Game Ninety – Cubs 7 Astros 6
WP – Michael Wuertz (2-2) LP – Wandy Rodriguez (6-8) Save – Bobby Howry (5)
For the first time since 1984 the Cubs swept a 3-game series against the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field with a very impressive, come from behind victory. After staking the Astros to a 5-to-nothing lead in the 2nd inning, the Cubs scored 6 runs in the bottom of the inning with 5 runs coming from home runs by Angel Pagan and Derrek Lee. Mike Lamb tied the game with a solo home run in the 3rd but Ryan Theriot’s 2nd home run of the season in the 4th inning proved to be the difference in the game. The Cubs had gone 10 games without a home run before Saturday and have hit 4 in the last two games.
Jason Marquis had another bad start and his outing on Sunday was almost a mirror image of his previous game against the Pirates. Marquis gave up 6 runs in the first three innings and departed an inning later after struggling to record the third out. The Cubs’ bullpen was very effective once again and combined for 5 innings of shutout ball. The Cubs’ defense was spectacular, especially Mark DeRosa, Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Theriot and helped preserve the win. For the first time this season Lou Piniella’s crew is 4 games over .500 and have won 15 of their last 19. Jason Marquis received a no-decision thanks to the Cubs offense and a well-managed game by Lou Piniella. Marquis was ineffective once again and when he hit the strike zone, every ball was up and hit hard. Marquis lasted only 4 innings and for the second start in a row could not complete 5 innings and caused Piniella to empty his pen. Marquis was successful early in the year and has to find a way to get back into the rhythm that he had when he shutout the Pirates and beat the Brewers, the last two wins he recorded.
The bullpen did their job and held the Astros scoreless in the last 5 innings on just 3 hits with 3 walks and 5 strikeouts but the defense should get as much credit as the pen, Sunday’s victory and the sweep of the Astros was truly a team effort….all weekend long.
With the Astros up 5-0 in the 2nd inning, the likelihood of a win seemed very slim. Marquis was not pitching well and the Cubs were facing a lefty that had not allowed a run in 17 innings. After Soriano popped out to short to start the 2nd, Mark DeRosa doubled to left and scored on a single to center by Geovany Soto, his first hit of the year at the big league level. Angel Pagan followed and homered to left on the first pitch from Rodriguez. Jason Marquis then singled to left on a 3-1 pitch and advanced to 2nd on a single by Ryan Theriot. Mike Fontenot stepped in and hit a ball back to Rodriguez but he bobbled the ball and was able to only get the out at 1st….the Cubs were given an extra out, it should have been an inning ending double play. Derrek Lee took advantage of the gift and hit his first home run since June 3rd (126 at bats), a 3-run shot to left that gave the Cubs a 1-run lead. After a Ramirez single, Soriano flied out to right to end the inning. The Cubs scored 6 runs on 7 hits and received a standing ovation when the inning was over.
With the score tied at 6 in the 4th, Ryan Theriot led off the inning with a home run to left center that held up and proved to be the difference in the game. The Cubs had chances to add on to the lead but could not plate the runs and left the game in the hands of the bullpen and the defense.
Jason Marquis was not fooling anyone on Sunday. Five of the first eight that Marquis faced reached base on hits. Hunter Pence doubled to left with 1-out in the 1st inning and just missed hitting a home run. Lance Berkman (0-7 in the series before Sunday) followed with a single to center to score Pence. Carlos Lee struck out and after Berkman stole 2nd, Mark Loretta grounded out to short to end the inning.
Mike Lamb singled to right to lead off the 2nd inning and scored on a double to right center by Luke Scott. Brad Ausmus followed with a single to center to score Scott and he advanced to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt by Rodriguez. Marquis walked Chris Burke and Lance Berkman doubled to right center to score Ausmus and Burke. Carlos Lee lined out to Theriot at short to end the inning….the Astros scored 4 runs on 4 hits and a walk.
Mike Lamb tied the game in the 3rd with a home run to right and Marquis got out of the 3rd without any further damage.
Wandy Rodriguez led off the 4th with a single to right but was erased on a 1-6-3 double play. Marquis then walked Hunter Pence and Lance Berkman. Carlos Lee stepped in and hit a liner down the 3rd base line, Aramis Ramirez laid out and made the diving catch to end the inning and Lee threw his bat down in frustration.
Scott Eyre was given another opportunity by Piniella on Sunday and once again failed to do his job. Eyre retired Loretta and Lamb rather quickly, he threw strikes and got ahead in the count but walked Luke Scott with 2 outs and gave up an infield single to Brad Ausmus. Piniella went to the pen and brought in Carlos Marmol to face Craig Biggio. Marmol struck out Biggio swinging on 4 pitches to end the inning. Lou Piniella and Jim Hendry have to make a decision about Scott Eyre soon….either deal with his ineffectiveness or release him because for whatever reason he can no longer do his job.
Marmol gave up a walk in the 6th but retired Lee on a fly out to deep left to end the inning. He gave up a leadoff single to Mark Loretta to start the 7th and Piniella brought in Will Ohman to face Mike Lamb. Lamb blooped a single over Theriot’s head that put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs. Luke Scott stepped in and hit a ball to the corner in right that DeRosa caught on the run as he reached over his shoulder….it was a great catch. Both runners advanced and for some reason Phil Garner pinch ran for Mark Loretta at 3rd with Eric Bruntlett. Brad Ausmus lined out to Ramirez for the 2nd out. Piniella then brought in Michael Wuertz to face Morgan Ensberg. Wuertz walked Ensberg to load the bases but struck out Chris Burke on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
Wuertz retired the Astros in order in the 8th and Bobby Howry retired the side in order in the 9th for the save and the win.
The Cubs improved their record on the season against southpaws to 9-14.
Rich Hill is scheduled to open the 4-game series against the Giants on Monday night and will face rookie right-hander, Tim Lincecum.