Game Sixteen – Cubs 3 Pirates 2
WP – Rich Hill (1-0) LP – Ian Snell (2-1) Save – Kerry Wood (4)
Lou Piniella’s crew won another close game against the Pirates on Friday afternoon at the old ballpark. The Cubs’ offense had plenty of opportunities to put up runs early in the game but could not come through with the big hit. The offense totaled 9 hits on the afternoon, 4 were for extra bases….2 doubles and 2 triples.
The Cubs scored all 3 of their runs in the 4th inning after Kosuke Fukudome led off with his first career triple. Mark DeRosa followed with a single to right center to tie the game. After a double by Geovany Soto put runners on 2nd and 3rd, Reed Johnson reached on an infield single that scored DeRosa with the go ahead run. Eric Patterson drove in the third run of the inning on a fielder’s choice.
Rich Hill pitched just good enough to pick up his first win of the year. He threw almost as many strikes as balls, but surrendered only 1 run on 3 hits with 3 walks and 4 strikeouts. Lou Piniella turned the game over to the pen after Hill qualified for the win. Carlos Marmol struck out 5 of the 9 batters he faced but did give up a solo home run to Nate McLouth in his 2 innings of work. Kerry Wood retired the side on 6 pitches in the 9th for the save. Rich Hill was not spectacular, but he did not need to be. The Cubs needed to see a good outing from their young southpaw and Hill responded with what should be described as a successful start.
The game did not start out the way anyone wanted, especially Lou Piniella….Hill walked Nate McLouth on 4 pitches. Hill settled down and struck out Luis Rivas then picked off McLouth from first with Freddy Sanchez at the plate. Hill ended up facing the minimum in the opening frame.
Jason Bay reached on an infield single to start the 2nd inning and stole second with Xavier Nady at the plate. Nady then singled to left to plate Bay with the Pirates first run of the game. Rich Hill struck out Adam LaRoche and retired Ronny Paulino on a pop out. Jose Bautista then doubled off the wall in left that put runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. Hill struck out Ian Snell to end the inning.
Hill retired 9 of the last 11 batters he faced to complete his afternoon….walks to Adam LaRoche in the 4th and Ian Snell in the 5th.
Jon Lieber and Sean Marshall pitched a scoreless 6th. Carlos Marmol struck out the side in the 7th and in the 8th inning the game got extremely close.
Nate McLouth led off the inning with his third home run of the year….and extended his hitting streak to 16 games. Marmol retired Rivas on a tapper back to the mound and struck out Freddie Sanchez for the second out. Marmol then walked Jason Bay and gave up a 2-out single to Xavier Nady. With the tying run in scoring position, Marmol struck out Adam LaRoche to end the inning….43 pitches later.
Kerry Wood threw 6 pitches in the 9th, all were strikes.
The Cubs won another game they probably would have lost a year ago. The offense did just enough against a very good pitcher. Only 16 games into the season it appears a different guy is stepping up every game….that is a sign of a good team. While the win was very important, the performance by Rich Hill was past due….and hopefully he will continue to progress with every start.
Weather permitting…. Jason Marquis will face Tom Gorzelanny in the second game of the series on Saturday just past noon.