Ramon Ortiz is the latest rent-a-starting pitcher the Cubs had to use in the rotation and he made his debut in Cubbie pinstripes against the Nationals last night. The veteran pitcher promptly got himself into a jam in the first inning, allowing three straight singles to the first three Washington hitters he faced. Then Ortiz’s defense behind him let him down, with Jeff Baker’s throwing error allowing two runs to score and still no outs.
After a strikeout and an intentional walk, the Nationals collected an infield single off the glove of Aramis Ramirez to make the score 3-0 in favor of the home team. The Cubs third baseman almost got the Cubs out of the inning on an unassisted double play, but the third base umpire blew the call as Ramirez dove to the bag to record the out. Despite all the drama, Ortiz was able to get a strikeout to end the frame, and somehow he and the Cubs were able to escape the bottom of the first only down three instead of facing a 0-6 hole.
Ortiz was able to settle down from there and finished with a respectable box score line highlighted by seven strikeouts in six innings of work. He only allowed those three runs in the first despite giving up seven hits and three walks. The Cubs relief corps was able to hold the Nationals scoreless the rest of the way, but the Cubs offense could not overcome the three run first by the Nationals and lost again.
The versus left hander line up that manager Mike Quade assembled was pretty punchless in this game. The Cubs managed seven hits, but only two were of the extra base variety, and they both came in the sixth. Reed Johnson led off the inning with a double and the hot hitting Ramirez brought him along for the ride with his thirteenth home run of the season.
The Cubs will need to win tonight just to have a chance to earn a split in the series, and they will get to do it against a familiar face in Tom Gorzelanny. The former Cub will surely have a little extra in the tank after Jim Hendry and the front office decided this past off season that Gorzelanny was the odd man out in the rotation and put on the trading block.