Bryan LaHair of the Chicago Cubs greets Marlon Byrd after Byrd hit a two-run homer in the first inning during a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Piece of cake, right? Easy win? Series split, enjoyable early plane ride home? Time to celebrate Byrd passing the magical 30-RBI plateau?
Not so fast. The Cubs apparently had that plane warmed up and waiting and forgot how to hit after that. The unfortunately-named Bailey settled down and gave the Cubs just two more hits and completed work through the sixth inning -- longer than Cubs starter Randy Wells, who had his worst outing since early August and didn't finish the fifth. The Reds eventually took a 6-4 lead.
The Cubs, in fact, had just those two hits until the ninth inning, when they had a very nicely done game-tying rally against Reds closer Francisco Cordero.
Tony Campana worked a full count before slashing a single to left. Alfonso Soriano had a pinch-hit double, scoring Campana easily. Soriano, left in the game, advanced to third on a fly ball by Starlin Castro.
Sean Marshall pitched two shutout innings in relief, striking out four.
All good, right?
Not so fast, again. All this accomplished was delaying the Cubs' flight home for today's afternoon game, because after the Cubs pinch-hit for Marshall, James Russell came into the game in the bottom of the 11th and lost the game by an 8-6 score in seven pitches to Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, which went:
Called strike, ball, ball, ball, called strike, double by Votto, home run by Bruce.
That was one of Russell's worst, if not the worst, outings he's had as a reliever this season. It happens. Sometimes pitchers who do well in a role have a bad day. He picked the worst possible time to do it. The Cubs dropped to 20 games under .500 and their flight home was due to get in at almost 1 a.m. I remember hearing decades ago that some Cubs players, when faced with arriving at the ballpark from a road trip that late to pick up their cars, with a day game the next day, would just sleep in the clubhouse.
They'll face the Astros in just a few hours. Today's preview thread will be up at 11:30 a.m. CDT.