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Piniella taking heat for Cubs' Game 1 loss

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Chris Ruddick Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella is taking a lot of heat in the Windy City this morning for his decision to pull ace Carlos Zambrano after just 85 pitches in the seventh inning of the Arizona Diamondbacks' 3-1 win in Game 1 of the NLDS at Chase Field.

Piniella stated after the game he lifted Zambrano because: A. His bullpen has been incredible the last month or so, and, B. He wanted to bring Zambrano back on three days' rest for a Game 4 matchup.

"I've got a good bullpen here, okay, and I trust my bullpen," Piniella said. I'm bringing back a pitcher on three days' rest on Sunday, and I took a shot with my bullpen. It didn't work today. They've done it all year. I've got confidence in them, period, end of the story."

So in a 1-1 game in the seventh, Piniella pulled Zambrano in favor of right- hander Carlos Marmol, who promptly served up a tiebreaking solo home run to Mark Reynolds before allowing another run later in the frame.

Lou Piniella
Lou Piniella made a questionable decision.
Of course, this decision is not even being discussed today had Marmol done his job.

Sure you have to stick with what got you there. The Cubs' bullpen has been tremendous here down the stretch, especially Marmol, who pitched to a 1.43 ERA on the season and had only given up runs in just one of his last 20 regular season outings.

And, as a Cubs fan, who do you want on the hill in Game 4 - Zambrano or Jason Marquis? When you look at it like that, it really is not that much of a decision.

But, then again why worry about a Game 4 when you have to win Game 1?

CUBS CAN'T WEAVE THROUGH WEBB

Lost in the hoopla of the Piniella decision was a truly great performance from reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb. The sinkerball specialist held the Cubs to just a run on four hits in seven innings. He also struck out nine batters, while walking three.

"I knew it was going to be a low scoring game, so I had to bear down and made some good pitches and got some good strikeouts," Webb said after the game.

Chicago's big three of Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez combined to go 1-for-13 with five strikeouts.

"The reason we didn't win this game was we scored one run on four hits," Piniella added. "You're not going to win on the road, or you're not going to win anywhere scoring four hits on one run. I give their pitching credit, but that's probably the story of the ballgame."

LOOKING AHEAD

One of the Chicago Cubs prized offseason acquisitions gets the call in Game 2, as they try even this best-of-five set up at a game apiece. Ted Lilly signed a four-year, $40 million and more than lived up to his contract, going 15-8 with a 3.83 earned run average.

The left-hander, who is 0-2 lifetime against the D'Backs, is no stranger to the postseason, having pitched in four playoff games with the Oakland Athletics from 2003-03. In the 2003 ALDS he threw nine scoreless innings.

Arizona, meanwhile, will pin its hopes on veteran lefty Doug Davis, who was 13-12 with a 4.25 ERA in his first year in the desert. Davis, acquired in an offseason trade from the Milwaukee Brewers, struggled the first half of the season, but was 8-2 with a 4.24 ERA after the break.

Davis, who will be making his first postseason appearance tonight, beat the Cubs the only time he faced them this season, giving up a run and six hits in seven innings. For his career he is 7-5 against them with a 3.39 ERA in 13 starts.
Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.
Chris Ruddick


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