Another Gem for Dempster….Cubs Sweep!

Game Seventy-Six – Cubs 7 White Sox 1
WP – Ryan Dempster (9-2) LP – Javier Vazquez (7-6) Save – None

wflag.jpgThe Cubs won their 14th straight at Wrigley Field for the first time since June 4 – July 10, 1936 and their sixth straight against the White Sox behind another dominating performance by Ryan Dempster. Dempster allowed only 1 run in 8+ innings on 10 hits with 4 strikeouts and a walk. The key to Dempster’s success was staying ahead in the count for a majority of the game and the three double plays turned by the Cubs defense. Dempster threw first pitch strikes to 26 of the 32 hitters he faced.

The Cubs offense gave Dempster a 2-run lead in the 1st inning and then Aramis Ramirez, Eric Patterson and Derrek Lee took care of the rest. Lee drove in the first run of the game with a single to right center and added a RBI double in the 8th inning. Eric Patterson had another tremendous game hitting behind Kosuke Fukudome. Patterson was 2-for-3 with 2 walks, 3 runs scored, 2 RBI’s and his first career home run.

Patterson gave the Cubs a 4-0 lead with a 2-run dinger that landed in the basket in right center in the 5th. Aramis Ramirez hit his 4th home run of the series a batter later, his 14th of the year gave the Cubs a 5-0 lead. Ramirez drove in his 8th run of the series with a RBI double in the 7th.

With the win the Cubs improved to 20 games over .500 for the second time this season….and swept the Sox in round one of the Crosstown Classic.

The Cubs continue to play like an entirely different team at Wrigley. Lou Piniella’s crew played a complete game on Sunday night. All phases of the team clicked….outstanding pitching, great defense and the offense was not only patient, they hit the ball where it was pitched and with power.

To this point of the season Ryan Dempster has out performed all expectations….and his numbers prove the point. Dempster’s ERA dropped from 2.76 to 2.63 and he became only the 5th Cubs’ pitcher since 1945 to win his 9th straight at home. Jon Lieber won 11 in 2001, Rick Reuschel won 10 in 1979 and 9 in 1977, Bob Rush won 10 in 1956 and Johnny Schmitz won 9 in 1948.

Dempster allowed 10 hits, but 8 were singles and only 2 doubles. He threw 103 pitches, 74 for strikes (Lou Piniella stated after the game that Dempster would be pushed back to Saturday for his next start due to the amount of pitches he threw on Sunday). Dempster faced the minimum on only 6 pitches in the 5th and the only run he allowed was in the 7th.

Jermaine Dye doubled to right to start the 7th. Mark DeRosa robbed Nick Swisher of a single to right with a good diving stop and threw out Swisher from his knees….Dye advanced to 3rd and scored on a single to center by Joe Crede, his only hit of the series. With the score 5-1 at the time, Dempster retired the next two batters (Dewayne Wise and Alexei Ramirez) on just 3 pitches to end the inning. At the end of 7 complete innings, Dempster had thrown only 82 pitches.

Dempster took the mound in the 9th after working around a lead off double by Jim Thome in the 8th. Dye led off the inning with a single to right, Eric Patterson made a good play to cut the ball off and hold Dye to a single. Swisher followed with an infield single that Aramis Ramirez let roll….the ball hit the bag. With two on and no outs, Lou Piniella made the slow walk and brought in Bobby Howry.

Howry retired the next three batters on 10 pitches to end the game and complete the sweep.

The Cubs offense took advantage of control problems by Javier Vazquez in the 1st inning….and once they got the lead, they kept tacking on. Vazquez walked Kosuke Fukudome and Eric Patterson on 8 pitches to start the game. Fukudome stole 2nd, without a throw, during Patterson’s at bat.

Piniella started the runners with a 1-2 count on Derrek Lee. Lee singled to center, Fukudome scored easily and after Orlando Cabrera bobbled the ball, Patterson scored to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead….very good baserunning, what one would expect from a Major Leaguer.

Vazquez settled down in the 2nd and 3rd innings. But a “little single” by Ryan Theriot in the 4th flipped the order and setup the 3-run 5th inning.

Vazquez hit Kosuke Fukudome in the elbow to start the inning (Vazquez walked a season-high 5 batters and counting the hit batsman, 6 free base runners and 3 of them scored). Eric Patterson followed and golfed a 0-1 pitch from Vazquez into the basket in right center. Derrek Lee struck out for the first out of the inning.

Aramis Ramirez crushed the first pitch from Vazquez into the bleachers in left center to give the Cubs a 5-0 lead.

Derrek Lee worked a 1-out walk in the 7th after falling behind in the count 1-2 to Octavio Dotel. Aramis Ramirez worked the count to 3-2 as well before depositing a double into right center that rolled all the way to the ivy. Lee scored from 1st. Ozzie Guillen intentionally walked Jim Edmonds and Mark DeRosa reached on an error by Joe Crede to load the bases. Ryan Theriot battled Dotel, ran the count to 3-2 but struck out swinging on the 43rd pitch of the inning.

Eric Patterson beat out an infield single to short with 2 outs in the 8th and scored on a double to right by Derrek Lee that just missed leaving the park….the Cubs 7th and final run of the game.

After struggling to score runs in Tampa, Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee both stepped up during the weekend series….and for the time being, Lou Piniella might have found a good combination at the top of the lineup with Kosuke Fukudome and Eric Patterson. Everything is working at Wrigley right now. Lou Piniella is pushing all of the right buttons….

The Cubs get a well-deserved day off on Monday and then welcome the Baltimore Orioles to Wrigley for the first time on Tuesday. Sean Marshall is scheduled to face Jeremy Guthrie in the opener of the 3-game series.

Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver