Game Forty-Four – Cubs 4 Pirates 3
WP – Jason Marquis (2-3) LP – Phil Dumatrait (1-2) Save – Kerry Wood (10)
Lou Piniella’s crew won their third series in a row and finished the longest homestand of the season with an improbable 8-2 record. The offense managed only 4 hits on the afternoon but once again it was their patience at the plate that proved to be the difference in the game. Four of the Cubs seven walks on the afternoon came around to score. Phil Dumatrait walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the 3rd. Alfonso Soriano drove in the Cubs first run with a sacrifice fly and Ronny Cedeno tied the game with a bloop single to left center.
Reed Johnson drove in the eventual winning run with a sacrifice fly in the 4th after a double steal. Kosuke Fukudome singled in Derrek Lee in the 5th after Dumatrait issued two more walks to start the inning.
Jason Marquis dug himself into an early hole but settled down and turned in a quality start. Freddy Sanchez doubled to start the game and Adam LaRoche hit a 2-out, 2-run homer that gave the Pirates a 2-0 lead. LaRoche drove in the Pirates’ third run with a single to left in the 6th. Marquis was shaky but the result was solid. He allowed 3 runs, 2 earned, on 4 hits with 3 strikeouts and a walk in 6 innings.
Carlos Marmol struck out the heart of the Pirates order in the 8th, including a little redemption against Nate McLouth. Kerry Wood picked up his 10th save with a perfect 9th. Marmol and Wood struck out 5 of the 7 batters they faced to finish off the Pirates and the homestand.
Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Kosuke Fukudome finished the 3-game series 1-for-31 with 4 walks, 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.
Jason Marquis gave his skipper exactly what he needed, 6 solid innings after it appeared early on he might not make it through 5 innings. After giving up the 2-run shot to Adam LaRoche in the 1st inning, Marquis pitched around a lead off walk to Doug Mientkiewicz in the 2nd. Marquis ran the count to 3-2 on Phil Doumatrait before he flied out to Kosuke Fukudome in shallow right to end the inning.
Marquis hit Nate McLouth with 1-out in the 3rd but Jason Bay grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. Marquis retired the Pirates in the 4th and 5th and gave his team a chance to make the comeback. Freddy Sanchez singled to start the 6th and Marquis appeared to get the groundball he needed. Mark DeRosa tagged Sanchez (it was a smart baserunning play by Sanchez, he hit the dirt and disrupted the play) but threw the ball into the Pirates dugout. McLouth advanced to 2nd and scored on a 2-out single by Adam LaRoche.
Bobby Howry replaced Marquis in the 7th. Howry was effective but not sharp. Howry walked Ronny Paulino with 1-out. John Russell started Paulino with Brian Bixler at the plate to stay out of the double play. It was the right call, Bixler grounded out to 2nd and Paulino advanced into scoring position. Jason Michaels then reached on an infield single….it was a high chopper off the plate. Aramis Ramirez tried to make the play but the throw was low and got away from Derrek Lee. However, Lee kept the ball in front of him and Paulino was not able to score the tying run. Freddy Sanchez flied out to right to end the inning.
Carlos Marmol gave up a 1-out walk to Jason Bay….but struck out Nate McLouth to start the inning and both Xavier Nady and Doug Mientkiewicz to end the inning.
Kerry Wood was dominant once again. Faced three batters, two strikeouts on 13 pitches.
The Cubs did not flex their muscle in the series finale….they did not have to. The Cubs won a game they might not have a year ago. They took what the opposition gave them and manufactured enough runs to win the game. And that is the only stat at the end of the day that matters.
Lou Piniella’s crew hits the road for a 6-game trip that starts on Monday with three against the red hot Astros. The Cubs have not played well on the road so far this year and the next 6 games will give Lou Piniella a good indication of how his team stacks up away from Wrigley Field. Ted Lilly is scheduled to face Brian Moehler in the opener on ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball.