Z Big Comeback….Cubs Sweep Dodgers

Game Fifty-Three – Cubs 2 Dodgers 1 – 10 innings
WP – Bobby Howry (1-2) LP – Chan Ho Park (1-1) Save – None

wflag.jpgLou Piniella’s crew completed the 3-game sweep of the Dodgers with a dramatic comeback in the 9th and a walk off single by Alfonso Soriano in the 10th inning. With the Cubs down 1-0 in the bottom of the 9th, Ryan Theriot walked to start the rally. After Derrek Lee flied out, Aramis Ramirez put together an impressive at bat against Dodgers’ closer Takashi Saito. Saito ended up walking Ramirez, only the 7th free pass he has allowed all year. With the tying run in scoring position, Kosuke Fukudome reached on an infield single to load the bases. James Loney made a great play to keep Fukudome’s grounder from leaving the infield but Saito failed to touch the bag. On a 3-2 pitch from Saito, Geovany Soto drove in his 36th run of the season with a sacrifice fly to right. Theriot scored to tie the game.

Bobby Howry gave up a lead off single to Luis Maza in the 10th but struck out two of the next three batters he faced to end the inning.

Mike Fontenot pinch hit for Howry in the bottom of the inning and came through with his first base hit since May 5th, a 1-out double to left center….the only extra base hit of the game for either team. Alfonso Soriano did not swing at the first 4 offerings from Chan Ho Park. Park threw a 2-2 breaking ball on the outside part of the plate that Soriano deposited down the left field line. Fontenot scored the winning run without a play.

Carlos Zambrano pitched a very good game on a night he did not have his best stuff and struggled with his command. The only run Zambrano allowed came on a bases loaded walk to Blake DeWitt in the 4th inning. Zambrano threw a season-high 130 pitches in 8 innings with 4 walks, hit a batter, 6 hits and 2 of his 3 strikeouts came in the 8th inning.

The difference in the 3-game sweep of the Dodgers was the Cubs’ pitching staff. The starters allowed only 3 runs in 22 innings while the bullpen did not allow a single run in 6 innings….the Dodgers starters allowed 4 runs in 19 1/3 innings and Joe Torre’s bullpen surrendered 4 runs in 7 innings.

With the win, the Cubs improved to 11 games over .500 for the second time this season.

Carlos Zambrano and Derek Lowe kept both offenses at bay for the majority of the night. It appeared the one mistake Zambrano made in the 4th was going to hold up. Lowe out pitched Zambrano in the third low scoring game of the series. Both pitchers did their part but in the end, the difference was the Cubs much maligned bullpen.

The only run Zambrano allowed came in the 4th inning after he recorded the first two outs of the inning. Russell Martin reached on a 2-out single to left and James Loney followed with a single to center. Zambrano plunked Matt Kemp in the back to load the bases. Zambrano fell behind Blake DeWitt, 2-0, before walking him and forcing in Martin from 3rd….the Dodgers only run. Zambrano settled down and retired Chin-lung Hu on a grounder to 2nd to end the inning.

The Dodgers loaded the bases again in the 8th with 2 outs after a misplayed ball by Mark DeRosa, a single by Russell Martin and an error by Ryan Theriot. Lou Piniella made the slow walk but left Zambrano in to face Matt Kemp.

Big Z struck out Matt Kemp looking to end the inning….

Sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due. After Jonathan Broxton struck out the side in the 8th it would have been very easy for the Cubs to go quietly in the 9th….but they did not. The entire lineup continued to take pitch after pitch and work the count against one of the better closers in the league. The Cubs patience really paid off….with a big win. And as Ron Santo said following Soriano’s single, “How about that!

The win gave the Cubs their first 3-game winning streak since they swept the Diamondbacks earlier in the month. After winning only 2 out of 7 against the Dodgers a year ago, they a 3-0 this season with 4 big road games at Dodgers Stadium next week.

While the Cubs high scoring offense did not figure in the sweep, they did come through in the late innings and with the big hit when they needed it. Good teams win close games, especially at home.

Jason Marquis is scheduled to pitch the opener of the 4-game series against the Rockies on Thursday. Clint Hurdle will counter with Jeff Francis.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax