It was a pitching duel for most of the night as two of the best pitchers in the National League went head to head. And for five innings Brandon Webb gave up nothing but a pair of singles. But in the seventh Webb ran into a bit of trouble, a single by Derrek Lee, a walk and a wild pitch followed by a Ryan Theriot single allowed a Cubs run to cross the plate. And after that the Cubs didn’t even get another hit.
Webb, the reigning Cy Young Award winner showed his stuff for seven innings and forced the Cubs Carlos Zambrano to try and match him. And Zambrano did. Zambrano actually made only a single mistake, one bad pitch which Stephen Drew put into the stands in right center.
And while Webb came out to throw a perfect seventh, a mistake was going to be made in the inning, and it wasn’t made by a player on the field. No the error here was made by Cubs manager Lou Pinella who decided to pull Zambrano after just 85 pitches so that he could throw him again in game four on three days rest.
Pinella should have made sure he had the game in hand first. But instead he called in the usually reliable Carlos Marmol, who was just about unhittable during the regular season. Just four pitches later third baseman Mark Reynolds hit his first home run of the playoffs and the Cubs night was officially ruined. They just didn’t know it yet.
The Diamondbacks added an insurance run in the inning on a sacrifice fly and then it was all about their pitching.
Brandon Lyon came in to pitch a perfect eighth inning and Jose Valeverde came in to shut the door in the ninth and the Diamondbacks would take a 1-0 lead in the NLDS series.
But the story is Pinella’s questionable move. And while Pinella put his trust in the bullpen and got burned you have to ask yourself why? The Cubs bullpen is their biggest weakness in this series and Zambrano was pitching lights out until this point.
Now Pinella has to deal with the fact that he pulled Zambrano in a 1-1 tie to save him for a game which possibly might not happen. That makes this loss a tough one, and negates a lot of advantages which the Cubs seemed to have going into this series.
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