A Quality Start and a Hot Bat

Game Forty-Two – Cubs 7 Pirates 4
WP – Sean Gallagher (1-0) LP – Tom Gorzelanny (3-4) Save – Kerry Wood (9)

wflag.jpgSean Gallagher did what a Major League pitcher is supposed to do when given a big lead….he threw strikes and the result was his first big league win. Gallagher tossed 5 scoreless innings, turned in a quality start and allowed just 1 run on 4 hits in 6 innings with 3 walks, 3 strikeouts and a hit batsman. Lou Piniella said after the game he was pleased with Gallagher’s “positive outing“. Gallagher will remain in the rotation, for now, and take the hill in Houston next Wednesday.

The Cubs defense had a big hand in the win on Friday. Mark DeRosa robbed Freddy Sanchez of an extra base hit in the 5th when he made a lunging catch going back on a ball in right field. DeRosa rolled into the wall and held on to end the inning. The infield turned two more double plays highlighted by an unconventional 3-6-3 in the 3rd started by Derrek Lee.

Patience at the plate has been the recipe for success so far this season, but the Cubs offense jumped all over Tom Gorzelanny early on and managed only 2 walks on the afternoon. Alfonso Soriano started the scoring by taking Gorzelanny’s first pitch of the game into the left field bleachers. It was the third time this week Soriano gave his team a 1-0 lead to start a game. Soriano added a 3-run homer that landed in the basket in left center in the 2nd and drove in 4 of the Cubs’ 7 runs.

Geovany Soto gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead in the 1st inning with his 8th home run and 30th RBI of the season. Aramis Ramirez drove in a run on a fielder’s choice in the 1st and Mark DeRosa hit the Cubs’ fourth dinger of the day with 1-out in the 6th. The offense managed only 8 hits but 4 of them left the yard.

For the first time this season, Kerry Wood pitched for the third game in a row. He picked up his 9th save when he retired Freddy Sanchez for the 27th out.

With the win, Lou Piniella’s crew improved to 10 games over .500 for the season….last year the Cubs did not reach that mark until September 23rd.

The Cubs once again put together a complete game. Sean Gallagher threw the ball, Alfonso Soriano and company hit the ball and the entire team caught the ball….especially Mark DeRosa.

Alfonso Soriano is in the middle of one of his trademark streaks. Soriano has recorded 2 or more hits in 7 straight games after his 2 home run performance on Friday afternoon….and has 5 game winning RBI’s in the first 8 games of the homestand. Soriano started the scoring with his 7th home run of the year in the 1st inning. Ryan Theriot followed with a walk. Derrek Lee flied out and with Aramis Ramirez at the plate, Theriot stole 2nd and advanced to 3rd on a throwing error by Ronny Paulino. With the infield back, Ramirez grounded out to 3rd and Theriot scored the Cubs second run of the game.

Geovany Soto stepped in and deposited a 0-1 pitch from Gorzelanny into the left field bleachers.

Mark DeRosa jumped on the first pitch from Gorzelanny to start the 2nd inning with a double to center. Reed Johnson followed with a solid single to left, the ball was hit to hard for DeRosa to score from 2nd. Sean Gallagher sacrificed Johnson into scoring position and Alfonso Soriano did the rest….Soriano got just enough of a 0-1 pitch from Gorzelanny and the ball ended up in the basket in left center.

Gorzelanny settled down and gave his team a chance to make a comeback. Gorzelanny struck out the side in the 4th. Ryan Theriot reached on a leadoff double in the 5th but was stranded at 2nd. Mark DeRosa hit his 4th long ball to give the Cubs a 7-1 lead at the time.

Sean Gallagher retired the first two batters he faced before he hit Jason Bay in the 1st inning. Bay took 2nd on a ball in the dirt (ruled a wild pitch) but Adam LaRoche flied out to the wall in left to end the inning….Alfonso Soriano made a good catch with his back to the ivy.

Gallagher pitched around a leadoff walk to Xavier Nady in the 2nd and a walk to Freddy Sanchez to start the 3rd. Nate McLouth hit a grounder to Derrek Lee near the bag, he stepped on 1st and fired to Ryan Theriot….but Sanchez stopped and tried to make it back to 1st. Theriot saw the play developing, charged the throw from Lee and threw a strike in time to get the sliding Sanchez.

Gallagher recorded his first strikeout in the 4th and retired the Pirates in order for the first and only time. Ronny Paulino started the 5th with a single to left….the second hit allowed by Gallagher but Brian Bixler fouled out and Tom Gorzelanny struck out on a failed bunt attempt. Sanchez was then robbed on the great catch in right by Mark DeRosa to end the inning.

The Pirates only run off Gallagher came in the 6th. Nate McLouth doubled to right center to start the inning. Jason Bay walked but Gallagher struck out LaRoche for the second out. Xavier Nady then singled to right to plate McLouth with the Pirates first run. Doug Mientkiewicz grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning….and Gallagher’s outing.

Bobby Howry had another rough day at the old ballpark. He retired three of the four batters he faced in the 7th. Howry gave up 2 home runs in the 8th….a solo shot to Jason Bay and a 2-run homer to Doug Mientkiewicz, after a 2-out walk to Xavier Nady, Howry’s first free pass in 59 batters.

Kerry Wood retired the side in order on 10 pitches to end the game.

With the win, the Cubs have beaten the Pirates in 10 straight games dating back to last Septemeber….the most consecutive wins for the Cubs over the Pirates since August 12, 1890 through April 23, 1891.

Lou Piniella might have found a new starter he can rely on to help solve the early season woes but most importantly the Cubs continued winning games at the Friendly Confines.

Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to face Zach Duke in the second game of the series, just after high noon on Saturday.

Quote of the Day

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