Game Sixty-Nine – Cubs 5 Rangers 4
WP – Carlos Marmol (2-0) LP – Joaquin Benoit (2-2) Save – Ryan Dempster (16)
Sean Marshall was ineffective for the first time this season and Lou Piniella had to go to his bullpen in the 5th inning. They responded with their best outing of the year. Carlos Marmol, Bobby Howry and Ryan Dempster threw 5 perfect innings in relief of Marshall and struck out 9 of the 15 batters they faced. Carlos Marmol set the tone for the pen and struck out the Rangers in 5th after Ian Kinsler’s 2-run homer off of Sean Marshall tied the game. Marmol struck out 5 of the 9 batters he faced, all swinging. Ryan Dempster struck out the side in the 9th for the save.
Alfonso Soriano had a good night in his first game back in Arlington after being traded to the Nationals. Soriano drew a bases loaded walk in the 4th that drove in the 4th run of the game for the Cubs. Felix Pie had a 2-run triple in the 3rd inning with 2 outs but it was Derrek Lee’s 2-out double in the 6th inning that scored Mike Fontenot for the game winner.
Sammy Sosa was 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts in his first regular season game against the Cubs since being traded in 2005.
Sean Marshall left after facing two batters in the 5th inning. For the first time this season Marshall did not give Lou Piniella a quality start. He gave up 3 home runs, walked 3 and struck out 4 in 4+ innings of work. Marshall looked very good at times but left too many balls up in the zone, especially to Ian Kinsler who hit 2 of the 3 home runs off of Marshall. Brad Wilkerson hit the other long ball and all 4 runs Marshall allowed came via home runs.
After retiring Kenny Lofton to start the game, Kinsler homered to left and Marshall retired Michael Young and struck out Sammy Sosa to end the inning. Marshall appeared to settle down in the 2nd and sat the Rangers down in order but Wilkerson homered to the upper deck in right to lead off the 3rd. With 1-out, Marshall walked Lofton and Kinsler and received a visit from Larry Rothschild. Marshall responded and struck out Young and Sosa to end the inning.
Gerald Laird reached on a bunt single with 2 outs in the 4th, Wilkerson walked and Marshall retired Travis Metcalf on a groundout to DeRosa to end the inning. Kenny Lofton led of the 5th and on a 3-2 pitch, singled to right….Kinsler followed with his second homer to left on a pitch that was right down the proverbial main street. Piniella had seen enough and went to his pen for Carlos Marmol.
Marmol was just plain nasty. He struck out the Rangers in order to end the inning….Young, Sosa and Byrd. He took the mound again in the 6th and struck out Victor Diaz to start the inning and retired Laird and Wilkerson to end the frame. In the 7th, he retired Metcalf and Lofton to start the inning. On a 1-2 pitch to Kinsler, the ball got away and Marmol actually threw behind the batter. Marmol did not get the call on the 2-2 pitch but stuck him out swinging to end the inning. Marmol threw 43 pitches in 3 innings, 28 for strikes.
Bobby Howry continued his improved work and retired the three batters he faced. Ryan Dempster did the same, but his were all strikeouts for the save.
While a win goes to the entire team, the bullpen should get more than their fair share of the credit.
Alfonso Soriano led off the game with a single, stole 2nd but was thrown out trying to steal 3rd….the play was not close. Robinson Tejada ended up facing the minimum in the 1st inning after Laird threw out Soriano and Derrek Lee struck out. Tejada retired the Cubs on 10 pitches in the 2nd but a 2-out single in the 3rd by Mike Fontenot kick started the offense. Soriano reached on a swinging bunt and an error by Laird. With runners on 1st and 2nd, Felix Pie hit a triple to right center that scored Fontenot and Soriano….Lee flied out to end the inning.
Cliff Floyd led off the 4th with what appeared to be a single to right center but Lofton kicked it and Floyd ended up with a double. Michael Barrett hit a hard single to right, Floyd was held at 3rd with no outs….it was the right call. Mark DeRosa followed with a sacrifice fly to right that scored Floyd from 3rd. Jacque Jones singled to center and with 2 outs, Fontenot walked to load the bases. Tejada could not find the strike zone and walked Soriano to force in a run but retired Pie on a soft one-hopper to short.
The Cubs loaded the bases in the 5th but came up empty. Mike Fontenot led off the 6th with a single to center. Joaquin Benoit struck out Soriano and Pie but Derrek Lee barely missed a home run and doubled off the left field wall. Fontenot scored from 1st but a good relay from Michael Young made for a close play at the plate, Fontenot slid around Laird and scored the would be winning run.
These are games the Cubs must win. On a night when Piniella did not receive a good outing from his starter, it was great to see the bullpen be as effective as they were.
Jason Marquis is scheduled to take the mound on Wednesday against Kameron Loe….will Sammy hop on Wednesday?