No Let Down

Game Fifty-Six – Cubs 5 Rockies 4
WP – Ryan Dempster (7-2) LP – Glendon Rusch (1-3) Save – Carlos Marmol (3)

wflag.jpgLou Piniella’s crew came from behind once again after the Rockies took a 2-0 lead in the 2nd inning. Ryan Dempster drove in Kosuke Fukudome with the Cubs’ first run in the bottom of the 2nd with a 2-out double to left center. Alfonso Soriano followed with his 10th home run of the month and 12th of the year. Soriano’s 2-run shot gave the Cubs the lead. Geovany Soto doubled in Aramis Ramirez for the Cubs’ fourth run in the 3rd and Alfonso Soriano added his third RBI of the game with a single in the 4th.

Ryan Dempster struggled with his command and left after just 5 innings of work. Dempster allowed 3 runs on 3 hits with 7 strikeouts and 4 walks. Dempster was effective and earned the win….the only stat that matters. Michael Wuertz, Neal Cotts and Bobby Howry did not allow a hit in relief of Dempster in 3 innings of work.

Carlos Marmol picked up his 3rd save of the season with a lot of help from Kosuke Fukudome. Marmol struck out Jonathan Herrera to start the inning and Fukudome robbed Omar Quintanilla of at least a double with a tremendous leaping catch on the warning track in right center. Scott Podsednik followed with his first home run of the season to cut the lead to 5-4. Willy Taveras looked at strike three to end the game.

The Cubs 6th win in a row tied a season-high mark that was set between April 18th and April 23rd….and the 18 victories in May tied a club record set back in 1987. Hat tip to Len Kasper for the following stat….the last time the Cubs held the best record in baseball on the first day of June was 1908. Saturday was a game that could have gone either way. The Cubs were not as sharp as they have been during the homestand, but every win counts the same. Lou Piniella once again pulled the right strings and played the match-ups late in the game rather well. Alfonso Soriano quietly drove in 3 more runs and finished a tremendous, controversial month with an amazing line…. .345/.386/.672 with 10 home runs, 29 RBI’s and 8 doubles. Soriano was in the foot in the 8th and was replaced in left by Reed Johnson in the 9th. Piniella indicated after the game Soriano was fine.

The Cubs offense had a very good game plan against Glendon Rusch on Saturday afternoon. Ryan Dempster was the only hitter that pulled a ball against Rusch the first time through the lineup. The offense worked with what Rusch gave them.

Kosuke Fukudome led off the 2nd with a single to left. With 2 outs, Ryan Dempster jumped all over the first offering from Rusch and deposited the ball in to left center. The ball hit on the warning track and bounced into the ivy. Fukudome scored all the way from 1st. Rusch quickly got ahead in the count to Alfonso Soriano 0-2, but left a ball out of the plate on the next pitch. Soriano hit the ball a few rows deep into the bleachers in right center.

Aramis Ramirez doubled down the right field line with 1-out in the 4th. Geovany Soto followed with his first of two doubles on the day. Willy Taveras misplayed the ball in right center and Ramirez jogged in to give the Cubs a 2-run lead. Fukudome grounded out to 2nd and DeRosa struck out to end the inning.

Reed Johnson started the 4th with a ground rule double to right center. For the second time in as many days the Cubs hit a ball that stuck in the ivy. Ryan Dempster sacrificed Johnson to 3rd and Alfonso Soriano ripped Rusch’s first pitch into right center….Johnson scored the Cubs’ 5th and final run of the game.

The Cubs offense had chances to add to their lead, especially in the 8th inning….but were unable to continue tacking on those all-important insurance runs. On the afternoon, the Cubs left 10 on base.

Ryan Dempster retired the first 2 batters he faced to start the game, then walked the next 2 before striking out Ian Stewart to end the inning. Dempster appeared determined to not let Todd Helton beat him and his game plan almost backfired. While pitching around Helton, he seemed to not be able to find the strike zone against the rest of the Rockies lineup.

Dempster issued a 1-out walk to Jeff Baker in the 2nd and then served up a 2-run homer to Omar Quintanilla….his first of the year and of his career.

The third run Dempster allowed came off a solo shot by Todd Helton in the 5th.

Michael Wuertz retired the Rockies in order in the 6th. Neal Cotts did the same in the 7th before walking Todd Helton to start the 8th. Cotts struck out Cory Sullivan on 3 pitches for the first out in the inning. Lou Piniella made the slow walk and lifted Cotts for Bobby Howry.

Howry struck out Garrett Atkins and Chris Iannetta flied out to left center to end the inning. All 3 of the much-maligned relievers put together solid outings on a day with the wind blowing out. They threw strikes and that was the key…..3 strikeouts and only 1 walk.

Carlos Marmol, like Dempster, was not sharp but effective. Marmol gave up the Rockies 4th hit of the game and struck out 2 of the 4 batters he faced.

The importance of Kosuke Fukudome remaining the Cubs’ right fielder was once again on full display Saturday at the Friendly Confines. Fukudome made another spectacular game changing catch in the 8th inning that kept the tying run from stepping to the plate.

Six in a row, no matter how the feat is accomplished, is no small task. The Cubs are playing very good ball right now.

Sean Gallagher will shoot for his 3rd career win in the series and homestand finale on Sunday afternoon against Ubaldo Jimenez.