Hey Hey Holy Mackerel

Game Sixty-Seven – Cubs 3 Braves 2 – 11 innings
WP – Kerry Wood (3-1) LP – Manny Acosta (3-5) Save – None

wflag.jpgLou Piniella’s crew came from behind once again in dramatic fashion, on throwback day at Wrigley Field. and won their 4th in a row and 11th straight at home. Carlos Zambrano and Tim Hudson locked in a good ole fashion pitcher’s duel reminiscent of games from 1948. Zambrano made just one mistake, a low fastball that Jeff Francoeur golfed out to left in the 2nd inning. Tim Hudson made Francoeur’s 2-run shot hold up until the 7th inning when Jim Edmonds drove in Aramis Ramirez on a sacrifice fly to right.

The Cubs grounded into two double plays, one in the 2nd inning and the other in the 3rd and Tim Hudson took care of the rest until the 7th inning. The Cubs managed 7 hits off of Hudson, all singles. Hudson kept the ball down most of the afternoon and only 3 of the first 16 outs were fly balls.

Scott Eyre and Carlos Marmol bailed the Cubs out of trouble in the top of the 8th inning. Carlos Zambrano walked Mark Teixeira on 4 pitches to start the inning. Lou Piniella replaced Zambrano with Scott Eyre and he promptly gave up a double to Brian McCann. Eyre intentionally walked Jeff Francoeur to load the bases with no outs and the Cubs down by just a single run, 2-1.

Eyre preceded to strikeout both Greg Norton and Gregor Blanco. Carlos Marmol was brought in to face Omar Infante and Marmol struck him out looking to end the inning. Eyre set the Cubs All-Time mark with his 32nd straight appearance without allowing a run.

The Cubs were unable to tie the game in the 7th and 8th innings and appeared to be on their way to a rare loss at home….but that all changed with one swing of the bat. Jim Edmonds stepped in with 1-out in the bottom of the 9th and deposited a 1-0 pitch from Blaine Boyer into the basket in left field to tie the game at 2.

Kerry Wood threw two very impressive innings. Wood struck out 4 and in the process tied Rick Reuschel for third on the Cubs All-Time strikeout list with 1,367. Wood worked around a 2-out double by Kelly Johnson in the 11th and buckled Mark Teixeira’s knees as he looked at strike 3 to end the inning.

Aramis Ramirez walked to start the 11th. A passed ball by Brian McCann led to an intentional walk to Kosuke Fukudome. Geovany Soto loaded the bases with a single to left and Bobby Cox brought in Jeff Ridgeway to face Jim Edmonds. Piniella went to his bench for Reed Johnson and Ridgeway plunked Johnson with his first pitch to end the game. Johnson took one for the team and the Cubs picked up a big win.

The Cubs completed the first 3-game sweep of the Braves at Wrigley since 2000 and improved to 19 games over .500, a new season high….and the first time the Cubs have been 19 games over .500 since 1984. With the win the Cubs home mark improved to 29-8 after losing their first two games of the year at Wrigley.

Thursday afternoon was truly a pitcher’s duel on a hitter’s day at the Friendly Confines. Neither Carlos Zambrano nor Tim Hudson allowed the opposition to lift much in the air and unfortunately for Zambrano, Hudson made one less mistake. The Cubs bullpen was once again the difference. Scott Eyre, Carlos Marmol, Neal Cotts and Kerry Wood held the Braves scoreless over the last 4 innings, gave up only 3 hits, 3 walks (2 intentional) and struck out 9. The Braves were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position with 7 strikeouts.

The Cubs offense was quieted by Tim Hudson but they scratched out just enough to win. Two of the Cubs three runs were driven in without a hit….including the winning one in the 11th by Reed Johnson.

Jim Edmonds’ Game Tying Home Run with Len Kasper’s Tribute to Jack Brickhouse

The Cubs start a 6-game (7 counting the Hall of Fame exhibition game on Monday) road trip North of the border in Toronto on Friday. Sean Gallagher is scheduled to face A.J. Burnett in the opener.

Quote of the Day

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