Two Games for the Price of One

Game Ninety-Four – Cubs 8 Giants 7 – 11 innings
WP – Sean Marshall (2-2) LP – Brian Wilson (0-2) Save – None

wflag.jpgThe Cubs ended up winning the ballgame on Saturday afternoon….and that is all that really matters. In what was shaping up to be a great debut and a very memorable win for Rich Harden, the Cubs improved to 20 games over .500 for the fourth time this season with little help from the bullpen, but a strong 2 inning performance in extra innings by Sean Marshall. Lou Piniella’s crew played two contests against the Giants, the unforgettable one from the 1st inning until the 7th and the very forgettable one from the 8th inning until Reed Johnson came through with the game winner in the 11th inning.

Rich Harden came as advertised. He dominated the Giants offense through the first 5 innings and allowed only 4 hits while striking out 9. Harden showed the velocity and control the Cubs were expecting when they traded for him last week. Harden struck out the second batter of the game, Jose Castillo, on a 96 MPH fastball and of the 10 strikeouts he recorded, 8 were of the swinging variety. Harden left after 5 1/3 innings of shutout ball and struck out the last batter he faced….swinging.

Lou Piniella pulled Harden after 1-out in the 6th and he left to a standing ovation, a truly special moment at the Friendly Confines. Piniella brought in Chad Gaudin to finish the 6th after the Cubs built a 7-0 lead. Kevin Hart made his first appearance since being recalled on Friday and retired the Giants in order in the 7th. It looked like the game was well in hand and Rich Harden would receive his first victory as a Chicago Cub.

Jim Edmonds drove in 4 of the Cubs first 7 runs. Edmonds gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead with a 2-run shot to right in the 3rd after a 2-out walk by Geovany Soto. Edmonds then drove in a pair in the 4th with a double down the right field line. All four of Edmonds’ RBI’s came with 2 outs. Mark DeRosa drove in Edmonds with a single to center in the 4th.

Game two….Ray Durham singled to center to start the 8th and was doubled home by Bengie Molina with the Giants first run. The shutout was over but the Cubs were still ahead by six. Aaron Rowand followed with a single to center that plated Molina with the second run of the inning….and quietly the Giants had cut the Cubs lead to five.

Carlos Marmol took the mound in the 9th. Lou Piniella announced after the game Kerry Wood was not available because of the blister on his finger. Wood will not be used on Sunday, along with Marmol, and will likely not pitch in the All-Star game.

Marmol gave up the first career big league hit to Ivan Ochoa, a double to left. Marmol retired Eugenio Velez on ground out to 2nd and Ochoa advanced to 3rd on the play. Jose Castillo reached on an infield single that Carlos Marmol simply misplayed. He was not given an error but he was trying to keep the third run of the inning from scoring….and failed to get an out. As Piniella said after the game, this was the pivotal play in the inning. Marmol must get the out and forget about the meaningless run.

So with the score 7-2 and only 1 out, Ray Durham singled to center. Ochoa scored and Castillo advanced to 3rd on the play. Bengie Molina singled in Castillo with the Giants fourth run and Marmol walked Aaron Rowand to load the bases.

John Bowker grounded out to Derrek Lee, Rowand was forced at 2nd but Durham scored on the fielder’s choice….7-5 Cubs. Marmol reloaded the bases when he hit Rich Aurilia and Eliezer Alfonso followed with what appeared to be a game tying single to left. Ryan Theriot made a great stop but tried to make a play instead of just holding the ball, threw the ball over Mike Fontenot’s head at 2nd and pinch runner Emmanuel Burriss scored the tying run on the error.

The Cubs wasted the outing by Rich Harden as the crowd on hand stood and starred with pure disgust and amazement.

Sean Marshall threw two shutout innings and retired all six batters he faced in relief of Marmol….and picked up the win. Marshall started the 11th with a hard liner to center and after a walk by Mark DeRosa and a failed sacrifice bunt by Mike Fontenot put DeRosa at 2nd with the winning run, Reed Johnson singled to right and DeRosa slid across home plate….

With one game left to play before the All-Star break, the Cubs need the time off. Saturday was a win that took just a “little” too long, but one the Cubs had to have after playing so good in game one.

The Cubs offense had a good day at the office and gave their new starter time to settle in on the mound at Wrigley. The Cubs figured out Kevin Correia pretty quickly and hit the ball very hard in the first inning….but came away with little to show for.

Mark DeRosa tripled to right center with 1-out. Aaron Rowand attempted to make a sliding stop to keep the ball from rolling to the wall, but kicked it and DeRosa made it all the way to 3rd with a head first slide. Mike Fontenot drove in the first run of the day with a single to center.

Kevin Correia retired Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez with ease in the 3rd but walked Geovany Soto with 2 outs….the turning point in game one. Jim Edmonds followed with his 10th home run of the year into the right field bleachers, number nine as a Cub.

Mark DeRosa and Mike Fontenot walked but Rich Harden struck out to end the inning….one of three on the afternoon for the former American League pitcher.

Ryan Theriot singled to right center to start the 4th. With Derrek Lee at the plate, Correia uncorked a wild pitch. Theriot advanced to 2nd and scored on a single to center by Lee. Aramis Ramirez flied out for the 2nd out but Soto reached on a single to left. Jim Edmonds lined a double down the right field line. Lee scored easily and Mike Quade waived Soto in….the play was close and it was the right call, as it turned out. Edmonds advanced to 3rd on the throw and scored on the single to center by Mark DeRosa.

The Cubs offense scored all 7 of their runs from the 2nd – 4th innings and were unable to add those all-important tack on runs that Piniella preaches about. In today’s game, teams must score early and often. Running up the score was once an unwritten rule of baseball, but those days are as long gone as days when starting pitchers used to throw complete game after complete game and annually total 300-plus innings.

Ryan Dempster is scheduled to face Tim Lincecum in the final game before the break on Sunday. A win would be a great way to spend a long break, and for some, time in New York with their skipper.

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