Cubs overcome ugly start with comeback

CHICAGO -- “Oh, rallies,” Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum said with a laugh when asked how good the ninth inning rally was for the Cubs. “I thought you said Raley.”

Looking at starting pitcher Brooks Raley’s four-inning, seven-run line on Thursday, you can understand Sveum’s confusion when he misheard the question. The Cubs managed to come back from a 9-3 deficit to win 12-11 in dramatic fashion over the Milwaukee Brewers. But there wasn’t much good about Raley’s performance.

“Those guys got to learn how to pitch at this level,” Sveum said of rookies such as Raley. “You can’t just … throw a 3-0 pitch, an 0-0 pitch and think you’re gonna get away with it right down the middle. It’s gotta be a quality pitch in the big leagues all the time. These guys are the best hitters in the world. These are things we’re talking about with development.”

Raley allowed two home runs in the tough outing and brought his season total to seven home runs allowed in 24 1/3 innings while ballooning his ERA to 8.14. Though he wasn’t happy with his performance, Raley, whose outing on Thursday was his last of the season due to an innings limit, still took some positives from his season.

“Starting in Double-A and getting here has been a huge opportunity and a blessing,” Raley said. “Hopefully I’ll build off this this offseason, get better and in spring training be ready to go.”

Prior to the game, Sveum said Raley is a candidate for the rotation. Raley said everything he does in the offseason will be oriented toward achieving that goal.

While Raley’s outing wasn’t one to remember, the Cubs managed to have one of their best offensive performances of the season.

“When we can walk 11 times, you know there was some grinding going on in nine innings,” Sveum said. “That was pretty impressive, there were some great at-bats. Guys saw a lot of pitches, got the counts and ended up getting some hits in those situation.”

Sveum has been stressing the need for more players on the roster to follow David DeJesus’ lead and work the count. DeJesus came into Thursday’s game seventh in the NL with 4.08 pitches per plate appearance and immediately kicked things off with his usual patient ways by taking a 10-pitch walk to lead off the first inning. That was a trend for the afternoon, as the Cubs’ 11 walks were a season high and forced Brewers’ pitching to toss 205 pitches.