The Stopper

Game One Hundred Fifty-Three – Cubs 3 Reds 2
WP – Bobby Howry (6-7) LP – Gary Majewski (0-3) Save – None

wflag.jpg Lou Piniella’s crew improved to 5-0 in the last 5 games Ted Lilly has taken the mound. Lilly threw another gem after a Cubs’ loss with a quality start. He allowed 2 runs on 5 hits in 7 innings with 8 strikeouts and only 1 walk. The two runs Lilly allowed were solo home runs by Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Dunn. Lilly was very efficient and most importantly he threw strikes with good command. Lilly retired the Reds in order on 6 pitches in the 6th and struck out the last 2 batters he faced in the 7th with the go ahead run on 3rd. Lilly threw 99 pitches, 73 were for strikes.

Bobby Howry recorded the last 6 outs of the game with help from Alfonso Soriano. Soriano recorded his 16th outfield assist of the year when he threw out Norris Hopper at the plate in the 8th inning to preserve the tie. Howry gave up only 1 hit in 2 innings and retired the Reds in order in the 9th. The typically mild-mannered Howry pumped his fist after he struck out Joey Votto to end the game.

Ryan Theriot scored the winning run after a 1-out single to right in the 8th. Theriot hustled to 2nd on an error by Ken Griffey and advanced to 3rd on a single to right by Derrek Lee. Matt Murton pinch hit for Cliff Floyd and drove in Theriot with a fielder’s choice to left. Alfonso Soriano led off the game with his 28th longball of the year. Soriano set a new Cubs’ record in the process with his 9th lead off home run of the season. Geovany Soto tied the game in the 5th with his 2nd big league round tripper.

The Cubs have won 7 of their last 9 games and improved to 7 games above .500 with their 80th victory of the year. With the win, the Cubs took over sole possession of first place in the Central Division.

Ted Lilly entered Wednesday night’s game with a 9-1 record following a Cubs’ loss and he did everything he could to pick-up another win. Lilly was tremendous. He pitched his way out of early trouble and appeared to get stronger as the game went on. Lilly was unable to pick-up his career high 16th win but did set a new career mark in innings pitched with 197 1/3 and tied his career high in strikeouts with 168. ‘The Bulldog’ came through once again….

The Reds put a couple of runners on against Lilly in the 1st inning. Hopper reached on a tapper in front of the plate that Geovany Soto was unable to make a play on. Jeff Keppinger followed with a single to left….the start was eerily similar to the one that took place on Tuesday. Lilly, however, did not let the runners affect him. Ken Griffey grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. With Hopper on 3rd, Brandon Phillips grounded back to Lilly to end the inning.

Lilly gave up a home run to Edwin Encarnacion with 1-out in the 2nd. Aramis Ramirez robbed Joey Votto of an extra base hit with a diving catch for the second out. David Ross flied out to deep left to end the inning. Norris Hopper doubled with 1 out in the 3rd. With Hopper at 3rd and 2 outs, Lilly struck out Griffey to end the inning.

Adam Dunn hit his 40th homer of the year with 1-out in the 4th….the ball ended up on Sheffield Avenue.

Lilly retired the Reds in order in the 5th for the first time and once again in the 6th….on just 6 pitches.

Lilly walked Adam Dunn to start the 7th. He struck out Encarnacion for the first out. Joey Votto reached on an error by Derrek Lee, Dunn ended up at 3rd. Lilly then struck out David Ross and pitch hitter, Alex Gonzalez (not that one, the other one that played for the Marlins) to end the inning and his outing.

Bobby Howry took the mound in the 8th. Howry worked around an error by Mark DeRosa that allowed Hopper to reach to start the inning. Keppinger sacrificed him to 2nd. Howry struck out Griffey for the second out. Brandon Phillips ripped a single to left. Soriano fielded it on one bounce and threw a strike in the air to Soto at the plate….Hopper was out by a mile and did not slide.

Howry retired the Reds in order in the 9th for the win.

After Soriano’s home run, the Cubs offense struggled against Tom Shearn. They hit into 3 inning ending double plays and managed 2 runs on 6 hit in 6 innings of work. Geovany Soto hit his 2nd home run of the season in the 5th to tie the game.

Ryan Theriot sparked another inning for his team. With 1-out, Theriot singled to right, Griffey bobbled the ball and the always hustling Theriot rounded 1st and took 2nd on the error by Griffey. Derrek Lee followed with a single to right. Mike Quade held Theriot at 3rd but the future Hall of Famer could not make a throw. He dropped to the ground after underhanding the ball back into the infield. Griffey left with a lower ab strain. Pete Mackanin brought in Mike Stanton to face Cliff Floyd. Piniella countered with Matt Murton. Murton hit a sinking liner into left. Adam Dunn appeared to catch the ball, it was ruled he trapped it. Theriot scored the winning run but Derrek Lee was forced at 2nd for the out. Felix Pie pinch ran for Murton, stole 2nd but Aramis Ramirez grounded out to 3rd to end the inning.

The Cubs finished a very difficult 24 game stretch in 23 days with a 14-10 record. They get a well-deserved day off on Thursday before starting their last regular season home series of the year on Friday against the Pirates. Jason Marquis is scheduled to take the mound against Paul Maholm.

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney