Young relief corps takes lumps as Cubs fall late

Young relief corps takes lumps as Cubs fall late

Young relief corps takes lumps as Cubs fall late
CHICAGO -- The Cubs' young bullpen is learning about life in the big leagues the hard way.

Carlos Ruiz hit a tiebreaking home run with one out in the eighth off Shawn Camp, and Hector Luna came out of nowhere to add a pinch-hit grand slam in a six-run ninth off Michael Bowden, powering the Phillies to a 9-2 victory Wednesday over the Cubs.

Before the game, Cubs manager Dale Sveum talked about how the bullpen was still having a few hiccups. Camp (2-2) had been one of the more reliable relievers, but with the game tied at 2 and one out in the Phillies' eighth, Ruiz connected on a 1-1 pitch. It was only the sixth time in 18 outings Camp gave up a run, and it was the second homer off him in 21 innings.

Scott Maine, called up from Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday, started the ninth and gave up a double, hit a batter and walked a batter to load the bases. It was a tough day for Maine, who traveled Tuesday from Sacramento to Las Vegas to Kansas City by plane, then took a bus to Des Moines, packed his stuff, and got on another plane Wednesday for Chicago.

"That's no excuse," Maine said of possible jet lag. "I just let some pitches get away today and let things build too fast and didn't slow it down. I don't know if it's because I'm tired. Tomorrow's another day."

Bowden took over for Maine and gave up a two-run single to Ty Wigginton. Two outs later, Bowden intentionally walked Ruiz and Luna, who last played in the Major Leagues in 2010 with the Marlins, homered for his first hit with the Phillies in his first at-bat with the team. It was his first career grand slam.

"It's Bowden's first time in the [National League]," Cubs starter Matt Garza said. "He's not familiar with all the hitters, and especially when it's a guy I didn't even know they had. I feel I'm one of the most prepared guys, and I didn't know they had Hector Luna on the roster."

Said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel: "Luna done signed off."

With the loss, the Cubs' bullpen now is 5-11 this season. Garza, who exited with the game tied at 2, said the relief corps can deal with the setbacks.

"You're [ticked] off and you're going to get back up and make sure it doesn't happen again," Garza said of their approach. "That's the kind of guys we've got -- guys who won't quit, won't hide or put their tails between their legs. They'll come back tomorrow and work their [backsides] off and make sure the [stuff] doesn't happen again. That's what we've got and that's what we need here.

"Every time [Sveum] takes the ball from me, I have no regrets. I trust these guys every time out."

Garza was making his second start since missing one turn because of the flu. He had a tough time last Friday in Milwaukee after the 12-day layoff and lasted five innings. On Wednesday, he went 6 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on eight hits. It was his 15th straight start at Wrigley Field in which he's allowed three or fewer earned runs.

Throwing it over the plate was no problem. Getting the ball to first was a little tricky. Juan Pierre bunted on Garza in the first, and he bounced the throw to first baseman Bryan LaHair for an error. Pierre bunted again in the third, and Garza again bounced the ball to LaHair.

"The first one, I had no time," Garza said. "[Pierre] was out of the box, I think, before I even released the ball, so I just picked it up and flipped it over as quick as I could.

"The second one, I get up and I'm about to throw it, and [Geovany Soto] tells me, 'Don't throw it, don't throw it,' and I was like, 'I'm already going forward,'" Garza said. "Right there, if you're thinking about 'don't throw it' and you're going, you're not going to throw it where it needs to go."

Soto checked on Garza after the play, but the pitcher was fine.

"I said, 'That was hilarious,'" Garza said. "I said, 'You tell me [not to throw] and I'm already going through the motions.' It's not a big thing. I'll keep going. If all teams are going to do is bunt against me, we're going to have some quick games. I'm not too worried about that. They'll have to hit a single to score."

Sveum was asked if Garza's yips were more of a mental problem than physical.

"I'm not a psychologist," Sveum said. "I don't know what it is."

The Cubs' only runs came in the fourth on Alfonso Soriano's second homer in as many games, and second of the season. That was a good sign.

"A lot of home run hitters and prolific guys like that are streaky," Sveum said.

There will likely be more growing pains with the Cubs' bullpen.

"The fact of the matter is we have guys pitching in roles they probably shouldn't be pitching in," Sveum said. "It's tough. They've never had to do this before, and they're thrown into this mix all of a sudden, and it's not the easiest thing to do."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.