Lee-ding the Way

Game Forty-Five – Cubs 3 Padres 1
WP – Bob Howry (2-3) LP – Cla Meredith (1-2) Save – Ryan Dempster (10)

wflag.jpg A simple single to centerfield by Derrek Lee started the 9th inning and by the time the Padres recorded the third out, the Cubs scored 2 runs and salvaged the last game of the series in San Diego. Lee’s single was his first of the series and he scored the eventual winning run on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Cliff Floyd.

Jason Marquis and Chris Young each allowed just one run and neither pitcher figured in the outcome. Marquis had another tremendous outing for Lou Piniella and threw pitch for pitch with Chris Young who did not allow his first hit until the 5th inning. Bob Howry and Ryan Dempster threw two perfect innings in relief and the Cubs picked up a much-needed win.

The Cubs had a few opportunities before the 9th inning to give Jason Marquis his 6th win of the season but could not capitalize against Chris Young. Young allowed just 1 run on 3 hits in 7 innings while striking out 10 (a new season high) and walking 2. Young struck out 5 of the first 9 he faced on Thursday night and was perfect after 4 innings of work.

Aramis Ramirez led off the 5th with a double over Mike Cameron’s head in center. Michael Barrett followed with a double to right that scored Ramirez to tie the game. Jones grounded out to 2nd but Barrett was unable to advance and later took 3rd on a wild pitch. After Ryan Theriot walked to put runners on the corners with 2 outs, Jason Marquis struck out swinging to end the inning.

Alfonso Soriano led off the 6th with a triple to right center but was stranded at 3rd when the inning ended. Chris Young was very impressive all night, but especially at this point of the game. Young struck out the heart of the Cubs order to end the inning….all swinging strikeouts of Mark DeRosa, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. With Trevor Hoffman just a phone call away, the Cubs started the 9th against Cla Meredith.

Derrek Lee led off the inning with a single to center; Aramis Ramirez followed with a single to left center, but Lee got a great jump off of 1st and the Cubs had a very good chance to score a couple of runs with runners on the corners and no outs. Cliff Floyd hit a grounder to the right side, a tailor made double play ball, but for some reason Marcus Giles threw to the plate. Lee got a good jump off 3rd and slid around Josh Bard to give the Cubs the lead….Giles did the Cubs a favor and opened it up for a big inning.

Michael Barrett reached on a perfectly placed bunt single and with the bases loaded Jacque Jones stepped to the plate. Jones hit a high chopper that was fielded by Adrian Gonzalez and he was able to throw home to force Ramirez. Ryan Theriot followed and for the second time in the inning, the Cubs gave the Padres a way out of the inning. Theriot hit the ball hard and Kevin Kouzmanoff bobbled it and was only able to step on the bag at 3rd for the force….Angel Pagan (Pagan pinch ran for Cliff Floyd) scored on the play for the second run of the inning. Matt Murton pinch hit for Bobby Howry and looked at the final strike from Heath Bell.

Much as been made about the importance of Derrek Lee to the Chicago Cubs, and one can look at this series against the Padres for further proof.

Jason Marquis helped end the Cubs losing streak at PETCO Park (0 for their previous 6 games in San Diego) and if not for the shutout performance of the Pirates, his outing on Thursday against the Padres would be his best of the season. Marquis was able to get into a rhythm and when he did get into trouble he was able to throw a double play ball to get out of the inning….the Cubs defense turned three on the night.

Marquis set down the Padres in order in the 1st inning with two strikeouts….Marcus Giles and Jose Cruz, Jr. Adrian Gonzalez led off the 2nd with a double to right center and advanced to 3rd on a fly out to right by Khalil Greene. Josh Bard singled to left to score Gonzalez and after the third hit of the inning by Kevin Kouzmanoff, Terrmel Sledge grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. Marquis allowed 5 hits on the night and 3 of them came in the 2nd inning.

The Padres went in order in the 3rd and Marquis erased a walk in the 4th to Gonzalez with a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Khalil Greene. Other than a 2-out single to Sledge in the 5th, Marquis was very sharp and struck out Chris Young to end the inning. Marquis began to show some fatigue in the 6th. Cruz, Jr. singled with 1-out and Bud Black stayed out of the double play with a hit and run. Mike Cameron grounded out to Theriot at short but was unable to end the inning with the ground ball. Adrian Gonzalez was intentionally walked and Marquis struck out Greene to end the inning.

Marquis took the mound in the 7th but did not appear as comfortable as he had and fatigue appeared to really be setting in (94 pitches on the night, 55 for strikes). After retiring Josh Bard to start the inning, he hit Kouzmanoff and walked Sledge before receiving a visit from Lou Piniella. Marquis was left in to face Geoff Blum who was pinch-hitting for Chris Young. Blum grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and Marquis’ outing.

Marquis pitched 7 very strong innings, gave up a run on 5 hits, walked 3 (one intentional) and struck out 5. While Marquis did not receive the win, maybe Thursday’s performance will be the start of another winning streak.

Bobby Howry earned the win after a perfect 8th and it took only 7 pitches for Ryan Dempster to retire the Padres in the 9th for the save….both Howry and Dempster did their jobs and it was refreshing to see.

The Cubs head to the City of Angels for a 3-game weekend series against the Dodgers. Ted Lilly is scheduled to take the mound and the Dodgers are expected to send Derek Lowe to the hill. Friday will be the first time the Cubs have seen Juan Pierre with his new team.

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon