Game Fifty-Eight – Cubs 2 Braves 1
WP – Rich Hill (5-4) LP – Chuck James (5-5) Save – Ryan Dempster (12)
The Cubs offense managed just two runs in the first two innings of the game and Rich Hill did the rest. Hill faced 28 batters in his 8 innings of work, 4 over the minimum and made just one mistake, a solo home run in the 2nd inning by Andruw Jones. Hill kept the Braves guessing and showed very good command with all of his pitches, especially his devastating curveball. Hill tied a career high with 11 strikeouts on 108 pitches, 78 for strikes.
Alfonso Soriano scored the first run of the game and drove in the eventual winning run in the 2nd inning. Felix Pie extended his hitting streak to 5 games with his RBI single in the 1st inning but Thursday night belonged to Rich Hill. Rich Hill gave up a total of 3 hits in 8 innings with 2 coming off the bat of Andruw Jones. Hill worked around a 4-pitch walk with 2 outs in the 2nd inning and after Jones’ second hit (a single to center) in the 4th, allowed just one more base runner in the 7th, a 2-out single from Matt Diaz that could have been caught by Matt Murton….Murton made a sliding attempt but came up short.
Hill retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced and struck out the side in the 7th….all swinging and at one point he struck out 6 of the 9 batters he faced between the 5th and 7th innings. Hill out pitched Chuck James who settled down after the 2nd inning and allowed just a single hit to Matt Murton in the 6th in his last 5 innings of work.
Alfonso Soriano extended his hitting streak to 7 games with a leadoff triple to start the game….Soriano just missed a home run to right. Felix Pie singled off the leg of Chuck James, the ball rolled into left field and Soriano scampered home for the 1st run. Derrek Lee walked but Matt Murton struck out and Michael Barrett grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Ryan Theriot reached on an infield single with 1-out in the 2nd. Theriot hit the ball into the hole at short and Renteria’s throw pulled Scott Thorman off the bag. Cesar Izturis (1 for his last 19 before the at bat) singled to right and with the hit and run on, Theriot ended up at 3rd. Rich Hill struck out but Soriano came through with a single to left to score Theriot.
Ryan Dempster threw strikes in the 9th….9 pitches, 8 for strikes and sat the Braves down in order to end the game.
The Cubs have not won many close games this season, it was nice to see the offense give Rich Hill just enough to work with. Rich Hill’s overall performance on Thursday could arguably be his best of the year.
Sean Marshall is scheduled to make the start on Friday night against Lance Cormier in the second game of the series.