Instead, because Aramis Ramirez booted a ball with two out in the second inning and Randy Wells followed it with a fat first-pitch fastball (for which he got roundly criticized, and rightly so, by Bob Brenly) to a good-hitting pitcher, Randy Wolf, the Cubs lost 2-1 to the Dodgers and remain seven games out of first place.
Randy Wells pitched yet another outstanding game, and because he threw 6.2 innings, finally reached the list of qualified leaders for the ERA lead -- to do so you have to have pitched one inning per game your team has played. The Cubs have played 120 games, Wells now has 120.1 innings, and his 2.84 ERA ranks seventh in the National League, two spots behind his Rookie of the Year competition, the Phillies' J.A. Happ. Brenly was right, though -- you don't throw a first-pitch fastball down the middle even to a pitcher, and especially a good hitter like Wolf, who had three hits in his last start including a home run. If he gets Wolf, the inning is over despite the Ramirez error and the bullpen would be getting high marks from everyone for holding down a 1-0 victory.
Wolf, with that hit, now has 11 RBI for the season, leading all major league pitchers. We were also informed on the CSN telecast that no Dodger pitcher had driven in that many runs in a season since Fernando Valenzuela had 11 in 1990.
Now, on to the feckless Cub offense, which generated exactly one hit last night: Ryan Theriot's RBI single. Theriot waited exactly three pitches before getting picked off. That's sad old song we have heard far too many times. There was, of course, with two out and two strikes on Milton Bradley, not much of a chance of scoring a run from first base. But with Bradley and D-Lee and A-Ram due up and a run already in, wouldn't you the baserunner stick a little closer to first on a 1-2 count?
Anyway, the Cubs had exactly two more baserunners the rest of the game: a seventh-inning walk to Derrek Lee with one out, and a leadoff walk (!) by Alfonso Soriano in the eighth. Sam Fuld made a couple of nice defensive plays to keep the game close.
I don't know what else to say. With 42 games remaining in the season, it is far too early for an optimist like me to give up. But this team simply has to play up to its capabilities offensively; this is the first time a Cubs team has been one-hit since Derek Lowe, then a Dodger, threw a one-hitter at Wrigley Field on August 31, 2005. I'm not one of those people for whom other sports are a big deal. Sure, I follow the Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks during their seasons.
But baseball is my game. I won't give up until it is absolutely hopeless, and we have not gotten to that point yet. Ted Lilly throws this afternoon, and any time Ted takes the mound, the Cubs have a good shot at winning. The game preview thread will be up at 1 pm CDT. Go Cubs.