Game Thirty-Six – Cubs 7 Diamondbacks 2
WP – Scott Eyre (1-0) LP – Chad Qualls (0-4, BS 3) Save – None
The top two scoring offenses in the National League played another close, low scoring game until the 7th inning. Max Scherzer held the Cubs offense to an unearned run on 5 hits through the first 6 innings of the game. Ryan Dempster matched him pitch for pitch until the top of the 6th when the Diamondbacks plated a pair of runs on a bases loaded walk by Justin Upton and a fielder’s choice ground out with the bases loaded by Mark Reynolds.
Bob Melvin replaced Scherzer with Chad Qualls in the 7th inning. For the second day in a row Mark DeRosa started the Cubs rally with a base hit. After a sacrifice bunt by Reed Johnson put DeRosa in scoring position, Daryle Ward came through with his first pinch hit of the season (0-for-14). Ward’s opposite field single scored DeRosa with the tying run. Alfonso Soriano doubled in pinch runner Jason Marquis with the eventual winning run….the second game in as many days Soriano drove in the winning run.
Ryan Theriot followed with a single to center, an obviously hindered Soriano scored on a close play at the plate. Derrek Lee was robbed of a single but advanced Theriot into scoring position. Aramis Ramirez drove in Theriot with a single to right center and Kosuke Fukudome hit his first home run since Opening Day to cap the scoring.
Alfonso Soriano scored two big runs with two close plays at the plate and finished the day 4-for-5 with the game winning RBI. The Cubs scored a season high 6 runs in the 7th inning and took over the lead in the National League with 205 runs scored.
Ryan Dempster pitched an excellent game but did not figure into the decision after allowing a pair of run in his last inning of work. Dempster tied a season-high with 7 strikeouts, walked 3 and gave up only the 2 runs on 3 hits. Scott Eyre picked up the win in his first appearance of the year. Bobby Howry was impressive in the 8th and Carlos Marmol recorded the 27th out to secure the win.
After struggling for the past two weeks, Lou Piniella’s crew has won 3 of the last 4 games and their first series since sweeping the Mets back on April 22nd. The Cubs offense had a couple of chances against Max Scherzer but made bad decisions on the base paths that looked like could cost them the win. Aramis Ramirez doubled to left center to start the 2nd inning. He advanced to 3rd on a ground out to short by Kosuke Fukudome. With the infield back, Geovany Soto hit a one-hopper to Augie Ojeda at 2nd base. Ramirez hesitated before taking off, Ojeda threw home to get Ramirez and keep his former team off the board.
Alfonso Soriano blooped a single into right field with 2 outs in the 3rd inning. Ryan Theriot followed with a single to right. Justin Upton bobbled the ball before tossing it into Ojeda. Mike Quade held Soriano at 3rd but after Upton’s bobble and indecision on what to do, Quade sent Soriano. The throw beat Soriano to the plate but Chris Snyder could not hold onto the ball, Soriano touched got his hand in and was safe with the Cubs’ first run….it was one of those plays, and it turned out being a great call because Soriano scored.
Reed Johnson started the 5th by being hit by a pitch for the 7th time this season (Johnson was hit again in the 8th….number 8). Ryan Dempster sacrificed him to 2nd and Soriano blooped another single into right, Johnson could not score and the Cubs had runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out. Scherzer hit Ryan Theriot to load the bases. Derrek Lee followed and swung at the first pitch. Lee flied out to Justin Upton in right….Upton threw a one-hop perfect strike to Chris Snyder and Johnson was out by a mile.
That appeared to be the turning point in the game.
Ryan Dempster cruised through the first two innings. He allowed just a 2-out walk to Chris Snyder but elevated his pitch count. Dempster hit Augie Ojeda with 1-out in the 3rd inning, pitched around the mistake and struck out Chris Young to end the inning.
The Cubs defense played a big role in Dempster retiring the Diamondbacks in order in the 4th inning. Ryan Theriot made a solid play on a ball hit in the hole by Conor Jackson and a spectacular play on a ball hit toward the middle by Justin Upton. Aramis Ramirez stepped in front of Theriot to throw out Mark Reynolds to end the inning.
Dempster struck out the side in the 5th but struggled in the 6th.
Augie Ojeda led off the inning with the Diamondbacks second hit of the game….a solid single to left center. Stephen Drew followed with a single to left. Dempster retired Chris Young on an infield fly for the first out but issued his second walk of the game to Conor Jackson to load the bases.
Dempster received a generous call from home plate umpire Dana DeMuth on a 2-1 pitch to even the count but DeMuth called the next pitch a ball….it all evened itself out. Dempster ended up walking Upton to force in Ojeda to tie the game….it was the D’Backs first run since the 1st inning on Friday, 13 innings. Mark Reynolds grounded out to Theriot at short for the second out but Drew scored the go ahead run on the play. Dempster retired Chris Snyder on a tap back to the mound on the 32nd pitch of the inning.
Scott Eyre retired the first two batters he faced in the 7th before giving up a single to Augie Ojeda. Ojeda was responsible for 2 of the Diamondbacks’ 4 hits and reached base three times. Stephen Drew lined out to left to end the inning. Eyre did his job and the Cubs’ offense put the game away in the bottom of the inning.
The Cubs have played very good ball over the last two games and have a chance for a sweep of the best team in the National League, weather permitting, on Sunday.
Carlos Zambrano will face Randy Johnson in the series finale on Sunday. It’s ‘The Battle of Guys with the Word Big’ in their nickname and an important game for the Cubs’ ace.