It was a near-perfect opening day for Kosuke Fukudome and the Chicago Cubs. "Near" being the key word.
Carlos Zambrano was spectacular on the day, throwing six and two third scoreless innings and striking out five before exiting due to cramps.
Japanese newcomer Kosuke Fukudome (3-for-3, 2B, HR, 3 RBI) had an equally impressive day, doubling in his first at-bat, then tying the game up with a three-run blast in the bottom of the ninth off Milwaukee closer Eric Gagne.
However, the Brewers would pull ahead for good in the top of the 10th via a sacrifice fly off the bat of Tony Gwynn, Jr. that plated Craig Counsell. Cubs reliever Bobby Howry was saddled with the loss.
"What can I do? I just have to get him sharp, and the only way you're going to do that is by using him," Piniella said of Howry, who hasn't gotten off to good starts in the past.
The right-hander said that wasn't the problem.
"I came out of spring throwing the ball much better than I have in the beginning the last two, three, four years," Howry said. "It has nothing to do with struggles. It's one game. It's not going to be the last one. It's a long year."
Starter-turned-closer Kerry Wood saw his first action as the club's stopper, surrendering three earned runs in the top of the ninth in a then-scoreless ball game.
Was Wood a little too pumped?
"No, actually I was the opposite," Wood said. "I was surprised I was able to keep the adrenaline under control. It didn't work out for me."
The Cubs were only able to muster five hits on the day (Fukudome’s three hits and Derek Lee and Felix Pie’s singles.)
Standouts for the Brew Crew included Gwynn, Jr. (2-for-3, RBI) and Corey Hart (1-for-4, 2 RBI). Ben Sheets pitched an outstanding game, going 6 1/3, striking out seven, and allowing only two hits.
(All quotes from www.cubs.com)