Game Sixty-Four – Cubs 3 Mariners 2
WP – Sean Marshall (3-2) LP – Miguel Batista (7-5) Save – Ryan Dempster (14)
Sean Marshall notched the longest outing of his big league career and Mike Fontenot ended the Cubs’ drought with the bases loaded. Fontenot’s 2-out single proved to be the game winner in the 5th and Sean Marshall did the rest. Marshall kept the Mariners off balance all night while not allowing a walk and posted his 5th quality start in as many tries.
The Cubs offense managed 9 hits, all singles, with the first run being scored off a RBI groundout by Cliff Floyd in the 3rd inning. Sean Marshall gave the Cubs’ bullpen a much-needed night off and Ryan Dempster pitched a perfect 9th for the save. While the win was not flashy, the Cubs played a solid game and recorded a win against a very good team at Wrigley Field. While Sean Marshall is listed as the Cubs’ 5th starter, he is proving every time out that labels are meaningless at the Major League level. Marshall not only picked up his third consecutive win but pitched very efficiently. Marshall threw just 94 pitches in 8 innings, 65 for strikes, and kept the ball down. Marshall recorded 16 groundouts to 7 fly outs and the solo home run by Richie Sexson was the only extra base hit he allowed on the night.
While all is well that ends well, Sean Marshall’s night did not start the way it ended. Marshall gave up an infield hit to Ichiro to start the game, because he failed to cover 1st base. After a passed ball by Koyie Hill and a wild pitch of his own, Ichiro stood at 3rd base with just 1-out. But Jose Guillen hit a grounder to Mark DeRosa at 3rd and for some reason, Ichiro broke for the plate and was caught in a run down and eventually tagged out (5-2-5-1). Guillen reached 2nd base during the run down but was stranded there when Raul Ibanez flied out to center to end the inning.
Richie Sexson led off the 2nd with a home run to left center and Marshall pitched around a 1-out single to left by Yuniesky Betancourt. Marshall retired the next 6 batters he faced before giving up a single to Sexson but Kenji Johjima grounded in to the first 6-4-3 double play on the night for the Cubs to end the inning. Marshall retired the next four batters he faced before Ichiro stepped to the plate in the 6th.
The Cubs had taken the lead in the 5th, 3-1, but Ichiro led off the inning with a triple to right center. Felix Pie was playing Ichiro in left center and made a nice play to cut the ball off before it rolled to the ivy but in the process he kicked it and Ichiro ended up at 3rd. Jose Lopez grounded out to short to score Ichiro and after an infield single by Guillen, Marshall got out of the inning with the second 6-4-3 double play on the night.
Marshall retired 6 of the next 7 batters he faced, giving up only an infield single to Ichiro in the 8th that was misplayed by Ryan Theriot at short. Marshall was tremendous once again and Ryan Dempster was perfect in the 9th….it only took 11 pitches for Dempster to record the 27th out.
The Cubs offense was given 5 walks by Miguel Batista and two of them scored. Felix Pie walked twice and scored on his second free pass in the 3rd. Pie walked with 1-out and advanced to 3rd on a single to left by Derrek Lee (2-3 with a walk and a run scored). Raul Ibanez was slow getting to the ball and with the play in front of Pie….he took advantage with his speed. Ibanez actually slipped on the throw and the ball ended up in foul ground with Lee advancing to 2nd on the miscue. Cliff Floyd stepped in and Batista threw one wide of the plate on his first pitch but Pie could not score. Floyd worked the count to 3-2 before grounding out to 2nd to plate Pie to tie the game.
Mike Fontenot (2-4 with 2 RBI’s) reached on an infield single with 1-out in the 4th and Koyie Hill singled off the glove of Sexson at 1st….and the hustling Fontenot ended up at 3rd. Sean Marshall did not attempt a sacrifice bunt (?) and eventually struck out swinging. Alfonso Soriano looked at strike three to end the inning.
In the 5th, Felix Pie led off the inning with a single to center but was caught stealing 2nd base (the first time he has been caught stealing at the Major League level). Derrek Lee singled to right and Floyd flied out to center for the second out of the inning. Mark DeRosa worked a walk and Ryan Theriot reached on a throwing error by Betancourt to load the bases. On a 1-2 pitch, Mike Fontenot ended the Cubs’ struggles with the bases loaded (0-5 on Tuesday night) and singled to right past a diving Jose Lopez….Lee and DeRosa scored.
Alfonso Soriano might benefit from a day off….Soriano is 0-21 since Tim Hudson hit him last Saturday in Atlanta.
As Bob Brenly said as WGN signed off, it was a “Clean Win”. The Cubs improved to 5-13 in 1-run games and to 11-21 in games decided by 2 runs or less.
The Cubs will go for the series win on Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley. Former teammates, Jason Marquis and Jeff Weaver will square off in the series finale.