning stretch. “We can win this one!” he shouted. The Cubs might have had a chance to win if they had played like the team that won 97 games during the regular season.
Game two of the Chicago/L.A. NLDS will be played at Wrigley Field at 8:35pm CT on Thursday.