Game Seventy-Seven – Cubs 6 Rockies 4
WP – Carlos Zambrano (9-6) LP – Jason Hirsh (3-7) Save – Carlos Marmol (1)
The Cubs’ offense scored 5 of their 6 runs in the first 4 innings and gave Carlos Zambrano a very comfortable cushion to work with. Zambrano was very impressive once again and allowed just 2 earned runs in 6 innings of work. Billy Petrick made his Major League debut and Carlos Marmol picked up his first big league save.
Mike Fontenot went 3-for-4 with his 3rd home run of the season. He was 9-for-13 in the 3 game series while extending his hitting streak to a modest 10 games. Mark DeRosa scored the first run of the game, hit a 3-run home run in the 3rd inning and made another fine defensive play in the field, this time filling in at 3rd base for Aramis Ramirez. The Cubs won their 6th game in a row for the first time since 2005 and the sweep of the Rockies was the first at Wrigley Field since 1993. Lou Piniella said after the game, “Winning is like a massage, it is a relaxer.” That is exactly how the Cubs played the 3-game series against the Rockies….relaxed. Lou Piniella received good pitching, great defense and the offense finally started producing runs in bunches. The Cubs also showed major improvements in the fundamentals of the game. The back-to-back sweeps of the White Sox and the Rockies was the first time the Cubs have swept consecutive series since April 2004….3 plus years.
With the wind blowing straight out on Wednesday afternoon, Carlos Zambrano had another fine start and did not give up a home run. He showed his frustration with home plate umpire Dan Iassogna in the 1st inning and did not have a meltdown after not getting the call on several close pitches that appeared to be in the strike zone. Zambrano and Iassogna exchanged words in the 1st inning, with Garrett Atkins at the plate, after he walked Todd Helton. If Zambrano was missing the strike zone it was not by much. He settled down, got out of his 1st inning jam and did not give up a hit until the 3rd inning.
Three of Zambrano’s 8 strikeouts came in the first two innings. After pitching out of the jam in the 1st inning, Zambrano sat the Rockies down in order in the 2nd. Cory Sullivan singled to left with 1-out in the 3rd inning but Zambrano struck out Kaz Matsui and Matt Holliday grounded out to end the inning. Zambrano retired the Rockies again in order in the 4th with strikeouts of Atkins and Brad Hawpe.
In the 5th, Mark DeRosa made a great barehanded play to take away a possible infield single by Troy Tulowitzki but Yoruit Torrealba reached on an infield single….Theriot made a good attempt on a ball hit in the hole at short. Down 5-0, Jason Hirsh hit for himself, he hit back to the mound and Zambrano started a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Cory Sullivan reached on a bunt single to start the 6th. With 1-out, Matt Holliday singled to right, Sullivan advanced to 3rd and for the first time the Rockies had a runner on 3rd. Zambrano walked Todd Helton to load the bases but struck out Garrett Atkins swinging for the second out. Brad Hawpe blooped a 3-2 pitch into right that scored Sullivan and Holiday. Carlos Zambrano struck out Tulowitzki to end the inning and his outing.
Carlos Zambrano once again looked like the ace of the staff.
Billy Petrick made his Major League debut in the 7th and retired all 3 batters he faced. He struck out Willy Taveras for his first big league strikeout and Cory Sullivan swung at strike three for his second. Petrick reached 96 MPH on the gun. Lou Piniella left him in to start the 8th inning and he could not repeat his success. Petrick appeared very aggressive in the 7th and went after the hitters but he walked Matsui to start the 8th. After Holliday and Helton flied out for the first two outs, Garrett Atkins homered into the wind and the ball landed in the basket in left (the wind shifted and was blowing in late in the game) to cut the Cubs lead to 6 to 4. Piniella brought in Will Ohman to face Brad Hawpe and Petrick left the game to a standing ovation. Hawpe grounded to Derrek Lee to end the inning.
Carlos Marmol pitched a perfect 9th with two strikeouts. Ryan Spilborghs grounded out to end the game and complete the sweep
The Cubs have been scoring runs as of late in the 1st inning but they waited until the 2nd to get on the board on Wednesday. Mark DeRosa led off the 2nd with a double to straight away center. With Ryan Theriot at the plate, Jason Hirsh uncorked a wild pitch and DeRosa moved up to 3rd. With the infield in, Theriot singled to center to plate DeRosa.
In the 3rd the Cubs scored 3 runs on 1 hit. Derrek Lee and Cliff Floyd reached on free passes with 1-out. Angel Pagan looked at strike three but Mark DeRosa hit a hanging curve into the bleachers in left center.
Whether or not Mike Fontenot is for real is a debate for another day, because right now he is. The Cubs are winning games and he is helping….and that is all that matters. Fontenot hit his 3rd home run to right with 2 outs in the 4th, and it was not in the basket….it bounced on the walkway behind the right field bleachers.
Mike Fontenot doubled to left to lead off the 7th. Derrek Lee grounded out to 1st, Fontenot advanced to 3rd….it was a productive, fundamental out for Lee. Cliff Floyd walked and Angel Pagan hit a sacrifice fly to left center to score Fontenot. The Cubs scored a run on a hit and played team ball.
The Cubs are without a doubt playing their best ball of the season, six in a row is not bad, not bad at all. But with the Brewers heading to town to start a 3-game series on Friday, well seven would be….
The Cubs have their last day off of the first half on Thursday and will play 10 straight games up to the break. Rich Hill is scheduled to start the series opener on Friday afternoon against the Brewers and one of the top pitching prospects in the game, Yovani Gallardo.