Z Wins Z Battle – Cubs 7 Brewers 1

Game One Hundred Seven – Cubs 7 Brewers 1
WP – Carlos Zambrano (12-4) LP – Ben Sheets (10-4) Save – None

wflag.jpgFor the first time since June 2nd and June 3rd in San Diego, the Chicago Cubs won back-to-back games on the road after beating the Brewers for the second straight night at Miller Park. Carlos Zambrano outpitched Ben Sheets in what was a pitcher’s duel until the 6th inning. Zambrano tossed 8 shutout innings and allowed only 5 hits with 2 walks and 9 strikeouts, a season high. Zambrano pitched his way out of his only jam of the night in the 2nd inning. After a lead off walk to Prince Fielder and a single by Corey Hart, Big Z struck out Russell Branyan swinging and Mike Cameron looking before Jason Kendall grounded out to Ryan Theriot to end the inning.

Mark DeRosa gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the 4th inning with a sacrifice fly and Zambrano made it hold up until the 6th inning. The Cubs offense plated 4 runs on 7 consecutive hits off Ben Sheets before the first out of the inning was recorded. The Cubs added a run on a sacrifice fly by Alfonso Soriano and if not for a great catch by Mike Cameron at the wall in center on a ball hit by Derrek Lee, it might have been more.

The Cubs sent 10 to the plate in the inning but the big hit was a triple to left by Kosuke Fukudome. Ryan Braun misplayed the ball, tried to make a diving catch on the sinking liner and missed. Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez scored to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead. Mark DeRosa added his second RBI of the game with a single to left and Carlos Zambrano added a RBI, his 9th of the year, with an infield single in the inning.

The ‘Big Three‘ came through once again for their team. Alfonso Soriano finished 1-for-4 with a RBI and Derrek Lee was 1-for-5 with a run scored but it was Aramis Ramirez time to shine on Tuesday night. Ramirez hit three doubles for the third time in his career and recorded 4 straight hits after he popped out to Jason Kendall in foul ground to end the 1st inning. Ramirez became the first Cub this season to hit three doubles in the same game and he drove in a run and scored a pair.

The Cubs offense recorded 11 hits off of Ben Sheets, tied a season-high, and finished with 15 on the night. Each starter had at least one hit and Soriano and Soto were the only two Cubs not to score a run.

Lou Piniella’s crew put together another impressive win on the road against one of the best pitchers in the National League….the Cubs improved to 19 games over .500 on the season after Tuesday’s victory at Miller Park.

Before the series began most figured if the Cubs could split the first two games against CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets it would be a successful start of the 4-game series….but someone forgot to tell the Cubs. For all of the problems and miscues on the road this season, Lou Piniella has had his team ready to play for the last two games and they have put together two of their more impressive wins of the year….away from Wrigley.

While it is only two games in July, the Cubs have not fared to well against the league’s better pitchers over the last several seasons….but they showed a lot by beating the Brewers in back-to-back games with a reigning Cy Young winner starting game one and a Cy Young candidate taking the hill in game two.

Ben Sheets was very sharp in the 1st inning and retired 3 of the 4 batters he faced, but unlike the first match up of the season, the Cubs made him work. The Cubs worked the count to start the game and then began hitting the ball hard, without any results, in the 2nd inning.

Alfonso Soriano reached 3rd in the 3rd after a 1-out single, a stolen base and a groundout up the middle by Ryan Theriot. But Sheets struck out Derrek Lee swinging to end the inning and for the second time in the first 3 innings the Cubs stranded a runner at 3rd base in a scoreless game.

Aramis Ramirez led off the 4th with a double to right center on the first pitch from Sheets. A wild pitch advanced him to 3rd with Fukudome at the plate but Kosuke struck out on a 3-2 pitch. Mark DeRosa stepped in and ripped the first pitch from Sheets into center and Ramirez scored the game’s first run.

Sheets worked around a lead off single by Geovany Soto in the 5th after Carlos Zambrano popped out on a bunt attempt and broke his bat over his knee.

Derrek Lee started the 5-run 6th inning with a soft single to left on a 2-2 pitch from Sheets. Aramis Ramirez followed with a double off the wall in left that appeared to be a home run when the ball left the bat. Kosuke Fukudome (2-for-5 with a run scored, 2 RBI’s, a double and a triple) followed and ripped Sheets’ first pitch to into left. Ryan Braun tried to make a diving catch on a sinking liner but missed and the ball rolled all the way to the wall….Lee and Ramirez scored and Kosuke ended up at 3rd.

With the infield in, Mark DeRosa singled to left on a 3-0 pitch to plate Fukudome with the Cubs 4th run. Mike Fontenot blooped a single into left center on the first pitch and Geovany Soto followed with a hard single to left to load the bases.

Ned Yost brought his infield in and Carlos Zambrano reached on an infield single to the hole at short. J.J. Hardy made a good stop and his only play was at the plate, he hit DeRosa in the back with the ball….DeRosa scored, 5-0 Cubs. Alfonso Soriano followed with a sacrifice fly to center, Fontenot scored and the Cubs were up 6-0.

Ned Yost lifted Sheets and brought in Carlos Villanueva….the Cubs scored 6 runs, all earned, on 11 hits with a walk and 4 strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings against Ben Sheets.

The Cubs 7th run came in the 9th after a lead off triple by Ryan Theriot and a 1-out single by Aramis Ramirez.

Carlos Zambrano became the first Cubs’ pitcher to reach the 12-win plateau on the season with a dominating performance over the Brewers. Zambrano worked around putting the leadoff hitter on in 4 of the first 5 innings and was able to contain his emotions after breaking another bat over his knee in a close game.

The most impressive pitch of the night from Zambrano came in the 7th inning. After blowing one by Rickie Weeks for strike two, Zambrano pulled the string on a curve ball to end the at bat as Weeks missed badly on the off speed pitch.

The Brewers’ only run of the game came in the 9th off of Jeff Samardzija. After striking out Prince Fielder swinging and Corey Hart on a liner to 3rd, the Shark issued a 2-out walk to Russell Branyan. Mike Cameron followed with a double to left center and Branyan scored from 1st. Jason Kendall grounded out to 3rd for the 27th out.

Again it is only two games in July, but….

Ryan Dempster is scheduled to face Manny Parra in game three of round one on Wednesday night.

Quote of the Day

"It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself." - Eleanor Roosevelt
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