Game Sixty-Six – Cubs 4 Padres 1
WP – Ted Lilly (5-4) LP – David Wells (3-4) Save – Ryan Dempster (15)
Ted Lilly appeared to be on his way to another early exit after he struggled with his command in the 1st inning. Lilly settled down after a visit from Derrek Lee and ended with a gem. Lilly regained his early season form and surrendered just 1 earned run on 6 hits in 8 strong innings of work. The run Lilly gave up came with controversy as a fan changed the direction of the ball and it ended up in the ivy in right field. The “fans” in attendance on Friday afternoon had their hands in two different plays that could have changed the outcome of the game.
Mike Fontenot had another big game for Lou Piniella’s crew. Fontenot drove in 3 of the 4 Cub runs on the afternoon, a sacrifice fly in the 4th and a 2-run home run in the 6th. Derrek Lee was 4-for-4 and set a career high with 3 doubles. Alfonso Soriano hit his 11th home run of the season onto Waveland in the 6th as well. The Cubs turned in another fine defensive game and it was highlighted by two excellent plays in the 4th inning by Mark DeRosa at 3rd base. Of the 25 players on Lou Piniella’s active roster, 8 of them were not with the big club when the Cubs broke Spring Training back at the end of March. All of the call-ups have contributed to the Cubs playing better baseball of late and have given the team energy and a much-needed spark.
After striking out Hiram Bocachica to start the game, Ted Lilly could not find the strike zone. He gave up a bloop single to Jose Cruz, Jr. and then walked Adrian Gonzalez on 4 pitches. Lilly then proceeded to fall behind Mike Cameron, 3-0, before receiving a visit from Derrek Lee. Lilly threw his first strike to Cameron before retiring him on a fly out to left center that was caught by Alfonso Soriano (Soriano and Pie appeared to have communication problems on the play). With Josh Bard at the plate, Cruz stole 3rd, but Bard popped out to Mike Fontenot to end the inning.
Lilly settled down after the 1st inning and retired the next 10 in a row with help from Mark DeRosa who made a fine play on a bad hop to retire Mike Cameron for the second out in the 4th. Josh Bard doubled to left with 2 outs in the 4th and DeRosa robbed Khalil Greene of a RBI and probably a double. DeRosa dove to his right, snagged the line drive and ended up in foul ground….a Web Gem nominee if there ever was one.
Lilly sat the Padres down in order in the 5th but gave up a double to Bocachica to lead off the 6th (the third hit on the day). Cruz flied out to left and Adrian Gonzalez hit a triple into the ivy in right, with a little fan interference. Cliff Floyd drifted back to the wall and appeared to be in line to catch the ball, but a “fan” reached over the basket and changed the course of the ball. The ball ended up in the ivy and Floyd reached in for it (at Wrigley if the ball ends up in the ivy, the outfielder is supposed to raise their arms and it will be ruled a ground rule double. But if the outfielder reaches in, the ball is still in play and the runner can keep advancing), Gonzalez ended up at 3rd and the Padres tied the game. Floyd made a big deal out of it and Piniella discussed with the umpires about calling fan interference but the play stood and the so-called fan was shown the exit.
With the go ahead run at 3rd and 1-out, Lilly settled back in and made a great pitch to Mike Cameron and he popped out to Derrek Lee for the second out. Bard swung at the first pitch and flied out to shallow right, on a good running catch by Fontenot, to end the inning. Lilly gave up a single to Greene to start the 7th but Chase Headley hit into a 6-4-3 double play and Blum popped out to Lee at 1st to end the inning. The 6th and final hit of the day came in the 8th, a lead off single by pinch-hitter Russell Branyan, but Lilly buckled down and retired the next three batters he faced to end the inning, with the last out being a swinging strikeout of Adrian Gonzalez.
Ted Lilly gave up a run on 6 hits in 8 innings with a walk and 3 strikeouts. Ryan Dempster threw 11 pitches in the 9th and retired the Padres in order for the save.
The Cubs offense got off to another slow start after loading the bases with 2 outs in the 1st inning. Derrek Lee and Cliff Floyd reached on singles and DeRosa walked but Michael Barrett swung at the first pitch and flied out to center. Derrek Lee hit his first double of the day with 2 outs in the 3rd but was stranded at 2nd when Floyd struck out to end the inning.
After his two great defensive plays in the top of the 4th, Mark DeRosa led off the bottom half of the inning with a double to right center and moved to 3rd on a single by Michael Barrett (2-for-4 with a run scored). Mike Fontenot hit a sacrifice fly to right on a 0-2 pitch to score DeRosa from 3rd. Ryan Theriot followed with a single to left but Lilly popped out on a bunt attempt and Soriano flied out to end the inning.
Derrek Lee hit a double into the well in left with 1-out in the 5th. The ball appeared to land in the basket but a “fan” interfered with the ball and touched it with his glove. The umpires discussed the play and the ball hawk was ejected from the park….and Lee was stranded at 2nd after David Wells retired both Cliff Floyd and Mark DeRosa on pop outs in the infield.
Michael Barrett led of the 6th with a single and Mike Fontenot hit a home run into the basket in left center on the first pitch from Wells. After two ground outs, Alfonso Soriano hit a monster shot to left that ended up on Waveland Avenue. Derrek Lee added his third double in the 7th but after a walk to Floyd, DeRosa grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and Barrett popped out to 1st to end the inning.
Friday was another solid, complete game for the Cubs against a first place team. The Cubs won their third in a row and have won 7 of their last 10.
Carlos Zambrano will take the mound on Saturday at 12:05pm against Chris Young. And for those who will be in attendance, please keep your hands to yourself and wait for the ball to come to you…a souvenir is great but a Cubs’ win is better.