Cubs: New players, another loss

Top draft picks made debut Sunday
Cubs: New players, another loss

Top draft picks Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters got a typical Chicago Cubs’ welcome to the major leagues: Chicago blew three leads and lost 7-6 to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“I thought we were going to get a little magic for our first game, but we’ll save that for a later date,” Jackson said. “It was exhilarating, but I was disappointed with the loss.”

The outfielder, taken with the 31st overall selection in the 2009 amateur draft, was 2 for 4 with a pair of singles and a walk. Vitters, a third baseman taken third in 2007, pinch hit in the seventh inning and flied to left.

Both were brought up Sunday from Triple-A Iowa.

“We were so tired and out of it because we didn’t get any sleep,” Vitters said. “We were like zombies on the plane. We couldn’t really think. It was hard to be nervous. That made it a little bit easier. We tried to sleep so we could perform well when we got here.”

Both are California products. Jackson was drafted from Cal-Berkeley and Vitters from Cypress High School in Cypress, Calif.

“I’ve just been soaking it in,” said Jackson, who had two putouts, including Shane Victorino’s drive to the warning track in the seventh. “I was thrown into the game and was in game mode all day. I’m sure it will sink in more tonight. I caught myself laughing a couple times, like: `You’ve got to be kidding me right now.’ It’s a pretty indescribable feeling — inspiring. I look forward to the days and hopefully years to come.”

Chicago, 43-63 and out of contention, trailed 6-5 before hot-hitting rookie Anthony Rizzo homered against closer Kenley Jansen. leading off the ninth.

Shawn Camp (2-5) walked Matt Kemp on four pitches with one out in the bottom half, Andre Ethier singled Kemp to third, and Hanley Ramirez hit a game-ending single to left over a drawn-in infield.

Ramirez is batting 10 for 42 (.238) with 11 RBIs in 11 games since he was acquired from the Miami Marlins.

“I like these moments. That’s why I’m here for, to help this team win ballgames,” Ramirez said. “I’m not trying to do too much — just take what they give you — and that’s the key for me. I was looking for a fastball in, so I just wanted to slow down everything and turn quick on it.”

The Cubs took a 2-1 lead in the sixth on a two-out homer by Welington Castillo against Joe Blanton, who was making his Dodgers debut after Friday’s trade from Philadelphia.

Los Angeles went ahead 4-2 in the bottom half on Scott Maine’s bases-loaded walk to pinch-hitter Juan Rivera and a two-run single by Luis Cruz. Justin Germano had hit Mark Ellis with a 3-2 pitch and rookie Alberto Cabrera walked Matt Kemp and Ramirez.

“Unfortunately, in the sixth and seventh innings, you can’t put five guys on without any hits,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “That was probably the difference in the game.”

Germano was charged with two runs and three hits in 5 1-3 innings on the eve of his 31st birthday. The right-hander was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to help fortify a rotation depleted by Matt Garza’s triceps injury and the trades of Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm.

Blanton allowed two runs and five hits in six innings, struck out five, and tied a season high with three walks. The homer by Castillo was the league-leading 23rd off the right-hander.

“I felt like I kept the ball down, except for that one mistake,” Blanton said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to focusing on — keeping the ball down, because I’ve been messing up and giving up a lot of homers.”

Blanton, who gave up only 18 walks over 133 1-3 innings in his 20 previous starts this season, issued one in each of the first three innings. The only one that cost him was his first-inning leadoff walk to David DeJesus, who scored on Rizzo’s one-out single.

Alfonso Soriano put the Cubs ahead 5-4 in the seventh with a two-run single against Javy Guerra, who came in after Randy Choate gave up Rizzo’s sacrifice fly. Rizzo has 21 RBIs in 33 games since his recall from the minors on June 26.

“The vision is winning,” Rizzo said. “That’s what this whole organization has its vision on. At the end of the day, as long as a `W’ comes, it doesn’t matter who’s here. There’s probably a 16-year-old in a few years who will be up here. It doesn’t matter if it’s him or a 40-year-old veteran.”

NOTES: Garza was sent home by the Cubs, who plan on putting him on the 15-day DL. … The Cubs traded reserve INF Jeff Baker to Detroit for two players to be named after the Tigers claimed Baker off waivers. OF Tony Campana was optioned to the Cubs’ top farm club. … Former Dodgers pitching great Don Newcombe, currently the club’s special adviser to the Chairman, will be presented with the Beacon of Hope Award when the team is in Atlanta for the annual Civil Rights game on Aug. 18.