Game Forty-One – Cubs 4 Padres 0
WP – Ryan Dempster (5-1) LP – Greg Maddux (3-4) Save – Kerry Wood (8)
The one-time student out pitched the old professor on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley. To say Ryan Dempster threw a gem would be an understatement. Dempster came within just 2 outs of a complete game shutout, set a new career mark with 12 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings and earned the praise of his manager following the game. Lou Piniella said Dempster has met expectations in his return to the rotation and with all of the struggles of the rotation early on, Piniella described Dempster’s performance thus far this season as a “godsend“.
Dempster allowed his first hit to Brian Giles with 2 outs in the 1st inning. Then retired the next 15 batters he faced before giving up a 2-out walk to Jody Gerut in the 6th. Brian Giles recorded the Padres second hit off Dempster to start the 7th and of the 6 hits Dempster allowed, only one went for extra bases….a leadoff double by Giles in 9th. Dempster threw 116 pitches, 77 for strikes, and lowered his ERA from 2.76 to 2.35.
All of the Cubs runs came against Greg Maddux in the 5th inning. Ronny Cedeno (2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) led off the inning with a single to right. Lou Piniella played a little hit and run with Cedeno and Henry Blanco. Blanco singled to right, Cedeno advanced to 3rd and scored on a single to left by Ryan Dempster….his first RBI of the year and eventual game winner. After a single by Alfonso Soriano loaded the bases, Ryan Theriot hit a sacrifice fly to right that plated Blanco. Derrek Lee broke an 0-for-12 slump with a double to left center that plated both Dempster and Soriano.
Jim Edmonds was 1-for-4 in his Cub debut. Lou Piniella’s crew improved to 21-1 in games they score at least 4 runs and with the win improved to 9 games over .500 for the second time this season.
Edmonds ended up hitting a single into right in his first at bat as a Cub. Greg Maddux then responded with a very classy move. Maddux asked Edmonds if he wanted the ball, Edmonds said “yes” and Maddux tossed it to the Cubs’ dugout. Ronny Cedeno followed with a single and Jody Gerut robbed Henry Blanco of an RBI single with a diving catch running in from center.
Derrek Lee made a great defensive play to start the game and set a good tone for the afternoon. Ryan Dempster retired the Padres in order in the 1st but both Jody Gerut and Tadahito Iguchi hit the ball rather hard. Lee robbed Gerut of a would-be double on a hot shot down the line on the first pitch from Dempster. The Cubs defense was solid once again on the afternoon and did not give the struggling Padres any extra chances.
The Cubs offense missed an opportunity to add to their lead in the 7th after loading the bases with 1 out. Edmonds struck out and Ronny Cedeno flied out to right center to end the inning.
The Cubs pounded out 13 more hits but Maddux induced two double plays that bailed him out of trouble in the first 4 innings….but for only the 4th time in his career, Greg Maddux posted a loss against the team that he broke in with.
As a lifelong fan of the Cubs, Thursday was a confusing day. Rooting for Jim Edmonds and against Greg Maddux, on the same day….sounds like an episode of the Twilight Zone.
The Cubs open a 3-game series against a team that just won two of three against the Cardinals in St. Louis….the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sean Gallagher will make his second career start against Tom Gorzelanny.