Game Twenty-Eight – Cubs 5 Nationals 3
WP – Rich Hill (4-1) LP – John Patterson (1-5) Save – Ryan Dempster (7)
Good teams find different ways to win ballgames, the Cubs offense appeared flat for the first time in nearly a week but because of a very good outing by Rich Hill and a lot of patience at the plate, the Cubs evened their record on the season at 14-14 and won a series at Wrigley for the first time this year. The road back to .500 has been a long one, the win on Saturday gave the Cubs a season high 4-game winning streak.
Aramis Ramirez hit his 6th home run, Alfonso Soriano extended his hitting streak to 14 games and Derrek Lee singled and walked to extend his streak of reaching base in all 28 games this season but the difference in the game was the four walks in the 3rd inning that forced in 3 of the 5 runs the Cubs scored on the afternoon. Rich Hill had another fine outing despite not pitching into the 7th inning for the first time this year. Hill seemingly retired the first two batters in the first 2 innings with ease before surrendering 2-out hits in each of the frames. In the 3rd inning after sitting down John Patterson, he hit Felipe Lopez before striking out Ronnie Belliard. Ryan Zimmerman followed with a single to left. With runners on 1st and 2nd and 2 outs, Hill walked Ryan Church to load the bases. Hill received a visit from Lester Strode (Strode was filling in for Larry Rothschild who was attending his son’s first communion). On a 1-0 pitch and the bases loaded, Austin Kearns flied out to Jacque Jones in deep center (the wind appeared to knock down a sure grand slam) to end the inning.
Dmitri Young popped out to Ryan Theriot to start the 4th inning (Theriot and DeRosa actually bumped into one another, the ball popped up in the air and on the second attempt, Theriot gloved it). Jesus Flores followed with a bloop single to right but Hill retired Kory Casto and struck out Michael Restovich to end the inning. Hill retired the Nationals in order for the only time in the 5th. The lone run the Nationals managed on the day against Rich Hill came in the 6th.
Ryan Church led off the 6th with a double to right center, Kearns followed with a single to right that put runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs. Young hit a grounder to Theriot who stepped on 2nd and threw to Lee for the 6-3 double play, run scored. On a 3-1 count, Flores flied out to left to end the inning. Hill finished the day after throwing 93 pitches, 59 for strikes. He gave up the one run on 6 hits, walked 1 and struck out 4. Hill picked up in May where he left off in April….with another solid performance.
Will Ohman started the 7th and struck out the first two batters he faced (Casto and Langerhans) before giving up an infield single to Felipe Lopez. Piniella brought in Rocky Cherry to face Ronnie Belliard. Lopez stole 2nd and advanced to 3rd on a passed ball by Michael Barrett but Cherry was able to retire Belliard on a fly out to left. In the 8th the Nationals mounted a comeback.
Ryan Zimmerman led off the 8th with a double to center, Cherry struck out Ryan Church but Austin Kearns doubled to left on a ball Soriano could not make a play on that allowed Zimmerman to score. Piniella made the slow walk and brought in Neal Cotts. Cotts walked Robert Fick before receiving a visit from Lou Piniella (Piniella gave another “pep” talk after a nice little jog from the dugout). Flores followed with a double into the Nationals bullpen in right that scored Kearns and put runners on 2nd and 3rd with just 1 out. Cotts settled down and struck out Casto and Langerhans to end the inning.
Ryan Dempster threw a 1-2-3 9th inning to record his 7th save on the season. The bullpen received some work in the game and Piniella managed it well but they made what appeared to be an easy win a lot more interesting than it should have been.
The Cubs were actually out hit by the Nationals 10-8 but they walked 8 times on the day while Cubs’ pitching surrendered just 2. Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano could not cash in on a couple of RBI opportunities, including two chances for Lee with the bases loaded….hey, there is a reason no one has hit .400 or above since Ted Williams in 1941.
Ryan Theriot walked in the 1st inning with 1-out but was thrown out trying to steal 2nd. Derrek Lee followed with a single to left, Aramis Ramirez singled to right and Jacque Jones singled to right center to score Lee….1 run on 3 hits with 2 outs and if the Cubs can keep hitting and scoring runs with 2 outs, the “W” flag will continue to fly.
In the 2nd, Matt Murton reached on a throwing error by Lopez, ended up at 2nd with the ball landing in the stands and moved to 3rd on a single to left by Mark DeRosa. Rich Hill sacrificed DeRosa to 2nd but Soriano struck out swinging. Theriot walked to load the bases ahead of Lee grounding out to 3rd to end the inning. The 3rd inning was one that is likely not to be repeated any time soon.
Aramis Ramirez led off the inning with a home run into the basket in left, Jones singled to right and Barrett singled to left. Matt Murton worked a 3-1 count before John Patterson left the game with an arm injury. Levale Speigner took over, threw a strike to Murton before walking him to load the bases. Speigner threw 4 pitches to DeRosa, all balls and walked in the first run of the inning. Rich Hill followed, worked the count to 3-1 but Speigner’s control problems continued and he walked Hill to force in another run (the RBI given to Hill was the first of his career). Soriano struck out swinging but Theriot worked his 3rd walk on the day to force in the 3rd run via the free pass on the inning. Lee grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. Speigner threw 24 pitches, 8 strikes.
The offense had a couple of other opportunities but could not cash them in and failed to score another run after the 4-run 3rd inning.
With a 162-game schedule, teams often take the field on days when they “just don’t have it” and they cannot get into a rhythm. Saturday was one of those days and it was good to see the Cubs win a game under those circumstances.
Angel Guzman is slated to make his first start of the season on Sunday with a chance to give the Cubs a sweep and put his team a game above .500 for the first time since April 7th….the Cubs have won 7 out of their last 8.