Game One Hundred Eight – Cubs 7 Brewers 2
WP – Ryan Dempster (12-4) LP – Manny Parra (9-4) Save – None
Lou Piniella’s crew put together another impressive win behind Ryan Dempster on Wednesday night. Dempster picked up his second straight road victory with a solid 7-inning performance. The only run Dempster allowed came on a wild pitch in the 1st inning. Dempster gave up 5 hits, two to Manny Parra, walked 1 and struck out 9. Dempster did his best Carlos Zambrano imitation and started the Cubs 3-run 6th inning with a 1-out single to left….he scored the Cubs’ third run of the game on Ryan Theriot’s triple.
Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Theriot reached base ten times on the night and scored 3 of the Cubs’ 7 runs. Ryan Theriot had the big hit in the game, his third triple of the season drove in a pair and gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead at the time. Theriot reached base in all 5 trips to the plate with his 43rd multi hit game of the season….3 hits, 2 walks and a sacrifice bunt.
The big play in the game once again involved Reed Johnson. Johnson had a good night at the plate, 3-for-5 with a 2-out RBI, but it was his swinging strikeout in the 1st inning that gave the Cubs the lead.
Alfonso Soriano began the game with a single to left on a 0-2 pitch from Manny Parra. Ryan Theriot sacrificed him to 2nd and Soriano stole 3rd on a 3-0 pitch to Derrek Lee. With runners on 1st and 3rd and 1-out following a walk to Derrek Lee, Parra struck out Aramis Ramirez and appeared to get out of the inning when Johnson swung and missed on a ball in the dirt on a 3-2 pitch. The ball squirted between the legs of Jason Kendall and rolled all the way to the backstop. Soriano scored as Prince Fielder could not handle Kendall’s throw. Lee advanced to 3rd on the play and scored on a 2-out single to center by Mark DeRosa.
Chad Gaudin retired all three batters he faced in the 8th on 11 pitches and Neal Cotts gave up a solo home run to Prince Fielder in the 9th that accounted for the Brewers’ second run.
After a less than impressive start to the second half, the Cubs won their third in a row over the Brewers and their fourth consecutive road game. The difference in the last three games has been the performances by the Cubs’ starters. Ted Lilly, Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster surrendered a total of 4 earned runs to the Brewers….Zambrano and Dempster a combined 1 run in 15 innings with 18 strikeouts.
On a night Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez were held hitless, the Cubs put 7 runs on the board, without a home run, on 15 hits with 8 walks. Lou Piniella’s crew improved to 20 games over .500 on the year and improved their road record to 25-30 on the season…. The Cubs won their 4th game in a row with the same patience at the plate that led to the first two wins of the series. The Cubs made Manny Parra work but it was likely a triple by Parra in the 5th inning that had the biggest impact in the game.
The Cubs offense could not take advantage of the many opportunities they had against Parra in the first 5 innings. Parra did not record a single 1-2-3 inning and pitched his way in and out of trouble all night. Ryan Dempster was making the 2 runs the Cubs were given in the 1st inning hold up until the 6th.
Manny Parra reached on a 2-out triple in the 5th. Parra tried to sacrifice Jason Kendall into scoring position with 1-out in a 2-1 game. Ned Yost called for the hit and run, Parra missed the outside pitch and Henry Blanco threw out Kendall by a mile. Parra then ripped a 2-2 pitch from Ryan Dempster into left center. Reed Johnson dove and Alfonso Soriano ran past the ball and Parra lumbered around the bases. Ray Durham grounded out to 3rd to end the inning and Kendall even tried to give his pitcher a breathier before he threw the first pitch in the 6th….but it did not work.
Parra struck out Henry Blanco to start the inning but Ryan Dempster followed with a single to left. Alfonso Soriano singled to center and Ryan Theriot cleared the bases with a triple into right center. Ned Yost lifted Manny Parra following the 2-run triple by Theriot and brought in Carlos Villanueva.
With the infield in, Derrek Lee struck out for the second out but Aramis Ramirez walked on 4 pitches….it appeared Villanueva was pitching around Ramirez with Theriot on 3rd and 2 outs. Reed Johnson followed with a 2-out single to center on a 1-1 pitch and drove in the Cubs third run of the inning….and his ‘second’ of the night.
The Cubs continued to put runners on base in the 7th and 8th innings but could not add those all-important tack on runs.
Henry Blanco doubled off the wall in left with 1-out in the 9th. Ronny Cedeno pinch hit for Chad Gaudin and lined a single into right. With runners on 1st and 3rd and 1 out, Soriano walked to load the bases against Brian Shouse. Shouse then issued a 4-pitch walk to Ryan Theriot to force in Blanco.
Derrek Lee hit a slow roller to Bill Hall, he stepped on 3rd for the second out of the inning but Cedeno scored the Cubs’ 7th and final run of the game.
The call of the game though has to go to Lou Piniella. After Soriano started the game with a single to left, Piniella had Theriot sacrifice him into scoring position. That decision allowed Soriano to steal 3rd and score on a wild pitch. Piniella knows the importance of keep the momentum in a series and by the Cubs scoring in the 1st inning the way they did took the Brewers out of the game before they ever stepped to the plate.
The Cubs have out scored the Brewers 20-7 in the first three games and the final score on Wednesday was much closer than it needed to be….
Rich Harden is scheduled to face Dave Bush in the final game of round one on Thursday afternoon….