Tonight, it was one of those wild nights when each team's bullpen collapsed.
Nine relievers were called in to work when nine out of 14 runs of the game were conceded by the bullpen of either team.
The game took three hours and 26 minutes to end and Chicago Cubs lost the battle at home. They were defeated by the San Diego Padres 9-5 in the first game of the four-game series.
Cubs starter Tom Gorzelanny (6-7) took the loss and the first five runs of the Padres. But it was up to the bullpen to decide the winner of the contest.
Gorzelanny allowed only two hits and a walk in the first four innings. But the Padres offense woke up when they faced him for the third time.
They scored one run each in the fifth and the sixth innings to make it 2-0.
And in the seventh, Gorzelanny ran out of gas and lost control.
He gave up a bunt single to lead-off pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn. Jerry Hairston Jr. was retired on a fly behind the home plate. Miguel Tejada doubled to deep left field to score Gwynn. Adrian Gonzalez followed with an RBI-single to bring home Tejada.
Gorzelanny grounded out Ryan Ludwick but walked Yorvit Torrealba to set up the table for Chase Headley, whose single scored Gonzalez from second. It was 5-0 for the visitors.
Both starters were pulled out of the game after six and a half innings. That was when the bullpen battle began.
The Cubs were the first to hit on Luke Gregerson, the first Padres reliever. They got two runs off him at the bottom of the seventh.
Alfonso Soriano was struck out to lead off. Blake DeWitt singled to center field. One out later, Tyler Covlin, who pinch-hit for Justin Berg, drew a walk. Fukudome doubled to deep right field to tally both runners.
Left-handed Joe Thatcher came in to pitch one-third of an inning and bailed out Gregerson.
But in the top of the eighth, Cubs reliever Andrew Cashner returned the favor by giving back two runs to the Padres.
He allowed back-to-back hits to start the inning, singles to Chris Denofia and Gwynn. After one out, he faced Tejada and threw a wild pitch to score Denofia from third. Then he gave up a RBI-single to Tejada, his fourth hit of the night, to drive in Gwynn.
Ernesto Frieri replaced Thatcher in the eighth to concede the Cubs’ last three runs.
Frieri easily retired the first two batters he faced. Then, Xavier Nady singled and scored on Soriano’s double. DeWitt gave hope for the Cubs to rally by blasting one out to the right-field stands for his third home run of the year. They cut the Padres lead to 7-5.
When the Cubs seemed to have a chance to come back in a two-run game, the Padres added two more insurance runs off James Russell in the ninth.
Denorfia tripled when Headley and Matt Stairs were on second and first respectively. Both runners scored. That would wrap the Padres' scoring on the day.
Heath Bell pitched a perfect ninth inning for the Padres in a non-save situation to close the door.
The Cubs used three different relievers while the Padres needed five to save the game.
If Chicago could cash in early in the game against starter Kevin Correia (10-7), the game could have different outcome. They did have their chances; however, stranding five of the six runners in the first two innings did not help.
Fukudome led off the first inning with a single and Darwin Barney followed with a double, his first major leauge hit. Correia retired the next two batters but walked Xavier Nady. In a bases-loaded situation, Soriano flied out to right field for the third out.
In the second, Correira retired DeWitt and Koyie Hill before giving up back-to-back singles to Gorzelanny and Fukudome. But rookie Darwin Barney hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
Correira did not give up runs and struck out five in six innings.
This article is also featured on www.sportshaze.com.