Marshall! Marshall! Marshall!

Game One Hundred Twenty-Seven – Cubs 6 Diamondbacks 2
WP – Sean Marshall (7-6) LP – Micah Owings (6-7) Save – Ryan Dempster (21)

wflag.jpg Lou Piniella received his third quality start in the last four games, this time from Sean Marshall. Marshall threw without a doubt his best game of the season with help from Ryan Theriot. The Diamondbacks hit the ball hard several times on the night but only 2 were put in play in 6 innings against Marshall. He struck out 5 and gave up just one free pass. The only run he allowed was a solo home run by Micah Owings in the 3rd inning, the pitchers’ third in 2 games. Chris Snyder doubled to lead off the 5th inning and after a wild pitch put the tying run at 3rd, Justin Upton hit a ball in the hole at short, Theriot made a diving stop and threw out Snyder at the plate. Theriot’s heads up play changed the momentum of the game.

The Cubs’ offense woke up for the first time on the road trip but the game was a lot closer than the final score indicates. After taking a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning, the Cubs tacked on another in the 3rd and scored 3 more in the 9th. The Cubs pounded out 14 hits but left 7 on base. Jacque Jones had another huge night at the plate, even the out he made was a productive one. Jones finished 4-for-5 with a run scored and a RBI. Mark DeRosa and Jason Kendall were a combined 5-for-8 with 2 runs scored and a RBI. Craig Monroe made his Cub debut and reached on an infield single in his only at bat.

The Cubs have won 6 of their last 8 and picked up a game in the Central Division standings.

The home plate umpire, Eric Cooper, played a big role in Friday night’s game. He had a very inconsistent strike zone the entire game with several calls going the Cubs way. Bob Melvin was ejected in the 7th inning for arguing balls and strikes while several of his players and other coaches voiced their displeasure all night.

While the offense did their job, Sean Marshall was just short of spectacular. He worked quickly and got into a rhythm early in the game. Marshall retired the first 8 batters he faced and was very efficient on the mound. He sat the D’Backs down in the 1st inning on just 6 pitches and did the same in the 2nd inning on 10 pitches….not a bad line: 6 outs on 16 pitches. The first hit Marshall allowed was the home run by Owings with 2 outs in the 3rd inning. He then walked Chris Young but picked him off of 1st base (the put out went 1-3-6) to erase his mistake.

Marshall retired the D’Backs in order again in the 4th and his pitch total was just 47 after the last out of the inning was recorded….11.75 per inning. Chris Snider led off the 5th with a double to left….the 2nd and last hit Marshall allowed. With Mark Reynolds at the plate, Marshall uncorked a wild pitch. Snider moved to 3rd but Marshall battled back from a 2-0 hole and struck out Reynolds swinging. Justin Upton followed with a grounder to the hole at short but Ryan Theriot made a diving stop and threw a strike to Jason Kendall. Kendall blocked the plate perfectly and kept Snyder from tying the game. Marshall retired Stephen Drew on a fly out to right to end the inning.

Marshall did a great job of pitching out of his mistakes in the 5th inning.

Marshall struck out Owings and Young for his final two strikeouts of the night in the 6th inning.

Carlos Marmol pitched a scoreless 7th but did have a little command trouble….the same for Bobby Howry. Howry pitched the 8th and had trouble with his command, he threw 23 pitches and 14 were strikes. Howry did not give up a hit, walked 1, struck out 2 and made the game very interesting. Michael Wuertz started the 9th with a 6-1 lead and he was just horrible. Wuertz gave up a run on a hit and 2 walks in 2/3 inning. Piniella brought in Ryan Dempster with runners on 1st and 2nd and he threw 4 pitches to Upton to end the game.

The Cubs showed a lot of patience in the 1st inning and made Owings work, he threw 36 pitches in the opening frame. Ryan Theriot worked a walk on the 8th pitch of the at bat. Jacque Jones advanced him to 2nd on a ground out to 1st. Derrek Lee followed with a single to right on a 3-2 pitch, Theriot scored. Aramis Ramirez struck out but Cliff Floyd reached on an infield single to 3rd. The D’Backs had the shift on for Floyd but Owings missed his spot and Floyd took advantage of a fastball on the outside part of the plate. Mark DeRosa followed with a single to right center, Lee scored. Jason Kendall ended the inning on a ground out to 3rd.

After making Owings work in the 1st inning, Felix Pie grounded out on the first pitch he saw and Owings retired the Cubs in order on just 7 pitches. Jones led off the 3rd with a single but Lee fouled out and Ramirez hit into a 6-4-3 double play….Owings threw only 12 pitches and was getting into a rhythm. He retired the next 6 batters he faced in the 4th and 5th innings.

Jacque Jones led off the 6th with a double to center. Lee flied out to center but Jones tagged and advanced to 3rd….another productive out. Ramirez followed with a sacrifice fly to left….the Cubs manufactured a very important tack-on run.

Mark DeRosa led off the 7th with a double to left center. Kendall singled to right and Bob Melvin went to his pen for former Cub, Juan Cruz. While Melvin was on the mound, he and Eric Cooper got into a little argument that resulted in Melvin being ejected from the game. Felix Pie walked to load the bases. With no outs, Daryle Ward hit a tapper back to the mound, Cruz started the 1-2-3 double play and then struck out Theriot to end the inning. Bases loaded, no outs and no runs.

Mark DeRosa led off the 9th with a single to center on the first pitch he saw from Dustin Nippert. Piniella called for a hit and run and Jason Kendall singled through the vacated hole at short. Kendall showed tremendous bat control and hit the ball just before it bounced….it was a great at bat by Kendall. With Pie at the plate and DeRosa on 3rd, Nippert uncorked a wild pitch, DeRosa scored and Pie walked. Craig Monroe followed with a grounder to the hole at short, Drew made a good play but could not force Pie at 2nd. Theriot followed with a single to left, Kendall scored and Jones reached on an infield single. Orlando Hudson made a nice diving play but could not hold onto the ball as he tried to tag out Theriot, Pie scored. Lee grounded into a 3-2-3 double play and Ramirez grounded out to 2nd to end the inning.

The Cubs missed two opportunities to blow the game wide open….but all is well that ends well, right?

Friday’s win was a good one against a very good team that is over .500.

Ted Lilly is scheduled to pitch game 2 on Saturday night against Doug Davis.

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne