Over the Hump?

Game Eighty-One – Cubs 7 Nationals 2
WP – Ted Lilly (7-4) LP – Jason Simontacchi (5-6) Save – None

wflag.jpg For the first time since 2004, the Cubs are over .500 at the midway point of the season. The Cubs scored all of their runs in the first 4 innings and received contributions from the entire lineup. Mark DeRosa had another big night in the field and at the plate. He was 2-for-5 with 3 RBI’s and extended his hitting streak to 8 games. Aramis Ramirez was 3-for-5 with 2 RBI’s and a run scored. After being named the National League Player of the Month for June, Alfonso Soriano recorded 2 hits, a RBI, a run scored and a stolen base in his first game back in Washington.

Ted Lilly had command trouble early but settled down and threw 4 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball. Lilly followed Jason Marquis’ solid outing with one of his own. He gave up a run on 3 hits in 7 innings of work with 5 strikeouts. Billy Petrick threw a perfect inning of relief but Bobby Howry gave up a run in the 9th and loaded the bases before a well-timed double play ended the game. Lou Piniella’s crew has not been over .500 since May 9th, they have won 9 of their last 10.

These are the types of games good teams must win. Derrek Lee made two errors in the same game, very uncharacteristic for arguably the best defensive first baseman in the league. After being very patient early in the game, they did not make the Nationals’ bullpen work after the 4th. While it might not have been a “pretty” win, is there really such a thing as an “ugly” one?

Lou Piniella received production from every player on the field. Six different players scored runs, four different players recorded RBI’s. All but Derrek Lee, Rob Bowen and Ted Lilly hit safely but Lee scored both times he reached base (a walk and he was hit by a pitch), Lilly had a sacrifice bunt that led to a run scoring in the 2nd inning and Bowen hit a sacrifice fly that drove in a run and he also scored on Soriano’s single to left in the 2nd.

Jason Simontacchi had not pitched in 8 days after complaining about fatigue in his shoulder. The Cubs took advantage and put the game away early on. Ryan Theriot walked with 1-out in the 1st. Simontacchi hit Derrek Lee in the back and Aramis Ramirez hit a double past a diving Ryan Zimmerman that rolled to the wall, Theriot and Lee both scored….Ramirez has driven in either the winning run or the eventual winning runs in the last three Cubs victories. Cliff Floyd and DeRosa grounded out to end the inning.

Angel Pagan led of the 2nd with a single to right on his 26th birthday. Rob Bowen followed a grounder to the left of the mound, Simontacchi made a good play and threw out Pagan at 2nd. Ted Lilly sacrificed Bowen to 2nd and he scored on Soriano’s single to left.

In the 3rd Aramis Ramirez singled to left and advanced to 2nd on an infield single by Cliff Floyd (that is not a typo). The Nationals had the shift on for Floyd, he hit the ball into the hole at short and Felipe Lopez fielded the ball but could not throw out Floyd at 1st. Mark DeRosa followed with a quality at bat and eventually lined a single off the glove of a leaping Lopez at short. Pagan singled to right to load the bases and Bowen hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Floyd from 3rd.

Billy Traber took over in the 4th and gave up a lead off single to Soriano. Ryan Theriot flied out and with Lee at the plate, Soriano stole 2nd….Lee eventually walked. Ramirez singled to left, Soriano held at 3rd to load the bases. Floyd looked at strike three but DeRosa came through again and hit a smash up the middle that ricocheted off of Traber’s leg and went into right field….Soriano and Lee scored the Cubs last two runs of the game.

Ted Lilly pitched a very good game but had a lot of deep counts that ran up his pitch count. Lilly threw 115 pitches, 72 were strikes. Lilly worked out of a jam in the 1st inning and when he took the mound in the 2nd, he settled in and gave his bullpen another night off.

Lilly walked the first two batters he faced and a throwing error by Derrek Lee put runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs. Lilly had Nook Logan picked off 1st but Lee threw the ball into left center. After falling behind Ryan Zimmerman (1-0), Lilly settled down and struck out both Zimmerman and Dmitri Young before Austin Kearns swung at Lilly’s first pitch and grounded out to short to end the inning.

Lilly retired 14 in a row after the walk to Ronnie Belliard in the 1st inning. Brain Schneider recorded the first hit of the night off of Lilly with 2 outs in 5th. He doubled off the right field wall, Cliff Floyd made a nice attempt but came up short as he crashed into the wall. D’Angelo Jimenez walked and Logan doubled down the left field line for the only run Lilly allowed….Belliard grounded out to 3rd on the first pitch from Lilly to end the inning.

Lilly gave up a single to Ryan Zimmerman to start the 7th but a 4-6-3 double play off of Young’s bat ended the threat in the 7th….Kearns popped out to Derrek Lee to end the inning and Lilly’s outing.

Billy Petrick retired all 3 batters he faced, struck out Robert Fick who argued about strike three and was ejected from the game.

Bobby Howry pitched the 9th and gave up the second run of the game but after the Nationals cut the Cubs lead to 7-2, Howry walked Felipe Lopez to load the bases but Brian Schneider hit a grounder to Ramirez and he started a 5-4-3 double play to end the game. Derrek Lee committed his second error of the game in the 9th, but Howry has to throw strikes (19 pitches, 9 strikes), especially up by 6.

Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to take the mound on Tuesday night against Tim Redding. Micah Bowie was put on the 15-day DL on Monday and the Nationals announced they will call-up Redding from Triple-A Columbus to start against the Cubs.

Quote of the Day

"Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings." - Salvador Dali
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