Big League Stew - MLB

A day after ensuring themselves of an unprecedented 17th straight losing season, the Pirates again wrote themselves into the wrong end of the record book against the Cubs.

Thanks mostly to a coincidence of bloops and bleeders, the Cubs tied a major league record Tuesday night by getting eight consecutive hits to start the first inning against Pirates lefty Zach Duke(notes).

Once, twice, eight times a Cubbie.

The Duke Boy (right) finally stopped the onslaught, such as it was, by hitting the bat of pitcher Ryan Dempster(notes), who put down a sacrifice bunt.

Yes, Dempster made the first out on purpose. And, in one of the funniest moments of the baseball season, fans at PNC Park sarcastically cheered their Bucs, who fell behind by seven runs before an out was made and lost 9-4.

And during Arnold Palmer's 80th birthday party, too.

"I really don't know how to explain today," Duke said. "There was one ball hit hard — [Geovany] Soto's ball off the wall — and other than that, things just seemed to find holes. I've got to just flush it out of my mind and move on."

Kind of like the Pirates setting a record Monday for the most consecutive losing seasons for a major North American pro franchise. Just flush it. Could be a Nike T-shirt.

This record isn't nearly as exclusive, but not since the Yankees against the Orioles in 1990 had a team started a game with eighth straight hits. The Cubs actually set the record in 1973 at Wrigley Field against the Pirates, as Paul Sullivan pointed out in the Chicago Tribune. The Phillies, Pirates and Athletics also started a game with eight straight hits.

"It's funny, because Zach is a heck of a pitcher," Theriot said of the Pirates' All-Star. "He's not a guy you want to face on a daily basis. I had the infield hit, and Milton [Bradley] with the bunt, and [Derrek] Lee gets jammed and gets a hit. Things weren't going his way. We were just finding holes."

Here's how the Cubs did it:

1. Theriot — infield single to short.
2. Bradley — push bunt single between first and second.
3. Lee — blooper to very short right field.
4. Aramis Ramirez(notes) — chopper to left for an RBI single that third baseman Andy LaRoche(notes) should have fielded. 1-0 Cubs.
5. Jeff Baker(notes) — chopper through the right side (perhaps the hardest-hit ball so far) for an RBI single. 2-0.
Mound visit by pitching coach
6. Soto — drives one off the top of the wall in right-center for a two-run double. 4-0.
7. Kosuke Fukudome(notes) — slices a two-run double down the left-field line. 6-0.
8. Bobby Scales(notes) — infield single to short, putting runners at first and third. After Ronny Cedeno(notes) dives to make a play, his throw pulls Steve Pearce(notes) off the bag. Umpire appears to miss the call.
9. Ryan Dempster — sacrifice bunt. Runner at third base holds, Scales advances to second.

Sacrifice bunt! Was Lou Piniella even paying attention to what was happening? The Cubs already had scored seven runs and had runners at the corners with no outs. Why give up an out?

The record isn't important, but it's still bad tactics and lazy managing. Maybe Dempster hits a fly ball, or dumps another blooper somewhere.

Hey, everybody else was!

A .118 hitter coming in, the chances of Dempster getting a hit are remote — oh, wait, Dempster DID get an RBI single later in the game.

"I just do as I'm told," Dempster said. "Would've been fun to try though. All the guys on the team are going to fine me."

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