Game Ninety-Four – Cubs 9 Giants 8
WP – Ted Lilly (10-4) LP – Matt Morris (7-6) Save – Bobby Howry (7)
It is not too often an opposing team’s slugger hits two home runs, drives in six runs and his team still loses but that was the case on Thursday afternoon in front of a record setting crowd. Barry Bonds hit a solo home run, #752 of his career, in the 2nd inning, added a 2-out, 2-run single in the 3rd and a 3-run home run in the 7th, #753 of his career. Bonds is just two away from tying Henry Aaron’s All-Time mark of 755.
Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano and Jacque Jones had big days at the plate for Lou Piniella as the Cubs pounded out 16 hits on the Giants’ pitching staff. The Cubs continued to add on throughout the game and was very aggressive on the base paths. Ted Lilly stole his first career base in the 5th inning and extended his hitting streak to 3 games. The Giants defense was the big difference in the game. They committed 3 errors in the 1st inning, 2 on one play alone. Both Daryle Ward and Cliff Floyd left the game with injuries; Piniella emptied his shortened bench and once again received solid contributions from his entire roster. The Cubs have won 18 of their last 23, improved to 11-3 in 1-run games since the end of May and for the first time since June of 2005, are 6 games over .500. The win on Thursday was the Cubs 50th of the year, last season the Cubs did not win their 50th game until August 14th and continue to win games they could not in the past. After a big 4-run 1st inning, Piniella’s crew did not slow down and continued to tack on runs, a trait of a good team….every run and every inning counts and Piniella appears to be have his entire roster buying what he is selling. The Cubs improved to 10-0 in July against right-handed starters and are 15-1 since June 23.
Daryle Ward left the game in the 2nd inning after diving for a popup in the infield. Ward’s injury was diagnosed as a strained right calf. Ward had an MRI after the game and the results are expected to be announced on Friday but he could be heading to the DL accordinding to reports after the game. Cliff Floyd left the game in the top of the 4th with a sore neck and dizziness after colliding with Matt Morris in the bottom of the 3rd. Floyd is listed as day-to-day.
Ted Lilly tied a career high with his 6th win in a row. Lilly was not as sharp on Thursday as he has been during his winning streak. After a 21-pitch 1st inning, it quickly became a question as to how long he would last. Lilly retired the Giants in order in the 1st but it was an 11 pitch at bat by Rich Aurilia than ran up his pitch count.
Barry Bonds was 0-for-his-last-21 leading up to his at bat in the top of the 2nd inning. He took Lilly’s first pitch out on to Sheffield Avenue for his 18th home run of the year….it was the first home run of the season hit on to Sheffield. Lilly retired Molina and got Pedro Feliz to hit what appeared to be a routine pop up on the infield. With the wind swirling, Lilly, Ramirez and Ward came together around the mound. Ward appeared to call off Lilly but ended up having to dive to try to catch the ball. He fell awkwardly and ended up leaving the game. Kevin Frandsen hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Lilly retired the first two batters in the 3rd but gave up back-to-back singles to Randy Winn and Rich Aurilia. Ray Durham stepped in, Lilly uncorked a wild pitch to advance the runners and Durham later walked to load the bases. Bonds stepped in and blooped a single to left center to cut the Cubs’ lead to 4-3. Lilly retired the Giants in order in the 4th and allowed just a single to center by Winn in the 5th. Lilly left after the 5th. He threw 102 pitches, 72 for strikes and allowed 3 runs on 6 hits with a walk and a strikeout.
Billy Petrick started the 6th with a walk to Barry Bonds. Bengie Molina made the rookie pay for the free pass by hitting a 2-run homer to left. Feliz was retired on a great play by Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Theriot. Feliz hit a ball that went off of Ramirez glove, Theriot picked up the ball and threw out Feliz at 1st. Petrick walked Frandsen but retired Omar Vizquel on a 4-6-3 inning ending double play.
Michael Wuertz started the 7th by walking Mike Sweeney. Randy Winn singled but Wuertz settled down and struck out Ryan Klesko and Ray Durham. Piniella brought in Will Ohman to face Bonds and he hit his 2nd home run of the day into the basket in center….Bonds’ 19th home run of the season broke the All-Time record for home runs in a season hit by 43-year old, the previous mark was 18 by Carlton Fisk set back in 1990.
Carlos Marmol got the last out in the 7th and retired the Giants in order in the 8th. Bobby Howry was impressive once again with a perfect 9th inning to earn the save.
The Cubs scored early and often on Thursday and it was a good thing with the amount of damage Bonds did single handedly. The Giants were credited with 3 errors but committed more than that. Alfonso Soriano doubled off of the glove of Pedro Feliz in the 1st inning. Ryan Theriot laid down a perfect bunt, Matt Morris threw the ball away….Soriano scored. Daryle Ward doubled to left to put runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs. Aramis Ramirez singled to right. Frandsen missed the cut off man, Theriot scored and when the ball got away from Molina, Ramirez tried to advance to 2nd. Molina threw the ball into center, Ward scored and Ramirez ended up at 3rd, two errors were given on the play. Jacque Jones came up with his 3rd RBI in the last 2 games with a 2-out single to center to plate Ramirez. Jason Kendall was hit by a pitch and Lilly grounded out to end the inning.
Ramirez led off the 3rd with a single to right. Cliff Floyd hit a grounder to Aurilia at 1st. The Giants tried to turn a double play with Morris covering the bag but Morris appeared to step on the base, he and Floyd collided. Floyd hit the ground and laid there for a moment. Floyd was checked out and stayed in the game. Mike Fontenot singled to right and Floyd advanced to 2nd. With 2 outs, Morris and Molina appeared to get crossed up and the ball actually hit Molina on his mask. The ball bounced away, Molina could not locate it. Floyd hustled around 3rd and scored as Morris retrieved the ball and tried to make a play.
The Cubs added on in the 4th. Soriano singled to left, advanced to 2nd on Theriot’s swinging bunt and scored on a double to left by Ramirez. Angel Pagan followed with a double to left to plate the 7th run of the game.
Jacque Jones singled to lead off the 5th but was erased on a lineout off the bat of Jason Kendall back to the mound, it was a good play by Matt Morris. Ted Lilly singled to center with 2 outs and stole his first career base….he ran on the first pitch from Morris. Soriano doubled to right to score Lilly. The insurance run and eventual winning run came after 2 outs in the 6th. Angel Pagan walked, stole 2nd and scored on a single to left center.
Jacque Jones had a 4-hit day and has started 7 of the last 10 games….Jones had his best day of the year without a doubt. Jake Fox made his Major League debut on Thursday. Fox was 0-1 and grounded into an inning ending double play in the 8th inning.
40,198 witnessed history on Thursday and in the process the Cubs set a new attendance record for a 4-game series with 161,374 fans going through the gates at Wrigley.
To quote John Lennon, “Strange days indeed, strange days indeed.”
The Arizona Diamondbacks open a 3-game series on Friday afternoon to complete the 10-game homestand. Jason Marquis is scheduled to face Brandon Webb.