Game Fifty-Nine – Cubs 9 Braves 1
WP – Sean Marshall (2-2) LP – Lance Cormier (0-2) Save – None
Alfonso Soriano hit three home runs in the first four innings of the game and gave Sean Marshall more than enough run support to earn his second win of the season. The Cubs offense showed a lot of patience at the plate with the second run of the game being scored off of a bases loaded walk to Mark DeRosa. The Cubs walked 7 times on Friday night with all but two starters receiving a free pass.
Sean Marshall was not as sharp as his last start against the Braves but was just as effective. Marshall allowed one earned run in 6 solid innings of work, struck out the side in the 3rd and lowered his ERA to 2.08 on the season. The Cubs won their third in a row and have won five of their last six. Alfonso Soriano swung at the first 5 pitches he saw from Lance Cormier and connected on 3 of them. Soriano hit the first pitch of the game into the right field stands for the 35th leadoff home run of his career. Soriano then deposited Cormier’s second offering in the 2nd inning over the left field wall and after falling behind 0-2 in the 4th inning, Cormier hung a breaking ball and Soriano hit it out to left….4 of Soriano’s 10 home runs this season have come off of Lance Cormier. The Cubs pounded out 15 hits, scored in all but 3 innings and every starter recorded at least one hit….while Sean Marshall did not reach base safely, he did lay down two successful sacrifice bunts that led to manufactured runs.
Felix Pie and Alfonso Soriano have provided the Cubs a very good 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup since Pie was recalled before last Sunday’s game against the Braves….both Pie and Soriano extended their hitting streaks, six and eight games respectively. While Soriano supplied the power, it was Pie’s hustle in the 1st inning that got the line moving.
After Soriano’s blast, Felix Pie struck out swinging on an inside pitch from Cormier, but the ball got away from Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Pie beat out the throw to 1st. Derrek Lee and Michael Barrett walked to load the bases. Mark DeRosa (deja vu anyone?) stepped to the plate and worked a walk to score Pie from 3rd with the 2nd run of the game. Jacque Jones grounded back to Cormier, but his throw to the plate was high and Saltalamacchia was only able to touch home for the force out. Ryan Theriot struck out and Cesar Izturis grounded out to 1st to end the inning.
With 1-out in the 2nd, Soriano hit his 2nd homer of the game. Felix Pie walked and stole 2nd on a 0-1 pitch to Derrek Lee and with 1st base open the Braves decided to walk Lee and take their chances with Barrett. Unfortunately for the Cubs Barrett grounded into a 5-3 double play to end the inning.
Ryan Theriot singled to center with 2 outs in the 3rd, stole 2nd and advance to 3rd on a throwing error by Saltalamacchia. Izturis worked a walk but Marshall grounded out to 1st to end the inning. Soriano led off the 4th with his 3rd homer of the game and 2 outs later Michael Barrett added a home run to left to chase Cormier from the game. Bobby Cox brought in Oscar Villarreal and after back-to-back singles to center by DeRosa and Jones, Theriot flied out to right to end the inning.
Cesar Izturis (2-4 with a walk and 2 runs scored) doubled to left to lead off the 5th. Marshall sacrificed him to 2nd and Soriano was intentionally walked. Felix Pie came through with a sacrifice fly to left to score Izturis and Lee grounded out to 2nd to end the inning. Michael Barrett led of the 6th with a single to left, stole 2nd and was stranded in scoring position.
Izturis reached on an infield hit to start the 7th, moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt by Marshall and advanced to 3rd on a ground out by Soriano. Pie singled to center to score Izturis. With Derrek Lee at the plate, a passed ball by Saltalamacchia allowed Pie to advance to 2nd. Lee reached on an infield single to 1st and Pie scored on a throwing error by Scott Thorman.
Jacque Jones singled with 1 out in the 8th but was erased on a 1-4-3 double play off the bat of Ryan Theriot. The Cubs last run came in the 9th after Izturis reached on the Braves 3rd error of the game. Izturis hit a tapper in front of the plate, Saltalamacchia picked it up threw to 1st but Thorman could not make the catch. Pagan grounded to short but beat out the throw to 1st. Soriano singled to left and was thrown out at 2nd by Matt Diaz, Soriano was trying to stretch a single into a double….it was the only bad decision Soriano made in the game. Pie came through again with a single to right that scored Pagan.
The Cubs recorded at least one hit in every inning.
Sean Marshall appeared to be out of sync early. He could not get into a rhythm and worked around a 19-pitch 1st inning that saw him throw just 9 in the strike zone. After retiring Kelly Johnson to start the game, Yunel Escobar singled to center and Marshall walked Edgar Renteria to put runners on 1st and 2nd with 1-out. Andruw Jones flied out to Pie in left center and Marshall retired Jeff Francoeur on a come-backer to the mound to end the inning….Marshall actually lost the ball momentarily but found it in time to throw out Francoeur at 1st.
Alfonso Soriano robbed Matt Diaz of a hit to start the 2nd inning on a shoestring catch and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a deep fly out to center for the 2nd out of the inning. Marshall retired Scott Thorman on a ground out to Lee at 1st to end the inning. After striking out Lance Cormier to begin the 3rd, Kelly Johnson tripled down the 1st base line. Escobar hit a grounder into the hole at short that was bobbled by Izturis after he appeared to take his eye off the ball while checking on Johnson….Izturis was not charged with an error. At that point the Cubs were up 3-1 and Marshall struck out Edgar Renteria and Andruw Jones to end the inning….both were of the swinging variety.
Marshall retired 10 in a row before giving up a 2-out walk to Jones in the 6th. Francoeur followed with a single to center but Diaz grounded out to short to end the inning and Marshall’s outing. Marshall threw 94 pitches in 6 innings, 61 for strikes and won his second consecutive start.
Will Ohman threw strikes in the 7th and gave up a 2-out single to pinch hitter Willie Harris. Carlos Marmol retired the Braves in order on 13 pitches in the 8th and Michael Wuertz gave up a bloop single over Theriot’s head to Diaz and threw 12 pitches in the 9th. The Braves recorded 6 hits on Friday night, only 1 was for extra bases and Cubs pitching gave up just 2 free passes while striking out 6.
With the win, the Cubs are within 5 games of .500.
Jason Marquis and Tim Hudson are scheduled to face off on Saturday night. Marquis will be looking to put a win on the board against the team that drafted him.