Finding Ways to Win

Game Twenty-Nine – Cubs 4 Nationals 3 – 10 innings
WP – Ryan Dempster (1-1) LP – Ryan Wagner (0-2) Save – None

wflag.jpg Ryan Theriot tied the game in the bottom of the 9th with a single to right and Daryle Ward hit the game winner in the 10th, a single to left over the drawn in outfield, to give the Cubs the 3-game sweep over the Washington Nationals and a season high 5-game winning streak. Lou Piniella made all of the right calls, emptied his bench and played the 10th inning with a defense that consisted of Alfonso Soriano at 2nd base and Daryle Ward in left field. Matt Murton led off the 10th with a double to left and scored the game-winning run.

Angel Guzman pitched well in his first start of the season, left the game with his team ahead and a chance to pickup his first career win but the bullpen could not hold the lead and gave up 2 runs in the 7th inning that setup the late inning comeback….the first win for the Cubs in extra innings and the first 1-run victory of the season. The Cubs are 5-0 in May for the first time since 1937.

The Cubs tied the game in the 4th inning after back-to-back doubles by Jacque Jones and Mark DeRosa. With 1-out, Jones doubled to left and scored when DeRosa hit a big chopper toward Josh Wilson at short. Wilson charged the ball and it skipped over his glove into left, Jones scored and DeRosa slid head first into 2nd with a hustle double. In the 5th, Alfonso Soriano singled to right to extend his hit streak to 15 games (tied a career high) but Ryan Theriot hit a grounder in the hole at short, Soriano was forced at 2nd and Theriot was safe at 1st. Derrek Lee walked (Lee also singled in the 1st inning to extend his hit streak to 14 games and has reached base in all 29 games this season), Aramis Ramirez followed with a free pass to load the bases. On a 0-1 pitch, Shawn Hill hit the back leg of Jacque Jones to force in Theriot from 3rd (the Cubs scored 4 runs in 2 games without the benefit of a hit). DeRosa followed with the bases still loaded and on a 3-1 pitch grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.

The offense was quiet in the 6th, 7th and 8th innings. Nationals’ reliever Jon Rauch retired all 6 Cubs he faced in his 2 innings of relief. In the 9th, Lou Piniella emptied his bench and the moves he made down the stretch paid big dividends for his club. With Chad Cordero on the mound (Cordero blew his 4th save of the year), Piniella pinch-hit Cliff Floyd for Cesar Izturis. Floyd drew a 4-pitch walk, Piniella called on Jason Marquis to run for Floyd. Daryle Ward pinch-hit for Neal Cotts and on the 8th pitch of the at bat, singled to left (Ward is 2-9 as a pinch hitter this year)….runners on 1st and 2nd, no outs. Soriano popped out to right. After falling in the hole 0-2, Ryan Theriot worked the count to 3-2 and on the 9th pitch of the at bat, blooped a single to right that scored Marquis from 2nd to tie the game. Derrek Lee was intentionally walked to load the bases but neither Aramis Ramirez or Jacque Jones could knock in the winning run.

When the Cubs took the field in the 10th, the defense behind Ryan Dempster consisted of:

  • Derrek Lee – 1B
  • Alfonso Soriano – 2B
  • Ryan Theriot – SS
  • Aramis Ramirez – 3B
  • Daryle Ward – LF
  • Jacque Jones – CF
  • Matt Murton – RF
  • Michael Barrett – C

Dempster did his job in the 10th, with just a “little drama” to setup the bottom of the inning.

Matt Murton doubled to the corner in left; Ryan Zimmerman robbed Michael Barrett of a single to left and possibly the game winner, Henry Blanco pinch hit for Dempster and blooped a single into left (Blanco was the last position player on the bench). Murton hesitated to make sure the ball dropped and Mike Quade held him at 3rd with 1-out. Daryle Ward took a 2-1 pitch over the drawn in outfield to score Murton from 3rd. Ward had two big hits for Piniella off of the bench….exactly what Jim Hendry brought him in to do. Piniella’s bench was 4-6 with a walk, a RBI and 2 runs scored on the afternoon.

Angel Guzman gave Lou Piniella what he needed from his young right hander, 5 quality innings. Guzman threw the ball extremely well and most importantly….he threw strikes (82 pitches, 51 strikes). Guzman was perfect through the first 3 innings and did not allow his first base runner until 1-out in the 4th. Ryan Langerhans singled to left and Ryan Zimmerman followed with the first walk issued on the day by Guzman (both the 2-2 and 3-2 offering from Guzman were very close calls and could have been called strikes). Ryan Church hit a hard single to right that Langerhans could not score on, bases loaded. After throwing 3 straight balls to Brian Schneider, Guzman walked him on a 3-2 count to force in Langerhans from 3rd….the only run he allowed on the day. Kory Casto flied out to center to end the inning. Guzman retired the Nationals in order in the 5th. Guzman allowed 1 runs on 2 hits, walked 2 and struck out 3 in 5 innings of work….a very solid outing and his longest of the year.

Scott Eyre pitched around a leadoff double by Langerhans in the 6th. Eyre continued his early season struggles, had problems with location and does not look confident on the mound. Zimmerman grounded out to 2nd to advance Langerhans to 3rd. After a visit from Michael Barrett, Eyre settled down and struck out Ryan Church with the infield in. Piniella made a visit to the mound and they decided to intentionally walk Austin Kearns. With the go ahead run on 1st, Brian Schneider looked at strike three to end the inning.

Eyre started the 7th and walked Josh Wilson after retiring Casto on a fly out to left. Piniella brought in Michael Wuertz to face Ronnie Belliard. Wuertz walked Belliard, Piniella went to the pen and Will Ohman induced a grounder to 1st by Felipe Lopez. Derrek Lee made a very good play on a ball to his left and threw to Ohman covering 1st for the out….runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd. Dmitri Young was announced as the pinch hitter for Langerhans, Piniella went to his pen again….this time for Bobby Howry. On a 2-1 pitch, Young singled up the middle to score Wilson and Belliard, Nationals lead 3-2. Howry struck out Zimmerman to end the inning.

Howry took the mound to start the 8th and skipped a ball to the plate that hit Ryan Church to lead off the inning. Kearns lined out to the warning track in right but Brian Schneider single to right to put runners on 1st and 3rd with 1-out. Howry was able to induce a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Kory Casto to end the inning.

Other than a walk to Robert Fick, Neal Cotts did his job in the 9th. Ryan Dempster pitched the 10th to earn his first win of the year. Dempster was not sharp, but effective. He worked around a lead off infield single by Ryan Zimmerman and was helped by the wind on a ball off the bat of Ryan Church. Dempster fell behind all 5 hitters he faced but after Zimmerman stole 2nd on a 2-0 count to Schneider, they intentionally walked Schneider to face Casto, who struck out swinging to end the inning.

The win was not textbook but any stretch, but it was hard fought and received contributions from just about every player on the 25-man roster. The Cubs won their first extra inning game (1-3), their first game decided by 1-run or less (1-6) and their first game when trailing after 8 innings (1-11).

The Cubs have an off day on Monday before resuming their homestand on Tuesday night against the Pirates. Ted Lilly is scheduled to take the mound against Ian Snell.

Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver