Vitters gets first hit, RBIs while Raley loses debut

Vitters gets first hit, RBIs while Raley loses debut

Vitters gets first hit, RBIs while Raley loses debut
SAN DIEGO -- Hours before Brooks Raley's Major League debut on Tuesday, the televisions in the Cubs' clubhouse at Petco Park were tuned to the Rangers-Red Sox game to watch Ryan Dempster in his second start for Texas.

Dempster and Paul Maholm were traded one week ago, and are thinking playoffs. On Tuesday, the Cubs lost their third starter when Matt Garza was put on the disabled list with an elbow injury. It's time for kids like Raley to play.

The Padres rudely welcomed the left-hander to the big leagues as Carlos Quentin hit a three-run home run in a 7-4 victory over the Cubs, who lost their seventh straight.

Josh Vitters picked up his first Major League hit and RBIs with a pinch-hit, two-run double in the seventh, but Chicago now has been outscored 38-16 in the last week. How frustrating is it? Starlin Castro slammed his batting helmet in the dugout after flying out in the sixth, and threw his bat after striking out to end the seventh. He's 2-for-24 in his past six games.

"Until he's willing to make some adjustments, it's going to be a constant battle to be a consistent hitter," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Castro, who led the National League in hits last season. "Everything's in between -- the leg kick, all the hand movement and everything. There has to be some adjustments to center baseballs on a consistent basis."

"It's very tough," Castro said. "It's going to be gone tomorrow, hopefully. This kind of thing never happened to me. I don't feel too good about it. I don't know what happened. I was aggressive at home plate."

Raley (0-1) could've used some help. He gave up seven runs on eight hits and three walks over four innings, which is the same number of runs he served up over 29 2/3 innings in five starts in July. Raley posted a 2.12 ERA in July to win the organization's Pitcher of the Month honors. Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio and coach Mike Borzello both remembered the lefty from Spring Training.

"They liked what they saw," Sveum said. "He was a guy who had a lot of poise, could manufacture four pitches, five pitches -- a four seamer, two-seamer, cutter, curveball and changeup. His changeup is probably his best pitch -- an above-average changeup. He's a great athlete, can handle the bat, run really well. He can make things happen because of his athleticism."

During early batting practice, Sveum and Raley, 24, were talking in the dugout. There's not much anyone can say at this point.

"Any guy, for the first time, I don't care what you say, the first inning, the first batter -- hopefully it's the last time your legs ever feel like that, but that's what happens," Sveum said. "He's a pretty poised kid who can make things happen. You hope he keeps the ball down. We've all been impressed with him. That's why he's here."

Raley had some butterflies.

"I was definitely nervous," he said. "It was a good one to get out of the way. I learned a lot out there. It didn't go as I drew it up, but I'm going to get better."

He did strike out the first batter he faced, Chris Denorfia. Then, Raley got into trouble in the third when the Padres loaded the bases with none out, aided by Ross Ohlendorf's leadoff single and a bunt hit by Logan Forsythe. Chase Headley hit a two-run single, and Raley then walked Quentin to load the bases again. Two outs later, Everth Cabrera hit a two-run single for a 4-0 lead.

"It turned into a tough outing," Sveum said. "One little mistake, taking a pitcher for granted, and a routine bunt play gone awry changed the whole game around."

San Diego had two on and two outs in the fourth to set up Quentin's 12th home run and open a 7-0 lead. Quentin now is 9-for-18 against the Cubs this season.

"He's killed us, no doubt about it," Sveum said. "He's strong, and unfortunately, we can't get the ball inside on him."

Raley will get another start. He wasn't invited to big league camp this spring, and began the season at Double-A Tennessee. On Tuesday, he joined plenty of his Triple-A Iowa teammates in the Cubs' big league clubhouse.

"Seeing Vitters and Jackson and [Alberto] Cabrera and [Jeff] Beliveau, it's definitely a positive thing to see the young guys up here," Raley said. "They're doing well, and I'd like to join on the boat, too."

Luis Valbuena and Darwin Barney hit back to back doubles in the fifth, and Steve Clevenger added an RBI single in the seventh. After Vitters' pinch-hit double, the Cubs had two on and one out, but both Brett Jackson and Castro struck out. For Jackson, he's now whiffed eight times in 11 at-bats.

"We had something going there, but we're having trouble getting those big hits in the later innings when we get people on base," Sveum said. "We're not getting the big boys to come through in big situations."

With the addition of Raley, the Cubs have used 46 players, five shy of the club record set in 2000. Only six remain from the 2011 Opening Day roster, including Alfonso Soriano. He likes having the kids around.

"They make me young," said Soriano, who was a late scratch with a sore right hand. "They make me young and I can pay them back by teaching them how to play the game."

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.