Game Seventy-Three – Cubs 2 White Sox 1
WP – Michael Wuertz (1-2) LP – Bobby Jenks (2-3) Save – Bobby Howry (1)
The Cubs’ offense managed just 2 runs on the afternoon, one in the 1st inning and one in the 9th. Alfonso Soriano led off the game for the second straight day with a home run but the winning run came after Cliff Floyd singled with 1-out in the 9th inning. Angel Pagan pinch ran for Floyd and went to 3rd on a single to left center by pinch hitter Daryle Ward. Ryan Theriot and Angel Pagan executed the squeeze play to perfection and Bobby Howry picked up his first save of the year.
After a 26-minute rain delay, Rich Hill gave up a run in the 1st inning but settled down and appeared to get into his familiar rhythm before being lifted with 2 outs in the 6th inning. Hill recorded 5 consecutive strikeouts in the 3rd and 4th innings and 6 total on the afternoon. Alfonso Soriano not only provided the first run of the day, he recorded a big assist in the 2nd inning. Luis Terrero tried to stretch a single into a double and ran the White Sox out of a big inning. Lou Piniella’s bullpen did not allow a hit in relief of Hill and walked 2 in the last 3 1/3 innings of the game. The win guarantees the Cubs bragging rights within the Chicago city limits and inches them closer to the .500 mark. For the second game in a row, the Cubs and White Sox pitching staffs found themselves in the middle of a pitcher’s duel….now whether it is good pitching or struggling offenses is a debate for another day. The Cubs pitching staff struck out 10 on the afternoon and did not give up a hit after the 4th inning. While Cesar Izturis’ error in the bottom of the 8th gave the White Sox an extra out, they could not capitalize on several opportunities and left 9 men on base. The wind knocked down two long balls off the bats of Paul Konerko in the 6th and A.J. Pierzynski in the 8th. And while Cubs’ pitching walked 4 batters with 2 outs, they were able to get out of trouble without surrendering any runs.
Rich Hill looked very shaky early, even the outs he recorded were hit hard. He gave up a lead off single to Scott Podsednik and could not keep him from stealing 2nd with his high leg kick. Andy Gonzalez grounded out to 2nd to move Podsednik to 3rd with 1-out and Jim Thome grounded out to Mike Fontenot to score the White Sox lone run of the day.
In the 2nd inning, Josh Fields singled with 1-out and went to 3rd on a single by Luis Terrero. But Terrero was too aggressive on the bases and tried to stretch his single into a double. The throw from Alfonso Soriano beat him there with plenty of time to spare and instead of runners on 2nd and 3rd (or 1st and 3rd) with 1-out, the White Sox were reduced to a runner on 3rd and 2 outs….Juan Uribe grounded out to 3rd to end the inning.
All three outs Hill recorded in the 3rd inning were strikeouts and got Konerko to look at strike three (a good fastball) after a single to left center by Thome. Hill struck out the first two batters he faced in the 4th and just missed on a 2-2 pitch to Josh Fields. Fields eventually singled but Terrero grounded out to short to end the inning….Fields 2-out single was the last for the White Sox.
Hill retired the White Sox in order for the first time in the 5th and retired Thome and Konerko on fly outs to left to start the 6th. He walked Pierzynski with 2 outs, Hill’s first free pass on the day. Hill could not locate his breaking ball and walked Tadahito Iguchi. Lou Piniella made the slow walk and Rich Hill began firing off expletives from the mound….not directed toward anyone but himself. Piniella brought in Carlos Marmol and he retired Josh Fields on a ground out to 3rd. It was a good call by Piniella, Fields was 2-for-2 on the day against Rich Hill.
Carlos Marmol was effective but not as sharp as in recent outings. He took the mound to start the 7th and retired the first two batters he faced with striking out Juan Uribe swinging after running the count to 3-2. Marmol walked Podsednik and Ozzie Guillen went to his bench for Cub killer, Rob Mackowiak. Piniella countered with Will Ohman and he retired Mackowiak on a fly out to left.
Will Ohman pitched extremely well in the 8th and if not for an error on a routine grounder by Izturis, it would have been a 1-2-3 8th, but after the error and a near miss at a home run by Pierzynski, Piniella brought in Michael Wuertz. Wuertz walked Iguchi to put the go ahead run in scoring position but Fields tapped back to the mound to end the inning. Bobby Howry pitched a perfect 9th for the save.
Alfonso Soriano led off the game with a home run to right center field and Mike Fontenot singled to right but Javier Vazquez struck out Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez before retiring Cliff Floyd on a pop out to 2nd. Vazquez gave up just 5 hits in his 7 innings of work and for the third time this season recorded 8 strikeouts….the second time against the Cubs. Cesar Izturis was 3-for-3 on the day with a leadoff double in the 3rd. But the Cubs offense managed just 8 hits, with two coming in the 9th inning and while Lou Piniella’s offense might not be a well-oiled-machine right now, a win is a win.
The Cubs could not manage a hit after Derrek Lee’s 1-out double in the 6th until the 9th inning. Aramis Ramirez grounded out to start the inning but Cliff Floyd singled to center. Angel Pagan pinch ran for Floyd and Rob Bowen was lifted for Daryle Ward. Ward came through with a single to left center and Pagan never broke stride around 2nd. Koyie Hill pinch ran for Ward (Mark DeRosa and Jacque Jones were the only two position players Piniella did not use and DeRosa was in the original line-up….let the speculation continue about Jacque Jones). Ryan Theriot fouled off the first offering from Bobby Jenks before laying down a perfect bunt….the squeeze was on and Pagan scored the winning run, Theriot was out at 1st and Felix Pie struck out to end the inning.
The Cubs will not receive any “style points” for the win, but it was a very good win to say the least.
Sean Marshall is scheduled to take the mound on Sunday afternoon against Jose Contreras….A sweep would be good way to return to the North Side to face the very dangerous Colorado Rockies on Monday.