Game Fifty – Cubs 5 Pirates 6 – 11 innings
WP – Damaso Marte (4-0) LP – Jon Lieber (2-3) Save – None
The Cubs’ Wild Card season of 1998 was filled with many memorable games and moments….Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeouts, Game 163, Sammy Sosa, the first post-season appearance in 9 years and one very infamous error. On September 23, 1998 Cubs’ left fielder Brant Brown dropped a routine fly ball that was lost in the sun and elicited the now famous response by Ron Santo. The Cubs lost the game to the Brewers 8-7 but the won the wild card a few days later. Even though Alfonso Soriano’s error took place in May, it had a similar feel after he dropped the third out on a routine fly ball to left that cost his team the game.
Carlos Marmol appeared to be on his way to saving his third game of the season and handing Jose Ascanio his first win as a Cub. Marmol was not sharp but was effective. The turning point in the inning actually came when Marmol issued a 1-out walk to Freddy Sanchez. Marmol struck out Luis Rivas on a 3-2 pitch and Nate McLouth hit a routine fly to left on a 2-2 pitch. Soriano got under the ball before evidently losing it in the sun….Soriano dropped to the ground trying to shade his eyes, the ball went in and out of his glove and the tying run scored. For Soriano it was the second misplayed ball in left field on Sunday, both cost his team runs.
Alfonso Soriano did hit his 11th home run in the 4-run 3rd inning. Soriano’s 2-run shot gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead at the time. As was said after the game, Alfonso Soriano ‘giveth and taketh away.’
Lou Piniella’s crew finished another 6-game road trip against division rivals with a 2-4 record but it is May and they remain 8 games above .500. Ted Lilly was not sharp and once again struggled with his command. Of the 4 runs Lilly allowed, 3 came off of solo home runs….two by Luis Rivas (his first two long balls of the season) and the third by Xavier Nady. Lilly surrendered 4 runs on 10 hits in 6 innings with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. Lilly looked more like the pitcher that took the mound in April than he did in his last 5 starts. Lilly could not come up with the shutdown inning his team needed after they gave him a 4-2 lead in the top of the 3rd. Lilly gave up a run and allowed the momentum to shift back to the Pirates.
The Pirates tied the game in the 6th after a leadoff double by Adam LaRoche. Kosuke Fukudome made a good throw to 2nd that beat LaRoche but Ryan Theriot could not hang onto the ball. Jose Bautista followed with a single to center that tied the game. Lilly walked Ronny Paulino and retired Paul Maholm on a 4-6 fielder’s choice. Maholm squared to bunt, pulled the bat back and slapped the ball past Derrek Lee. DeRosa tossed to Theriot to get the first out of the inning. Freddy Sanchez hit an inning ending 5-4-3 double play….Lilly got out of the jam and left with the game tied.
Mark DeRosa led off the 3rd with a double to left. Henry Blanco followed with a single to left that put the Cubs on the board. Ted Lilly struck out for the first out of the inning and then Alfonso Soriano gave the Cubs the lead with his 11th home run of the year. Ryan Theriot followed with a walk and advanced to 3rd on a ground rule double to right by Derrek Lee. Aramis Ramirez grounded out to short, Theriot scored the Cubs’ 4th run of the game on the fielder’s choice. Reed Johnson struck out to end the inning.
With the game tied at 4, Derrek Lee reached on a hustle double with 1-out in the 8th. Aramis Ramirez singled to center to plate Lee with the go ahead run.
The Cubs had chances to sweep the weekend series but were unable to put the ‘Pesky Pirates‘ away. They left them hanging around and gave them ample opportunities to win both games.
The first run of the game came with a little controversy. Luis Rivas was credited with his first home run of the season but it bounced off the top of the wall and fell into the field of play. Alfonso Soriano appeared to take his eye off the ball as the wall got closer. The ball could have been caught and was ruled a home run.
Jon Lieber gave up a leadoff infield single to Chris Gomez in the 11th. Brian Bixler sacrificed him to 2nd, Lieber struck out Luis Rivas and Piniella intentionally walked Nate McLouth to face Jason Bay. For the second time in as many games, Bay delivered a single into left that gave the Pirates the win.
Lou Piniella has to find answer for all of their struggles away from Wrigley Field.
The Cubs open a 3-game series and a 7-game homestand on Monday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ryan Dempster is scheduled to face Chad Billingsley on Memorial Day.