Two Out of Three

Game One Hundred Thirty-Two – Cubs 5 Brewers 4
WP – Carlos Marmol (4-1) LP – Chris Capuano (5-12) Save – Ryan Dempster (23)

wflag.jpg Lou Piniella’s crew came from behind and beat the Brewers for the 9th time this season in 15 games. Thursday night was the last meeting of the year between the two teams and it came down to two pitches. With the game tied at 3 with 2 outs in the 6th inning, Matt Murton worked the count to 3-2, Murton then took the next offering from Chris Capuano over the wall in left. Alfonso Soriano stepped in and after striking out in his first three at bats, he hit the second pitch from Capuano over the wall in left. Soriano’s 19th home run of the year, his first since July 28th, was the difference in the game. Chris Capuano set a Brewers record with his 12 consecutive loss and his team has not won in the last 18 games he has pitched in.

Ted Lilly struggled in the 1st inning, gave up 2 runs and left after the 5th inning. Carlos Marmol pitched 2 innings in relief to get the win. Marmol struck out the side in the 6th, worked around an error in the 7th and of the 6 outs Marmol recorded, 5 were strikeouts. Ryan Dempster converted his 11th save in a row, but his outing was anything but easy. Dempster gave up a lead off double to Joe Dillon, hit Rickie Weeks and with 2-outs intentionally walked Prince Fielder to load the bases. Dempster walked Corey Hart to force in a run but Kevin Mench swung at the first pitch and grounded out to Ryan Theriot to end the game.

The Cubs won a very important series against the Brewers and have won 8 of their last 13 while picking up a game in the standings. The top two teams in the central battled to the last out in their last meeting of the year. This rivalry figures to get more intense in the next couple of years. The Brewers have a very young and extremely talented team while the Cubs have pieces in place to remain competitive in the immediate future. The Cubs took advantage of a couple of miscues by the Brewers defense in the series but it was what the Cubs have been lacking that was the difference on Thursday.

The Cubs’ lack of power is more of a concern outside of the clubhouse than it apparently is within. Matt Murton picked a very good time to hit his 5th home run of the season in the 6th. He showed a lot of patience at the plate and made Capuano work with 2 outs. Murton’s home run was the first of the series for the Cubs.

Alfonso Soriano has struggled since his return on Tuesday, his timing is just off. After striking out the first three times he hit on Thursday, he took a low inside pitch from Capuano out to left on the second pitch from the lefty after Murton had gone yard….it was the 4th time this season the Cubs hit back-to-back home runs.

The other three runs came in the 2nd inning. Manny Parra walked Aramis Ramirez to start the inning. Craig Monroe followed with his first hit as a Cub at Wrigley. Monroe was given a double on a ball that was lost in the lights by Corey Hart….the ball should have been caught. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and no outs, Mark DeRosa singled to right to tie the game. Jason Kendall worked a walk, then Jacque Jones came through again. Jones singled to left to plate DeRosa with the go ahead run. With 2 outs and runners on 1st and 3rd, Hart robbed Theriot of extra bases with a great diving catch in right center.

Rickie Weeks had a big series for the Brewers. He started the game with a home run and was hit once again on Thursday….the 4th time in the series. Weeks was hit by a pitch. J.J. Hardy followed with a single. Lilly walked Prince Fielder with 1 out. Corey Hart flied out to center but Kevin Mench doubled to left, Hardy scored. Lilly walked Bill Hall and struck out Damian Miller to end the inning.

Ryan Braun led off the 3rd with an infield single….Aramis Ramirez made a very good play that possibly took away a double, but Braun beat out the throw. Lilly struck out Fielder. Braun advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch by Lilly with Hart at the plate. Hart ended up walking. Kevin Mench stepped in, Ned Yost called for a double-steal. With runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, Mench hit a sacrifice fly to center. Braun tagged and scored the tying run.

Ted Lilly gave up 3 runs on 5 hits with 4 walks and 6 strikeouts in 5 innings….he threw 107 pitches. Not a great outing but he gave his team 5 very important innings.

The Cubs played a good game and picked up a very big win, but if this week is any indication of how the next month will be, to quote Pat Hughes, “Fasten your seatbelts.”

Sean Marshall is scheduled to start the first of three with the Astros on Friday, a day after he turned 25 years old. Marshall will face fellow lefty, Wandy Rodriguez. Lou Piniella’s crew must avoid a “let down” against the Astros this weekend.