Zhaky Ztart..Zolid Middle..Znuff at the End..Cubs Win!

Game Fifty-Eight – Cubs 7 Padres 6
WP – Carlos Zambrano (8-1) LP – Cha Seung Baek (1-2) Save – Kerry Wood (15)

wflag.jpgLou Piniella’s crew held on to win the first game of the road trip after coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the 1st inning. Carlos Zambrano had little to no command, or control of himself, until he picked off Jody Gerut at 2nd base to end the 2nd inning. Zambrano led off the 3rd with a single then settled down. Zambrano turned in a better day at the plate than on the mound. Zambrano was 3-for-3 with a game tying triple in the 4th. As for the ‘day job‘, Big Z did just enough to earn the win. He left after 5 innings with his team up 6-3. Zambrano gave up 3 runs on 5 hits in 5 innings with 4 walks, a hit batsman and 2 strikeouts.

The Cubs’ middle relief had problems finding the strike zone with the exception of Jon Lieber. Neal Cotts worked around a lead off walk in the 7th but Michael Wuertz walked 2 of the 3 batters he faced before Piniella had enough. Carlos Marmol got the Cubs out of the jam in the 8th but was not as fortunate in the 9th. Marmol walked Jody Gerut to start the inning, gave up a 1-out broken bat bloop single to Brian Giles and then a 3-run homer to Adrian Gonzalez.

Kerry Wood replaced Marmol with only 1 out and the Cubs up by just a single run. Wood struck out Tony Clark on 3 pitches then Michael Barrett flied out to Reed Johnson on the warning track in left to end the game.

The Cubs offense was the difference on Monday night when the pitching staff just did not have it. Jim Edmonds drove in 2 runs with a pair of doubles and scored the tying run on Zambrano’s triple. Ryan Theriot was 3-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored, his 23rd multi hit game of the year. Kosuke Fukudome drove in the go ahead run in the 5th with a sacrifice fly to right and scored twice.

The Cubs came from behind once again to win their 8th in a row, their longest winning streak since 2001. For the first time since the end of the 2004 season the Cubs are 16 games over .500 and improved their road record to 11-13.

On a night that the pitching staff had trouble with their command, the offense’s ability to tack on runs and execute at the plate provided the win. All of Piniella’s starting nine, with the exception of Alfonso Soriano, had at least one hit….and Soriano came through with a RBI on a sacrifice fly to right in the 6th. Five different Cubs drove in runs (Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot, Kosuke Fukudome, Jim Edmonds and Carlos Zambrano), just another sign of a total team effort.

With the Cubs down by 3, they started chipping away in the 2nd inning. Aramis Ramirez led off the inning with a single to right. Kosuke Fukudome followed with a single to right center. With runners on 1st and 3rd and Jim Edmonds at the plate, Cha Seung Baek uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Ramirez to score from 3rd.

Kosuke Fukudome led off the 4th with a walk and scored all the way from 1st on a double down the right field line by Jim Edmonds. After two unproductive outs by Mark DeRosa and Henry Blanco, Carlos Zambrano hit a 2-out triple to right center that drove in Edmonds with the tying run. Soriano grounded out to 3rd to end the inning.

Ryan Theriot started the 5th with a single to right. Aramis Ramirez just missed a home run with a double off the left field wall. With the game tied at 3, Kosuke Fukudome hit a sacrifice fly to right that plated Theriot with the go ahead run….4-3 Cubs and for the 24th game in a row, the Cubs had a lead.

Mark DeRosa and Henry Blanco reached on singles to start the 6th. Carlos Zambrano attempted to sacrifice both runners into scoring position but beat the throw from 3rd by Kevin Kouzmanoff to load the bases. Alfonso Soriano hit a sacrifice fly to right on a 1-0 pitch to plate DeRosa and Blanco moved to 3rd on the play. Ryan Theriot drove in Blanco with an infield single up the middle. Tadahito Iguchi kept the ball from going into center but could not make the out at 2nd. Derrek Lee hit into a 4-3 (the second of the night) double play to end the inning.

The Cubs added their 7th run in the 7th after a 1-out walk by Kosuke Fukudome. With Edmonds at the plate, Fukudome stole 2nd on the first pitch of the at bat and then scored easily on Jim Edmonds second double of the game. The Padres pen retired the next 8 batters they faced to setup the bottom of the 9th.

Monday was a good win, especially on the road, on a night their ace and best reliever did not have it. Lou Piniella must find another bullpen arm he can rely on soon or risk burning out Carlos Marmol before the All-Star break. With Piniella’s reactions in the 8th and 9th innings on Monday, changes will be made….and probably as soon as possible. As stated, this was a good win for a team that needed one away from the Friendly Confines but the next week could be a very long one if the starters cannot give Piniella at least 6 innings.

Jason Marquis is scheduled to face Wil Ledezma in game two on Tuesday night.

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon