Just before the ninth inning Wednesday, a fan in the premium box seats at Wrigley Field sailed a paper airplane into the Cubs' dugout, nearly hitting manager Dusty Baker as he stood near the top step.
Baker was oblivious to the airplane as he watched the end of the Cubs' crash-and-burn 7-5 loss to Florida before a crowd of 39,611.
Angel Guzman pitched five strong innings in his major-league debut, but Scott Williamson's control problems in the eighth inning, a disputed balk and right fielder John Mabry losing a fly ball combined to halt the Cubs' three-game winning streak.
"That's a tough sun field out there," Baker said. "It has been for years. That was just a series of bad events that inning with the leadoff walk and then the balkthe same move [Williamson] uses all the time. I really didn't see where he balked, and then the ball got lost in the sun."
The game was tied 3-3 in the eighth when Williamson walked Josh Willingham leading off.
With pinch-runner Eric Reed on first, first-base umpire Bruce Froemming called a balk on Williamson. After getting a strikeout, Williamson went 0-2 on Dan Uggla before walking him and then threw four straight balls to Chris Aguila to load the bases.
Baker had seen enough and called on Bob Howry, making a double-switch by inserting Mabry in right in place of Jacque Jones. (Jones earlier had helped turn two balls into triples, diving for a Miguel Cabrera liner in the first and letting it roll toward the wall, and nearly colliding with center fielder Juan Pierre on an Aguila fly ball in the sixth that fell between them.) Howry induced Wes Helms to hit a fly down the right-field line that Mabry couldn't handle, allowing it to fall in for a two-run single.
"I lost the ball in the sun," Mabry said. "It was going to be bang-bang."
"All day it was just a matter of us cutting down walks," Baker said. "Walks hurt Angel and walks hurt Williamson in the eighth and a walk hurt Scotty in the ninth. Guys are throwing the ball well. We have to cut down the walks. It seems like every time we walk someone they score."
The Cubs entered the day ranked 13th in the National League in walks allowed, after ranking 13th in that category in 2005.
Trailing by three, the Cubs came back in the eighth, loading the bases with two outs off Franklyn German before Matt Murton singled up the middle to knock in two runs and make it 6-5. But Matt Herges replaced German and caught Jerry Hairston looking at strike three to end the last real threat.
Marlins reliever Ricky Nolasco, the Cubs prospect sent to Florida in the Pierre deal, earned his first major-league victory with two innings of scoreless relief, striking out four batters, including all three he faced in the seventh inning.
Ex-Cub closer Joe Borowski recorded his third save with a scoreless ninth, striking out Mabry and Pierre to end it with a runner on first.
firstname.lastname@example.orgCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun