As the wild Wrigleyville winds swirled directly out for the first time this year, the Cubs were served a bitter reminder of just how powerful a problem a high-octane offense like the Reds’ can pose.
Starter Glendon Rusch didn’t help the conditions, giving up four home runs and putting the Cubs in an early hole with Cincinnati scoring on a solo shot in each of their first four innings. The Reds tallied six dingers in the game.
Among the homer-happy brigade was Reds starter Bronson Arroyo, the winning pitcher and part-time rocker who launched his second career home run in as many starts against the Cubs this season.
Lee, who agreed to an extension believed to be worth $65,000,000 prior to the game, hit a run-scoring double to end the Cubs scoreless drought in the eighth inning.
“He’s revolved into one of the better players in the game and a rare guy that’s pretty much a five-tool player at a position that usually doesn’t [feature] those tools,” General Manager Jim Hendry said at a press conference announcing the extension. “We’re thrilled to wrap him up for a long time.”
Last week, Lee had set a Saturday deadline for the Cubs to meet his and agent Casey Close’s demands before extending that deadline in the belief that a deal was soon forthcoming.
By Monday evening, it was.
“The negotiations were handled in a very professional way,” added Hendry, who on Saturday received a contract extension himself good for two years through the end of the 2008 season. “He has a very fine representative in Casey Close. Derrek was involved in a lot of the discussions himself and he and I have a very good professional relationship ... Hopefully, he will be here for a long time helping us accomplish the goals we want to accomplish.”
Lee said it was important to stay with the Cubs because of his fondness of the team and the challenge of trying to accomplish the ultimate goal.
“I want to be on that team that wins the World Championship here in Chicago and sees this city go crazy,” he said.
Hot-hitting Michael Barrett smacked a ninth inning solo home run, his third roundtripper in as many games to finish off the Cubs scoring.
Rusch (0-2) left after five innings. Four of the five hits he allowed either landed in the bleachers or on Waveland Avenue in his second loss to the Reds to open the year. Left-hander Will Ohman gave up the back-breaker, a sixth-inning grand slam to run the ransom to 8-0.
Adding insult to injury (or more accurately injury to insult), Jacque Jones left the game in the sixth inning with a strained left hamstring. He will be examined by team doctors to determine the extent of the injury.
Game two of the three-game series is scheduled for Wednesday at 1:20 p.m. (CDT). Greg Maddux will face Brandon Claussen with the broadcast provided by WGN. The Cubs are 4-2 in their first six contests this season and 7-11 against the Reds dating back to the start of 2005.
Contact Frank North: firstname.lastname@example.org.