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No walk in the park for Cubs

No walk in the park for Cubs
MILWAUKEE ? Lou Piniella did his stand-up routine Friday after the Cubs ? tough 4-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in the home opener at Miller Park.

The Cubs ? manager was in no mood for comedy, though.

"Can?t walk as many people as we did from the seventh inning on," Piniella said while standing up behind his office desk and speaking before reporters could utter a question. "Just can?t do it. You?re going to lose. Get the ball over the plate, and make the other team beat you. Period."

The end-of-story part came in the bottom of the ninth, when the Brewers scored twice against closer Kevin Gregg to erase a 3-2 deficit. The winning run came when Ryan Braun bounced a ball to deep short.

Ryan Theriot threw home, and catcher Koyie Hill was late with his tag on Rickie Weeks, who slid in from third base.

An upset Hill spiked the ball to the ground in anger but later apologized for his action.

What started the whole mess in the first place was one of those walks that had Piniella fuming. No. 9 hitter Chris Duffy walked with one out on a 3-2 pitch, a breaking ball called by Hill.

"That was stupid," Hill said. "I take full responsibility for that. It was the wrong pitch. There?s no way to argue it. It was just flat-out the wrong pitch. Slider, 3-2 slider in. There?s nothing else you can say about it."

Hill had figured big time in the Cubs taking a lead.

Down 2-1 in the sixth, Hill hit a 2-run homer to left-center off reliever Seth McClung to put the Cubs ahead. That came two innings after Milton Bradley picked up his first Cubs hit, a solo homer against Brewers starter Braden Looper.

That set up Cubs starter Rich Harden to be the winner. Looking as though his troublesome right shoulder was healthy, Harden struck out 10 in 6

innings while giving up 3 hits.

The walks parade Piniella was talking about began in the seventh, but the Brewers didn?t score. Aaron Heilman walked one, Neil Cotts hit a batter, and Carlos Marmol walked one before getting out of the inning.

The chess match went against Piniella in the eighth, when the Cubs had runners on first and third with one out. Instead of pinch hitting for the pitcher the left-handed hitting Micah Hoffpauir against righty Todd Coffey, Piniella went with switch hitter Aaron Miles, who hit into a double play.

"I can?t use (Geovany) Soto," Piniella explained, referring to his injured starting catcher. "I?m already short one player on my bench. They had a left-hander up. They were going to bring in a left-hander, possibly, so we went to a switch hitter. Didn?t work."

Sean Marshall came on to pitch the bottom half, and he walked Prince Fielder before Luis Vizcaino got two outs. Gregg finished the inning by striking out Bill Hall.

After that fateful one-out walk to Duffy in the ninth, Weeks doubled to left over the head of Alfonso Soriano to score Duffy before Gregg uncorked a wild pitch and walked Corey Hart, setting up the game-winner.

On Braun?s grounder, Theriot went to the hole but said he couldn?t get as set as he?d have liked. The play at the plate was close, but even the Cubs agreed home-plate umpire Jim Reynolds made the right call.

"That was the wrong way to act about it, and I was talking to my teammates about that," Hill said. "When you?re caught up in it sometimes, but we wish things had gone a little differently. The tape shows they made the right call, and they usually do."

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 12, 2009

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