It was a weird day at Wrigley Field on Friday.
It started with sunshine and temperatures in the 60s and people showing up in shorts and tank tops; at one point, about eight beach balls were being flung around the bleachers. (Please, people. Take those back to L.A. with you.) About the sixth inning, the wind shifted, fog rolled in off the lake, many of the underdressed people left, and the wind, among other things, helped push a Joe Mather pinch-hit into the right-field bleachers for the Cubs' first PH home run of the season. Hit off Chad Billingsley, it was the Cubs' Leave It To Beaver moment of the season. (Credit where credit is due for this idea to Bruce Miles.)
The Cubs had the lead from the first inning but barely hung on to beat the Dodgers 5-4 in the first meeting between the teams this year.
It might have made history, too; by the seventh inning, both the Cubs' David DeJesus and the Dodgers' Jerry Hairston Jr. were one hit short of a cycle. There have never been two cycles in one game.
DeJesus doubled, singled and tripled in his first three at-bats before striking out in the sixth. He came up for the last time in the eighth and drew a walk on a 3-2 count. Hairston homered off Paul Maholm in the third to cut the Cubs lead to 2-1 (his third career homer off Maholm, his most off any pitcher), then singled in the fifth and hit an RBI triple past DeJesus into the right-field corner in the seventh.
Fortunately, when Hairston came up in the ninth, representing the possible tying run, Rafael Dolis got him to ground out to third base. History will have to wait.
Maholm threw six solid innings, though the sixth was marred when Dee Gordon smashed a ball off Maholm's knee. Maholm stayed in the game, finished off the Dodgers in the inning, then was removed for Mather. Hopefully, this won't cause anything more than a bruise and Maholm will be able to make his next start on schedule. In his last three starts, he's posted a 1.47 ERA in 18⅓ innings, allowing just 12 hits, three walks and striking out 10 -- excellent performance if he can keep it up.
In addition to DeJesus, Alfonso Soriano had three hits today and also drew a walk. Tony Campana also walked -- twice. (No, I am not making this up.) That would have been more useful if Campana hadn't been caught stealing the second time in the seventh inning; the Cubs had two walks and three hits in that inning, but scored only one run. Might have been more, if Geovany Soto had been able to work a bases-loaded walk after a 3-0 count. The ball-and-strike calls were all over the place today for both teams. Eventually, this got Dale Sveum ejected in the ninth inning when he came out to argue after A.J. Ellis was hit with a Dolis pitch with two out. His beef was likely with the pitch before the HBP, which was probably strike three.
The Cubs' bullpen managed to get the job done and Dolis posted his second save today, but it was shakier than it needed to be. James Russell was not sharp, allowing his first run of the year, and Kerry Wood also gave up a pair of runs when he walked Mark Ellis and Matt Kemp tripled him in; Kemp scored on a sac fly. I was kind of surprised that Dolis got the call in the ninth inning in the first place, considering he appeared in both games in Cincinnati and had a 17-pitch outing on Thursday. The Cubs had Michael Bowden warming up just in case, when Bobby Abreu -- just signed by the Dodgers this morning -- hit a sharp line drive to DeJesus to end it. (Abreu was also wearing a bright-red glove in the outfield Friday afternoon, likely a leftover from his Angels days.)
Lendy Castillo held hostage, day 14: it's now been two weeks since the Rule 5 pick has been in a game. He has appeared in five games this season, in which the average score has been Cubs 3, Other Guys 9. What is the point of this? Essentially, it means the Cubs have been playing with a 24-man roster for two weeks. Either DL him (and bring up Scott Maine again, because the Cubs could use another lefty in the bullpen) or send him back to the Phillies. There's no point in keeping someone like this if you're not going to use him.
The Cubs are 7-5 in their last 12 games. That's about all I've got. The series continues Saturday afternoon.