The Crafty Offense

Game Ninety-Nine – Cubs 7 Cardinals 1
WP – Ted Lilly (11-4) LP – Adam Wainwright (9-8) Save – None

wflag.jpg Ted Lilly gave Lou Piniella another quality start and he set a new career high with his 7th win in a row. Lilly threw another gem but his throwing error in the 4th led to the only run on the night for the Cardinals. Lilly gave up just 6 hits, struck out 2 and walked 3 on 89 pitches in 7 innings. Lilly also extended his hitting streak to 4 games with a broken bat RBI single in the 8th inning, his 4th of the year. The Cubs defense turned 4 double plays and Jacque Jones made a sensational running catch in the 1st inning to rob Albert Pujols of an extra base hit.

Adam Wainwright held the Cubs’ offense in check through the first 3 innings. He struck out 6 of the first 10 batters he faced and allowed just 1 hit until a 2-out single by Cliff Floyd in the 4th inning. The Cubs scored 5 of their 7 runs with 2 outs, including the first 2 runs of the game with RBI singles by Mike Fontenot and Jacque Jones. Alfonso Soriano’s 1-out triple in the 5th sparked the 4-run inning. Soriano broke out of his slump and was 3-for-5 on the night, just a home run short of the cycle. Aramis Ramirez hit his 19th and 20th doubles of the season and both Cliff Floyd and Jacque Jones added doubles of their own. With the win Lou Piniella’s crew is back to 7 games over .500.

The Cubs offense put on impressive display and broke out of their recent slump of “just hitting singles“. They scored 7 runs on 14 hits with 5 doubles and a triple but without the benefit of a home run. The team that was expected to hit home runs in bunches continues to win games with timely hitting, solid defense and very good starting pitching.

Ted Lilly continues to be one of the surprises for Lou Piniella’s crew. Lilly retired the Cardinals in order in the 1st inning thanks in large part to a great catch by Jacque Jones. Albert Pujols hit a deep fly just to the left of straight away center and Jones made an over the shoulder running catch as he ran into the wall….very similar to catches made by the other team’s centerfielder over the years.

Lilly gave up his first hit of the game to Juan Encarnacion leading of the 2nd inning. (Encarnacion was 4-for-4 on the night) Scott Rolen swung at the first pitch and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play….the first of the night for the Cubs. Chris Duncan singled but Lilly struck out Yadier Molina to end the inning. Brendan Ryan led off the 3rd with a single to left but Wainwright could not advance him to 2nd and David Eckstein grounded into a 4-3 double play.

Lilly was given a 2-run lead by the time he took the mound in the 4th inning. He gave up a leadoff walk to So Taguchi and appeared to have him picked off 1st with Encarnacion at the plate. But Lilly’s throw to Derrek Lee was low and Taguchi reached 3rd with only 1-out. Encarnacion singled to left to score Taguchi but Rolen flied out and Duncan grounded out to end the inning with the tying run on base.

Lilly went into cruise control after the 4th and showed the command that has made him very successful this season. He worked around a 1-out walk to Ryan in the 5th and a bloop single to Encarnacion in the 6th. In the 7th, Ryan reached on a bunt single with 2 outs and Lilly walked Ryan Ludwick but retired Eckstein to end the inning. Lilly was very efficient with the 89 pitches he threw and 56 of them went for strikes.

Michael Wuertz gave up 2 hits in the 8th but a grounder to 3rd off the bat of Pujols started a 5-4-3 double play and kept the Cardinals from scoring any further runs. Scott Eyre pitched a scoreless 9th, his 5th consecutive outing in which he did not allow a run. And the game ended with a 6-4-3 double play….the 4th of the night.

After a nearly perfect 3 innings of work, Adam Wainwright walked Derrek Lee on 4 pitches with 1-out in the 4th. Aramis Ramirez lined out to left but Cliff Floyd singled to right with the Cubs second hit off of Wainwright. Mike Fontenot followed with a single to right center that plated Lee with the first run of the game. With runners on 1st and 3rd, Jacque Jones singled to left and Koyie Hill grounded out to end the inning….more clutch hitting from Jacque Jones. The Cubs hit Wainwright extremely hard in the 4th and it carried over into the 5th.

Ted Lilly struck out to start the inning but Alfonso Soriano tripled to right, his 5th of the season. Ryan Theriot singled to left, Soriano scored. Derrek Lee grounded into a force play and Aramis Ramirez doubled to left to put runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. Cliff Floyd hit a double over Taguchi’s head to straight away center and Fontenot followed with a single to center to score Floyd.

Aramis Ramirez doubled to left center with 1-out in the 7th (his 20th of the year) but was stranded at 3rd when Fontenot grounded out to the mound to end the inning. Jacque Jones led off the 8th with a double to left center. He advanced to 3rd on a ground out to 1st by Koyie Hill (a productive out). With the infield in, Lilly broke his bat and blooped a single into center to that scored Jones with the last run of the game.

The Cubs offense broke out of their slump and Ted Lilly became the first Cubs’ lefty to win his 11th of the season before the team played their 100th game since Ken Holtzman in 1969.

Jason Marquis is scheduled to take the mound in the series finale on Thursday against Braden Looper.

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne