Ted Lilly struggled, the offense sputtered, and Arizona looked like the best team in the National League as Chris Young hit a three-run homer to spark the Diamondbacks to an 8-4 victory Thursday over the Cubs. The D-backs now boast a 2-0 lead in the National League Division Series, and the Cubs may have only one game left.
"We're disappointed -- this is tough," Chicago's Derrek Lee said. "We wanted to come in here and get one, and now we've backed ourselves in a corner. We can't lose. It's do or die for us. We have to find a way to get it done."
The best-of-five series shifts from the desert to Wrigley Field, and Arizona can clinch with a win on Saturday. Since Wild Card play began in 1995, no National League team has ever come back after losing the first two games. Twenty-seven teams have held a 2-0 lead in a best-of-five Division Series, and of those 27, only four went on to lose (the 1995 Yankees, '99 Indians, '01 Athletics, and '03 Athletics).
"I don't care about history," Lee said. "We have one choice, play better or go home. None of us are ready to go home."
Especially Lilly. The lefty struggled with his command, serving up six runs, seven hits and four walks over 3 1/3 innings to take the loss.
"I think I was overthrowing a little bit, and the effect of that was being up in the zone, and it's something I'll have a hard time with," Lilly said. "I want to get another opportunity and try to redeem myself. I didn't do us much good in a big game.
"You look at the season, and I could care less about how many games I won. Winning here, this is what it's all about. It's not going to be easy to swallow. I'm going to continue to work for the next few days and prepare for Tuesday."
Tuesday would be Game 5, if necessary.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella took some heat for pulling starter Carlos Zambrano after six innings in Game 1 when the score was tied. Lilly seemed like the perfect choice for Game 2. The lefty was 9-1 after a loss during the regular season. But against Lilly, the Diamondbacks looked like one of the best hitting teams in the National League, not the worst.
The Cubs now are hitting .179 in the series. Ouch.
"I think we are pressing," Chicago's Aramis Ramirez said. "As a team, we're trying to do too much. We're trying to hit two home runs in one at-bat, and that's not going to happen."
The Cubs' big three of Ramirez, Lee and Alfonso Soriano were a combined 1-for-13 in Game 1, and went 3-for-14 on Thursday.
"It's not one guy, or three guys, it's the whole team," Ramirez said. "We haven't hit the way we'd like to, and that's the bottom line. We haven't played the way we'd like to."
"I'm not doing anything," Lee said, "and I've got to find a way to do something. I haven't been hitting -- obviously."
"I think everybody is trying too much," Soriano said.
The Cubs did get on the board first against Doug Davis (1-0). Matt Murton reached on an infield single that third baseman Mark Reynolds knocked down to lead off the Chicago second. Geovany Soto, starting because of his throwing ability and power, followed with a home run to left to go ahead, 2-0.
It's only the second home run by a Cubs rookie in the postseason, and first since Frank Demaree did so on Oct. 2, 1932, against the New York Yankees.
But the Diamondbacks snuffed the Cubs' momentum in their half of the second. Chris Snyder singled to lead off, and Justin Upton walked. Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild chatted with Lilly briefly on the mound, and the lefty struck out Augie Ojeda. Both runners advanced on Davis' sacrifice, setting up Young's homer off a 3-2 pitch from Lilly.
As the ball sailed, Lilly spun and slammed his glove to the ground.
"I believe if I locate that ball, I get a good result," Lilly said. "In that situation, when he's looking fastball there and I throw it up and over the plate, he's very capable of hitting four-seam fastballs. It's hard for me to expect a good result.
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"Me showing my frustration there -- it's the biggest game I've pitched all year. My expectations are to be more effective than I was today."
Piniella said he'd never seen a pitcher throw his glove the way Lilly did.
"I have zero excuses," Lilly said. "The fact of the matter is I didn't get the job done. If I really wanted to find excuses, I could come up with [something], but that's not going to get me anywhere."
Stephen Drew then singled and scored on Eric Byrnes' triple off the left-field wall to make it 4-2. Drew gave the D-backs a 6-2 lead in the fourth with a two-run triple, and Lilly was pulled.
Rookie Kevin Hart walked two batters in the Arizona fifth, and both scored as Ojeda hit an RBI single and Upton tallied on Davis' sacrifice. Pinch-hitter Daryle Ward closed the gap to 8-4 with a two-run double with two outs in the Chicago sixth.
"We're going home," Piniella said. "We've got our home fans, and we've got a chance to get it back here with a couple wins, and that's exactly what we're going to try to do."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less