Game Twenty-Five – Cubs 8 Pirates 6
WP – Rocky Cherry (1-1) LP – Jonah Bayliss (2-2, BS – 1) Save – Ryan Dempster (5)
After nearly a 16 hour delay, the comeback the Cubs started on Tuesday night ended with a victory. Rocky Cherry recorded his first career win and Lou Piniella received solid contributions from every member of the outfield. Bobby Howry finished the 7th and Ryan Dempster picked up a 4-out save. The Cubs added two very important insurance runs, once play resumed, that turned out to be the difference in the game. Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez have been doing their part all season, to the point of Lee leading the majors with a .406 batting average and third in the National League with a .478 OBP, but on Tuesday night in the rain, Lee and Ramirez received support from their teammates in the outfield. Alfonso Soriano had his best game as a Cub….3-4 with a home run, a double, 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored. Soriano hit his first home run of the year to lead off the game for the 33rd time in his career. But not to be outdone Jacque Jones, Cliff Floyd and Matt Murton had big roles in the comeback before the game was suspended after a 2 hour and 18 minute delay.
Jacque Jones hit his first home run of the season in the 2nd inning with 1-out and at the time it cut the Pirates led to 3-2. In the 3rd, Soriano led off the inning with a dribbler to short that Jack Wilson could not get out of his glove. Floyd popped out ahead of Derrek Lee’s single to center. Soriano advanced to 3rd but Aramis Ramirez hit into a 6-4-3 inning ending double play. Other than a Jones’ walk in the 4th, the Cubs offense was rather silent until the 6th inning.
Lee hit a ground rule double to right that hit just inside the line and bounced into the stands for a ground rule double. Ramirez grounded out to 3rd and with Michael Barrett at the plate, Tony Armas threw a ball in the dirt, Lee broke for 3rd but the ball actually hit the home plate umpire in the leg and Lee was thrown out at 3rd. With the rain becoming a factor with every pitch, it looked like the Cubs would drop their second game in a row to the Pirates.
Jim Tracy lifted Tony Armas before the 7th; John Grabow retired Jones and Mark DeRosa rather quickly and efficiently. Cesar Izturis followed with a 2-out single to right and scored on Matt Murton’s pinch hit double to straight away center over Chris Duffy’s head. Soriano followed with a double to left (the 250th of his career) off a 0-2 pitch to score Murton. Cliff Floyd followed with his 2nd home run of the season that landed into the Allegheny River. Derrek Lee doubled to right, Ramirez was intentionally walked but Barrett grounded out to short to end the inning.
In the 8th, Jacque Jones doubled and scored on an infield single by Matt Murton and in the 9th, Ryan Theriot doubled to lead off the inning and scored on a single by Derrek Lee.
Ted Lilly pitched better than his numbers indicate. The Cubs defense cost him at least 2 earned runs and an unofficial total of 3 on the night. Four of the five runs the Pirates scored with Lilly on the mound came in the first two innings of the game with only 3 balls leaving the infield. Lilly struck out 5 on the night, gave up a home run to Ronny Paulino and walked in a run….but he threw strikes, of the 86 pitches he threw, 69 were for strikes. The Pirates put their lead off hitter on base in 4 of the 6 innings Lilly started.
Chris Duffy singled to right in the 1st inning, advanced to 2nd on a bunt single by Jack Wilson and the Pirates loaded the bases when Ted Lilly slipped on the attempted sacrifice by Freddy Sanchez. Jason Bay looked at strike three but after a great at bat (9 pitches), Ryan Doumit worked a walk to score Duffy. Jose Bautista followed and Lilly appeared to get out of the inning. Lee fielded the ball, threw to Izturis but the return throw was high, Lilly could not catch it, the ball ended up in the dugout and 2 runs scored (Bautista appeared to interfere with Lilly, but the ball was uncatchable). Adam LaRoche grounded to 3rd, Ramirez tried to tag Bautista, threw to first and Lee stretched as far as he could to record the out.
In the 2nd, Paulino singled to left to lead off the inning. Tony Armas tried to sacrifice him to 2nd but Barrett threw to 2nd and the ball ended up in center. Chris Duffy was retired on an excellent play by Ted Lilly. Duffy bunted toward 3rd, Lilly slipped for the second time but threw him out at 1st while sitting on the ground. Jack Wilson hit a sacrifice fly to score Duffy. With Armas at 2nd, Sanchez singled to center but Jacque Jones was able to throw out Armas at the plate….for whatever reason he did not slide.
Lilly retired the Pirates in order in the 3rd and LaRoche to start the 4th. Ronny Paulino hit a solo home run to left center on a 0-2 count to end the Pirates scoring before the rain delay. Michael Barrett threw out Jack Wilson in the 5th to stay out of a jam but Lilly was not able to finish the 6th. Doumit was robbed of a double by Ramirez but he could not throw him out. Bautista hit into a 5-4 fielder’s choice but after a bloop single to left by LaRoche, Piniella went to the pen for Rocky Cherry.
Cherry threw two pitches and recorded two outs. Paulino grounded into a 4-6 fielder’s choice and Jose Castillo grounded out to 3rd to end the inning. Bobby Howry, Will Ohman and Ryan Dempster all had fine outings, despite the run Dempster allowed in the 9th.
The Cubs ended a 4-game slide to the Pirates and the win by Cherry gave the bullpen its first victory of the year….the last team in the majors to record a win by the bullpen and in the process improved their record to 2-9 in games decided by 2 runs or less.
Derrek Lee’s double in the 6th put him in rare company. Lee doubled for the 7th straight game and became only the 7th player since 1957 to hit a double in seven consecutive games.
Jason Marquis is scheduled to wrap up the series and the road trip against Ian Snell, the game is scheduled to start shortly….stay tuned.