Off the Bench

Game Eighty-Four – Cubs 4 Nationals 2
WP – Will Ohman (1-4) LP – Luis Ayala (0-1) Save – Bobby Howry (4)

wflag.jpg A winning team has to receive contributions from their entire bench during 162-game schedule, every player, no matter how good they may or may not be, will need a game off from time to time. Daryle Ward stepped in for Derrek Lee on Thursday night and responded with a big game for Lou Piniella. Ward scored the first run of the game and was 2-for-4 with 2 RBI’s. Jacque Jones made his first start since June 20th and hit two doubles in four trips to the plate. Mike Fontenot was inserted back in the 2-hole and responded with a 3-for-5 night including the game winning RBI in the 7th inning.

Sean Marshall rebounded from his last start and had a solid outing but left in the 6th inning with the game tied and received a no decision. Will Ohman picked up the win in relief of Marshall after throwing just 4 pitches. The Cubs defense turned two double plays and Aramis Ramirez made the highlight reel with a very good play to rob Nook Logan of a bunt single in 3rd inning. The Cubs won their fourth consecutive series, finished the year with a 6-1 record against the Nationals and have won 11 of their last 13.

Lou Piniella’s crew won 3 out of 4 without their A-game against the Nationals. The Cubs were not sharp from the second game of the series on, but they took care of business and picked up the wins and that is all that matters….a win is a win and no one will remember how good or bad they played during this series in a couple of weeks, but if they would have lost the series….

The Cubs offense ended an 18-inning scoreless drought in the 4th inning. Daryle Ward singled to right with 1-out and advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch from Jason Bergmann. Aramis Ramirez blooped a single down the right field line that scored Ward….it was the first run for the Cubs since the 3rd inning on Tuesday. Cliff Floyd struck out but Jacque Jones doubled down the right field line. Ramirez could not score from 1st on the double and both runners were stranded when Koyie Hill flied out to center (Hill was 0-2 with runners in scoring position on Thursday).

After going quietly in the 5th, Mike Fontenot led off the 6th with a single to right. Daryle Ward worked the count to 3-2 and doubled to left center to score Fontenot. Ramirez popped out and Manny Acta made the slow walk and lifted Jason Bergmann for Billy Traber. With the lefty on the mound, Piniella countered with Mark DeRosa (he was 0-for-2 on the night, his hitting streak ended at 10 games) off his bench for Cliff Floyd. DeRosa reached on an error by Dmitri Young. For the second time in the series DeRosa hit a ball off of Traber’s body but he recovered and threw a strike to Young at 1st, he bobbled the ball and that allowed DeRosa to reach. Jones grounded into a fielder’s choice, 5-4, and Koyie Hill grounded out to short to end the inning.

The Nationals tied the game in the bottom of the 6th and with 1-out in the 7th, Angel Pagan singled to left center. Alfonso Soriano blooped a single to center, Pagan went to 3rd and the Cubs had runners on the corners with 1-out. Mike Fontenot singled to left center, Pagan scored and Soriano moved to 3rd. Daryle Ward hit a sacrifice fly to left center that should have been at least a double, he was robbed on a good running catch by Nook Logan, to close the scoring for the Cubs.

Sean Marshall did his job and put his team in position to win the game. He gave up 2 runs on 5 hits in 5 1/3 innings but walked 4 and struck out only 2 (both strikeouts were of the pitcher, Jason Bergmann). Marshall had trouble finishing innings. After a 1-2-3 1st inning, he gave up a 2-out double to Felipe Lopez. Marshall walked Brian Schneider but retired Robert Fick on a groundout to 2nd.

In the 3rd, Aramis Ramirez made a sensational play and robbed Nook Logan of a bunt single, which turned out to have a huge impact on the inning. Ronnie Belliard followed with a ground rule double down the right field line….Cliff Floyd made a good attempt but came up short. Marshall appeared to pitch around Ryan Zimmerman and retired Young to end the inning.

Marshall issued a 1-out walk to Lopez in the 4th but erased him on a 1-6-3 double play off the bat of Brian Schneider. Again with 2 outs in the 5th, Sean Marshall issued a walk. With Ronnie Belliard at the plate, Logan stole 2nd but Belliard popped out to end the inning. The Nationals tied the game in the 6th.

Ryan Zimmerman reached on an infield single….Ramirez and Izturis collided, Ramirez hit the turf and Zimmerman was safe at 1st. Lou Piniella appeared to be asking Ramirez to leave the game, but he did not and remained at 3rd. Dmitri Young hit a line drive over Mark DeRosa’s head in right, DeRosa misplayed the ball and Young ended up at 3rd with his first triple of the year. Austin Kearns followed with a sacrifice fly to right center to tie the game.

Felipe Lopez singled to left past Izturis and Piniella made the slow walk to the mound. Marshall gave up 2 runs on 3 hits in the 6th. Piniella brought in Will Ohman to face Schneider and on his 4th pitch, Schneider grounded into a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Michael Wuertz pitched a 1-2-3 7th inning with help from Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez made another good play to rob Robert Fick of a bunt single to lead off the inning. Carlos Marmol pitched the 8th and after striking out Ronnie Belliard, made the game very interesting. Ryan Zimmerman singled to right and Young followed with a single to center. Marmol struck out Kearns but walked Lopez to load the bases….Brian Schneider lined out to Ward to end the inning.

Alfonso Soriano made a good play in left to start the 9th and Bobby Howry struck out Nook Logan to end the game.

The Cubs won a series they had to win.

Jason Marquis is scheduled to take the hill on Friday night in the opener of a 3-game series against the red hot Pirates. The Bucs just took three of four from the Brewers and will send lefty Paul Maholm to the mound.

Quote of the Day

"A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course of victory." - Arthur Golden
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