A Gift

Game One Hundred Thirty – Cubs 5 Brewers 3
WP – Rich Hill (8-7) LP – Scott Linebrink (4-6, BS 7) Save – Ryan Dempster (22)

wflag.jpg Lou Piniella’s crew handed their skipper an impressive come from behind win on his birthday, but it was a decision by Ned Yost that changed the course of the ballgame. Jeff Suppan was in cruise control until the 7th inning. He held the Cubs under performing offense to 1 run on 6 hits. Cliff Floyd led off the 7th and was hit in the elbow by Suppan. Yost decided that was enough for his starter after throwing only 82 pitches. Scott Linebrink came in and gave up an infield single to Mark DeRosa. Jacque Jones tied the game with a double to right center that rolled all the way to the ivy. Linebrink intentionally walked Daryle Ward after missing on his first two offerings. Alfonso Soriano flied out to right, Jones advanced to 3rd. With 2 outs, Ryan Theriot hit a high chopper up the middle that Linebrink could not handle and Jones scored the go ahead run. Derrek Lee singled to left to add the all-important tack on run. Alfonso Soriano was 0-for-4 in his return but the bottom of the Cubs lineup was 6-for-13 with 4 runs and 3 RBI’s.

Rich Hill finally received a little run support and pitched much better than his line indicates. He struck out 4 in a row to start the game and the first 5 outs he recorded were strikeouts. Hill gave up 3 runs on 7 hits with 9 strikeouts and no walks in 7 innings. Hill helped his own cause with a RBI single in the 5th, the Cubs first run of the night. The Cubs ended their 2-game losing streak, improved to 4 games above .500 while handing the Brewers their 5th loss in a row.

The Cubs tried to set a tone for the 3-game series on Tuesday night and for the first 4 2/3 innings they were setting the wrong tone. Jeff Suppan dominated the top of the Cubs lineup and it was their inability to execute that kept them off the board until the 5th inning. The top of the lineup was very aggressive against Suppan but to his credit, he was hitting his spots and keeping them off balance.

The Brewers built a 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the 5th inning. Jeff Suppan struck out Mark DeRosa and Jacque Jones for the first two outs (Jones was on 3 pitches). Suppan appeared to be settling in. He quickly got ahead of Jason Kendall, 1-2, but on a very unorthodox swing, Kendall pulled an outside pitch down the left field line for a double. With Kendall in scoring position and Michael Wuertz warming in the pen, it looked like Hill’s night was over. But Piniella left him in. Hill responded with a single to left center, Kendall scored….it was Hill’s 5th RBI of the season.

The Cubs went quietly again in the 6th. Suppan read the Diamondbacks and Giants’ scouting report and was keeping everything away, away and away. The entire lineup kept trying to pull the outside pitch, with the same result…..out after out after inning ending double play.

Jeff Suppan hit Cliff Floyd on the elbow on a 1-2 pitch. Ned Yost did not hesitate and pulled Suppan for Scott Linebrink. With DeRosa ahead in the count, 2-1, Piniella called for the hit and run. DeRosa hit a ball in the hole at short, J.J. Hardy fielded it but had no play. Jacque Jones then hit a ringing double to right center that rolled all the way to the ivy. Floyd scored easily and DeRosa scored all the way from 1st….without a slide. Daryle Ward pinch hit for Rich Hill. Linebrink fell behind 2-0 before issuing the intentional walk….ahead of Alfonso Soriano. Soriano swung at the first pitch (Soriano made 2 outs on 2 pitches) and flied out to right, Jones tagged…..it was a productive out, to say the least. Ryan Theriot stepped in and hit a high chopper up the middle. Linebrink got a glove on it but could not make the play. Jones scored the go ahead run…..on the only error of the game. Derrek Lee followed with a single to left that scored Felix Pie (Pie was inserted for Ward after he reached 2nd base) with a very important tack on run.

Jeff Suppan’s winless streak reached 12 games.

Rich Hill was very impressive. He showed a lot of poise and did not allow the “little things” to get to him. Hill struck out the side in the 1st inning and Ryan Braun to start the 2nd. Kevin Mench singled for the first hit of the game but Hill struck out Bill Hall for the 2nd out….the first 5 outs were strikeouts. Johnny Estrada popped out to short to end the inning.

J.J. Hardy had a big night at the plate, he was 3-for-4 with 2 runs scored. Hardy reached on an infield single in the 3rd inning. Suppan sacrificed him to 2nd. Rickie Weeks followed with a single to left. With runners on 1st and 3rd, Corey Hart flied out to Cliff Floyd in foul ground and Hardy tagged from 3rd for the first run of the night. Prince Fielder grounded out to Theriot in the shift to end the inning.

Hardy started the Brewers scoring in the 5th with a 1-out double to right center. Jeff Suppan grounded out to short, Hardy advanced on the play. Hill then hit Weeks to put runners on 1st and 3rd with 2 outs. With Hart at the plate, Weeks stole 2nd. Hart then blooped a single into center to score both runs.

Rich Hill retired 7 of the next 8 batters he faced to end his night, with 3 strikeouts.

Bobby Howry took the mound in the 8th. He struck out Hart to start the inning. Fielder blooped a single to left center in front of Soriano. Howry then struck out Ryan Braun on a 94 MPH fastball for the second out but he hit Kevin Mench to put the tying runs on base. Yost pinch-hit Gabe Gross for Bill Hall. Howry battled Gross after falling behind 2-0. Gross worked the count to 3-2 and fouled off 6 straight pitches….Howry finally retired him on the 12th pitch of the at bat, Gross popped out to DeRosa to end the inning.

Ryan Dempster pitched a perfect 9th for the save.

Was Tuesday a tone setter for the series? It was only one win but at the end of August, every win is very big.

On a side note….with the win on Tuesday, the Cubs surpassed their win total from last season.

Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to take the hill on Wednesday night against Ben Sheets. Sheets is expected to be activated from the DL to pitch the all-important second game of the series.

Quote of the Day

"You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old." - George Burns
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