The Cubs lead the Major Leagues with 24 come-from-behind wins, but came up short on Tuesday night as the Baltimore Orioles held off a late surge to post a 7-5 Interleague victory in front of 41,537 at Wrigley Field.
Brian Roberts, rumored all offseason to be traded to the Cubs, looked right at home at Wrigley, going 3-for-5, including an RBI triple. The loss snapped the Cubs' home winning streak at 14 games, the longest since a two-week stretch, June 4-July 10, 1936.
They had to overcome a 7-1 deficit. Kosuke Fukudome had accounted for Chicago's only run with a solo homer in the fourth. In the seventh, Jim Edmonds belted a three-run homer, driving in Derrek Lee and Ramirez, who both singled. Ramirez added an RBI single in the eighth.
Then the ninth. Trailing 7-5, Geovany Soto singled off O's closer George Sherrill, Mark DeRosa walked, and Ryan Theriot loaded the bases with an infield single. But Sherrill struck out Ronny Cedeno, Fukudome and Henry Blanco for his 26th save.
"He bore down and made some good pitches to get some guys out," Chicago's Daryle Ward said of Sherrill. "I've never seen him before, but I've heard guys saying that he had a pretty good cutter working. He was hitting his spots. That's tough to beat. We still gave ourselves a chance. One lucky hit somewhere, and it's a different ballgame."
Everyone on the Cubs bench and in Wrigleyville thought another comeback was in the works.
"I think two outs, nobody on, you still feel like you have a chance," Theriot said. "The good news is we did fight back from a pretty good-sized deficit and we gave ourselves a chance. We were scrapping and fighting until the end."
Cubs manager Lou Piniella was muttering before he got to the postgame interview room. He doesn't like losing.
"We're not going to give up," Piniella said. "The team doesn't give up. We didn't have three good at-bats with the bases loaded. We didn't swing at strikes."
"We couldn't find a way in the last inning to get one hit," Blanco said. "It's part of the game. We'll try to get them tomorrow."
Sean Marshall (0-1), called up from Triple-A Iowa to take injured Carlos Zambrano's spot in the rotation, took the loss. The left-hander struck out seven but also gave up seven hits over 4 2/3 innings.
"Overall, it felt good," Marshall said. "I didn't get away with a couple pitches that I wish I could have gotten away with. It was good to see the guys battle back. We had a good chance to win. It just shows the heart on this team and what we're capable of."
The Orioles had a 4-1 lead going into the sixth when Luke Scott blooped a ball in shallow center that Theriot appeared to have his eye on, but he backed off at the last second and it dropped beyond left fielder Eric Patterson's outstretched glove for an error. One out later, Alex Cintron hit an RBI double, and he scored one out later on Roberts' triple. Nick Markakis followed with an RBI single to make it 7-1.
What happened on the play?
"I called it a little bit late, and when I hear an outfielder call it, I'm getting the heck out of the way," Theriot said. "It's one of those things, no-man's land, you have three guys going after the ball, and it's just one of those things that happen in the game."
In case you were wondering, Tom Hellman, the Cubs' clubhouse manager, did not cook on Tuesday night. He had been preparing all the meals during the winning streak. The Cubs weren't blaming him.
"You can't win every day," Ramirez said. "We had a great series against the White Sox and we played a pretty good game tonight. We just came up short."