Friday Night Fireworks

Game Sixty – Cubs 6 Reds 5

wflag.jpg Greg Maddux earned career victory number 325, Henry Blanco drove in 3 runs, Aramis Ramirez doubled into the lights and Ryan Dempster somehow pulled out his 10th save of the season after a nail biting finish in Cincinnati on Friday Night. The Reds lost their first game since Maddux beat them on May 30th but there were several key plays and an otherwise good game played by the Cubs that will be lost due to the near loss in the 9th inning. Ryan Dempster was staked a 2-run lead and did not start pitching until he had already thrown 32 pitches in the inning. After walking the bases loaded, Dempster walked Ryan Freel to force a run home then struck out Felipe Lopez, got Brandon Phillips to line out to Ramirez at 3rd and on the first pitch, Ken Griffey, Jr. grounded out to Tony Womack to end the ballgame.

The Cubs needed the win and they played a good game led by Greg Maddux but the bullpen made it very interesting against the Reds explosive offense….no lead is ever safe when you are playing the Reds and they proved that point on Friday night.

Greg Maddux pitched a great game and made a couple of very good plays with his glove as well. Maddux only threw 66 pitches and only allowed 2 runs on 4 hits but could not make it through the 6th inning. Maddux was very efficient all night, he looked comfortable and in command. He made only two mistakes until the 6th, a home run to Adam Dunn in the 2nd inning that a Cub fan actually threw back onto the field….it was great to see and all the Reds fans were making fun of the Cub fans at that point….one guy remarked “he could have sold that ball for beer money”. Maddux did not allow another hit until the 5th, another home run off the bat of Scott Hatteberg. Maddux was just being Maddux all night and it was great to see.

The 6th inning did not start off the way he wanted and gave up a leadoff double to Ray Olmedo and he should have scored on a single to right off the bat of Felipe Lopez but Jacque Jones came up firing and made his best throw from right field as a member of the Cubs, it was a perfect strike. Brandon Phillips then lined out to Jones in right, he came up firing again and although the throw was up the line a little, Jones executed the play perfectly and kept Olmedo from scoring. Dusty went to the pen and brought in Scott Eyre and Matt Murton. With Ken Griffey at the plate, Henry Blanco threw out Lopez attempting to steal 2nd and Griffey eventually walked after a 10 pitch at bat. Eyre got Rich Aurilia to check his swing and pop up to Womack to end the inning. Eyre did his job and kept the 3rd run of the game from scoring for the Reds.

The Reds did add 2 more runs in the 7th off of Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry but it was the 9th inning that will keep everyone talking. Dempster has been less than consistent this season and Friday night was more of the same. It seems the first batter he faces is a good indication of what kind of result he will have and Friday night was no exception. Dempster walked Adam Dunn on 5 pitches and the look on Aramis Ramirez’s face was that of total disgust. I was sitting right behind the Cubs dugout and the entire team seemed to do that….Ramirez was more noticeable. David Ross then singled to center and that was his 4th hit as a pinch hitter and in 6 pinch hit at bats he has reached all 6 times with 4 hits, 2 walks, 5 RBI’s and 4 runs. Dempster then walked Javier Valentin to load the bases and walked Ryan Freel to score Dunn to cut the Cubs lead down to just one run….keep in mind Dempster had yet to record an out. When Dempster walked Freel I thought Ramirez was going to throw his glove, like a scene from the Bad News Bears. Dempster then settled down and with the crowd chanting “Dumpster” he struck out Felipe Lopez looking with a 3-2 count and Aramis Ramirez made a very good catch on a line drive by Brandon Phillips that almost ended the game on a double play….Ramirez kinda crawled/lunged for the bag and almost got there. Griffey came to the plate and hit the first pitch to Tony Womack to end the ballgame. Why did Griffey swing at the first pitch?

The Cubs offense got back on track and pounded out 12 hits against Reds pitching and was helped by a ball lost in the lights….the difference in the game. Henry Blanco had a huge night and was responsible for the first 3 runs of the game for the Cubs. Jacque Jones singled to right center with 1 out in the 2nd inning and Ronny Cedeno beat out a tapper to 3rd ahead of Blanco’s double to plate both runs. In the 4th Aramis Ramirez led off the inning with a double to right center and Jacque Jones recorded an infield single on a shot off the glove of Brandon Phillips at 2nd and with 1 out and the bases loaded, Blanco hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Ramirez….but it was the 3-run 7th that was the difference in the game.

Blanco collected his second hit of the evening on a single down the 3rd base line that Aurilia knocked down but was unable to get Blanco at 1st. Murton then flied out to center, but why was he not bunting? Womack singled and Juan Pierre should have hit into and inning ending double play but Lopez made a bad throw and Pierre was safe. Walker singled to right to score Blanco and Aramis Ramirez hit a towing pop up to right field and from the moment it left the bat….you knew it was trouble. Austin Kearns never saw the ball, lost it, tried to catch it on a very ugly attempt, hurt himself and Ramirez was given a double and 2 RBI’s….the difference in the game.

Was this a pretty win? Until the 9th inning, yes it was. The Cubs left 7 on base and grounded into a double play. They were 4-11 with RISP and 3-6 with RISP and 2 outs. They ended their 3-game slide and put up almost as many hits on Friday night then they had over that span. This was a good win in front of a sellout crowd 41,064….but just don’t ask Derrek Lee about the kiss cam.

Hopefully Carlos Zambrano will pitch like he did against Houston last Monday night….

Maddux Warms Up Before the Game

Juan Pierre Safe at Second

Maddux Departs In Line for #325

Bobby Howry Goes to Left for his First Hit

Click Here for the CCO Photo Gallery from Friday Night Under The Lights

Quote of the Day

"Pitching is the cornerstone of most championship teams." – Roger Craig

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