Coming Up Big

Game Thirty-One – Cubs 1 Pirates 0
WP – Jason Marquis (5-1) LP – Tom Gorzelanny (4-2) Save – None

wflag.jpg Lou Piniella needed a solid outing from Jason Marquis but what he received was just short of perfection. Marquis retired the first 16 batters he faced and on the night he allowed just 3 hits in route to his 2nd career complete game shutout. Marquis ended the game the way he started it, with a strikeout and in between he dominated the Pirates.

Alfonso Soriano hit the second offering of the game by Tom Gorzelanny over the left field wall for his first home run as a Cub at Wrigley Field. The Cubs offense had chances to add to their lead, they left the bases loaded twice but the lone run in the 1st inning was all Jason Marquis would need to win a pitcher’s duel that took just 2 hours and 6 minutes to complete.

Jason Marquis’ performance on Wednesday night is even more remarkable considering he faced the same Pirates team just a week ago. Marquis appeared to be very confident with his game plan and for the second outing in a row did not allow a single walk while striking out 5 on 110 pitches….73 for strikes. He was perfect through 5 1/3 innings before allowing a single to Don Kelly. Marquis retired Gorzelanny on a sacrifice bunt and induced a grounder off the bat of Chris Duffy to end the threat in the 6th. In the 7th he worked around a 2-out double by Ryan Doumit and in the 8th he did not allow Jose Bautista to advance past 1st after a 1-out single to right center. Matt Murton made a strong throw to hold him to a single and Marquis took care of the rest. Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee both made fine defensive plays on the evening as well.

Lou Piniella left Marquis in to finish the game after the Cubs failed to get to his spot in the order in the 8th. Marquis responded with a perfect 9th and retired the last 5 Pirates he faced. Last year it took the Cubs 149 games to record their first complete game (Rich Hill), this year it took just 31….thanks to Jason Marquis.

Alfonso Soriano hit his 34th career leadoff home run in the 1st inning that extended his hitting streak to 17 games (all 3 of Soriano’s home runs have come off of Pirates’ pitching) and that was the only mistake Tom Gorzelanny made all night. The Cubs managed 8 hits and 3 walks but just the lone run while leaving 10 on base.

In the 2nd Michael Barrett doubled to left (Barrett was 2-3 on the night, both doubles) but was stranded at 2nd. After going down in order in the 3rd, Derrek Lee singled to left to lead off the 4th. Lee’s single extended his hitting streak to 16 games and he has reached base in all 31 games the Cubs have played this season with hits in 29 of 31 games. Aramis Ramirez flied out to right and Xavier Nady robbed Matt Murton of at least a double. Barrett followed with his second double on the night and Lee advanced to 3rd. The Pirates intentionally walked Mark DeRosa to load the bases. Jacque Jones grounded out to end the inning.

Ryan Theriot added a 2-out single in the 5th but did not advance. In the 6th, Murton reached on a 1-out infield single, advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch with 2-outs and Mark DeRosa at the plate. Gorzelanny (intentionally/unintentionally) walked DeRosa and retired Jones on just one pitch. The Cubs went quietly in the 7th but in the 8th they had a chance to give Marquis a little breathing room.

Aramis Ramirez singled to center with 1-out off of Shawn Chacon. Murton followed with a double to right center on a 3-1 pitch. Barrett was intentionally walked to load the bases. DeRosa hit a grounder to 3rd that Bautista was able to throw home to erase Ramirez and Jacque Jones ended the inning by grounding out to John Grabow, who threw home for the last out. Jacque Jones had a night he would soon like to forget.

While the Cubs offense did not come through with runners in scoring position, it must be said that Tom Gorzelanny pitched a very good game, one that he would win on a any other day.

After Marquis’ performance last Wednesday one of the questions was, how can he top that? Well….he answered that with authority.

With the win the Cubs are guaranteed a winning homestand (4-1) and are back over .500 with Carlos Zambrano scheduled to take the hill in the finale. Two games above has a nice ring to it.

Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt