Twenty Over

Game Seventy – Cubs 7 Blue Jays 4
WP – Ted Lilly (7-5) LP – Jesse Litsch (7-3) Save – None

wflag.jpgIn a game that started with the roof opened and finished with it closed, the Cubs moved to 20 games over .500 behind a strong performance by Ted Lilly and clutch 2-out hits by Jim Edmonds, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. Lou Piniella’s crew posted their third winning road series of the year….and the first ever series win against the Toronto Blue Jays. After scoring only 2 runs in the opener, the Cubs’ offense scored 7 more runs on Sunday for a two-day total of 13 with 5 of the 7 runs scoring with 2 outs.

Ted Lilly followed Jason Marquis’ performance on Saturday with a solid outing of his own. The former Blue Jay struggled with his command, walked a season-high 5 batters but gave up only 1 hit and made the big pitch when he needed it. Lilly tossed 6 innings of shutout ball and the bullpen gave up 4 runs in the last 3 innings. Scott Eyre’s scoreless appearance streak came to end. After 33 straight without giving up a run, Eyre allowed one to cross the plate in the 7th that ended the shutout. Neal Cotts surrendered a 2-run homer to Gregg Zaun in the 8th inning and Kerry Wood gave up a run in the 9th on a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs offense put up crooked numbers in both the 3rd and 7th innings. Micah Hoffpauir scored the games first run after a leadoff double and a single to right by Kosuke Fukudome. The Cubs scored 3 runs on 5 hits, 4 singles and a double, in 3rd. Derrek Lee had another big game. He was 2-for-4 with a walk, a run scored and 3 RBI’s. Lee’s 2-out, 2-run single to center in the 7th gave the Cubs a 5-0 lead. Aramis Ramirez followed with his 10th home run of the year….his 2-run shot to left center gave the Cubs what appeared to be a comfortable 7-0 lead. Reed Johnson delivered another good game against his former team….Johnson was 2-for-5 with 2 runs scored. Jim Edmonds added 2 more hits in 4 trips to the plate, a RBI single in the 3rd and a double in the 7th.

The Blue Jays battled back and cut the lead to 7-3 to start the 9th. Alex Rios led off the inning with a single to center. Marco Scutaro then hit a slow bouncer to 2nd base, Mark DeRosa had to wait for Rios to pass and made a quick throw to Hoffpauir at 1st. Scutaro was called out, John Gibbons was ejected and replays showed the Cubs caught a break. Joe Inglett followed with a single to right and Vernon Wells drove in the 4th run with a sacrifice fly to right. With the score 7-4, Matt Stairs flied out, ironically enough, to Reed Johnson in left to end the game.

The Cubs rebounded nicely in a series that did not look winnable after losing the first game against A.J. Burnett. With the win, Lou Piniella’s crew improved to 16-17 on the road with 3 games and an exhibition left on the trip….

The Cubs played another good game on the road for the second straight day, a rarity away from Wrigley Field this season. Lou Piniella received a solid team effort, with the possible exception of the bullpen, his big bats stepped up and he received his fourth quality start in five games. With one the ‘Big Three‘ on the shelf, the Cubs starters needed to pick up their performances….and they have responded quite well.

Micah Hoffpauir jump-started the offense with a lead off double to right in the 3rd. Reed Johnson singled to right with 1 out and with runners on 1st and 3rd, Kosuke Fukudome drove in the game’s first run with a single to right. Derrek Lee followed with a bloop single to right that plated Johnson from 3rd.

After a 3-minute delay while the roof finished closing enough for Aramis Ramirez to see, he flied out to right and Fukudome tagged and advanced to 3rd on the play. Jim Edmonds stepped in and hit a seeing-eye-single to center….Fukudome scored, 3-0 Cubs. Edmonds’ RBI single gave him 14 runs driven in as a Cub.

The Cubs offense was shutdown by Jesse Litsch until the 7th inning. Ryan Theriot ended an 0-for-13 slump with a single to center. Lou Piniella put the hit and run on for Reed Johnson and he responded with a double down the 3rd base line. Kosuke Fukudome lined out to 1st for the second out of the inning. Derrek Lee looked at strike one from Shawn Camp before singling to center. Theriot scored easily and Johnson appeared to be thrown out by Vernon Wells but Rod Barajas could not hold onto the ball….Johnson was safe, 5-0 Cubs. Aramis Ramirez took advantage of the extra out and lined a 2-run homer just over the wall in left center….his first long ball since May 26th and his first on the road since May 20th in Houston.

The Cubs ability to add to their lead, those tack on runs Piniella preaches about, gave them a little breathing room as the bullpen had a rare rough outing.

Ted Lilly did his job and beat his former team. Lilly was cruising right along until the 3rd inning. Lilly walked John McDonald with 1-out, the second free pass he surrendered to that point, then proceeded to walk Alex Rios. Scutaro grounded out to short, Rios was forced for the second out but Lilly walked Scott Rolen to load the bases. With his team down 3-0, Vernon Wells popped out to 2nd base on the first pitch from Lilly to end the inning….Wells bailed out Ted Lilly.

Brad Wilkerson singled to center pass Mark DeRosa for the first hit of the game for the Blue Jays. Gregg Zaun grounded out to short to end the inning. Lilly struck out the side in the 5th and escaped the 6th inning without allowing a run. Vernon Wells reached on an error by Ryan Theriot and Kevin Mench walked for the second time. Rod Barajas appeared to tie the game at 3….and Lilly thought so as well. As Lilly hopped up and down on the mound, Reed Johnson caught the ball at the wall to end the inning.

Scott Eyre walked Gregg Zaun to start the 7th. A wild pitch advanced Zaun to 2nd and McDonald grounded out to 2nd….Zaun advanced to 3rd on the play. Alex Rios drove in Zaun with a sacrifice fly to right. Scutaro recorded the Blue Jays second hit with a single to left and Joe Inglett followed with a double down the left field line. Lou Piniella made the slow walk and replaced Eyre with Carlos Marmol.

With the Cubs up 7-1 and two on with 2 outs, Marmol fell behind 3-0 to Vernon Wells before inducing a fly out to left to end the inning.

Marmol retired the first two batters he faced in the 8th before Piniella brought in Neal Cotts to face Brad Wilkerson. Cotts walked Wilkerson, with 2 outs, before serving up a 2 run shot to Gregg Zaun….Zaun’s homer made the game much closer than it needed to be. Kerry Wood struggled with his command in the 9th and got the benefit of a call at 1st base.

As mentioned, the Cubs put together a good win in a difficult place to play….and the series win against the Blue Jays and their strong pitching staff was a positive way to start a three city road trip.

The Cubs and 15 players from their farm system will play the San Diego Padres in the final Hall of Fame Game on Monday afternoon. The Cubs will reportedly call up 7 pitchers from their minor league system to play in the exhibition game. The next regular season game will take place on Tuesday night in St. Petersburg against the Tampa Bay Rays….Ryan Dempster is scheduled to face Scott Kazmir in the opener of the 3-game series.

Quote of the Day

"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." - Albert Einstein