Game Ninety-Five – Cubs 2 Giants 4
WP – Tim Lincecum (11-2) LP – Ryan Dempster (10-4) Save – Brian Wilson (25)
The Cubs finished the first half of the season, unfortunately the same way it began, with a loss at home. In between the Cubs posted a 37-10 record at Wrigley and their 37-12 home mark is the best in the big leagues. Even with the loss, the Cubs finished the last homestand before the break winning 4 of 6 and 19 of their last 23 at the Friendly Confines.
Ryan Dempster lost his first game of the year at Wrigley and was both out pitched and out hit by Tim Lincecum. Lincecum not only dominated the Cubs on the mound but he drove in the eventual winning run with his first career triple. In two games against the Cubs pitching staff, Lincecum notched the game winning RBI in each contest.
The Giants plated three of their four runs in the 3rd inning. Ray Durham had the big hit, a 2-out, 2 RBI single to right field.
The Cubs offense managed only 1 run off Lincecum in 8 innings. Jim Edmonds doubled in Mark DeRosa after DeRosa reached on the only free pass issued by Lincecum. The Cubs had chances in both the 8th and 9th innings and two runners on base in each frame. But Aramis Ramirez could not cash in on the extra chance he received when Bengie Molina dropped a pop up in foul ground. Ramirez grounded into a 5-3 inning ending double play.
The Cubs cut the Giants lead to 4-2 in the 9th off of Brian Wilson and put the tying runs on base with only 1 out. Jim Edmonds worked a 1-out walk and advanced to 2nd on a single to center by Reed Johnson. Geovany Soto pinch hit for Henry Blanco and drove in Edmonds with a single to right center. Daryle Ward looked at strike three on the outside corner and Ryan Theriot grounded out to 2nd base to end the game.
While Dempster’s line from Sunday was respectable….a triple by the pitcher, a walk and a 2-out single was the difference in the game.
Chad Gaudin retired 6 of the 7 batters he faced in the last 2 innings to give his team a chance at the comeback. Gaudin struck out 2 in 2 innings of work.
Lou Piniella correctly said the Cubs had a very successful first half, especially with all of the injuries they dealt with over the past 6 weeks. For only the seventh time since 1933, the Chicago Cubs are leading their division at the All-Star break.
For the Cubs, they made it easy on Lincecum early on and that was their downfall. They looked like a team ready for a break and the typically patient offense did not look at the number of pitches they have on a day in and day out in the first half. After the 6th inning, Lincecum had thrown only 80 pitches.
Ryan Dempster had the one bad inning….a trend that must stop for the Cubs’ pitching staff in the second half. Omar Vizquel started the big inning with a 1-out single to left on a 0-2 pitch. Tim Lincecum bunted through Dempster’s first offering but Vizquel advanced to 2nd on what appeared to be a delayed steal. Lincecum lined the next pitch from Dempster into right field.
Mark DeRosa tried to make a shoe string catch but missed and the ball rolled past him all the way to the wall….1-0 Giants. With Lincecum at 3rd, Dempster walked Fred Lewis on 5 pitches and Jose Castillo popped out to Mike Fontenot in shallow right for the 2nd out. But on the pitch before, Lewis stole 2nd.
Ray Durham worked the count to 3-2, then lined a single into right….3-0 Giants.
With the overworked and short bullpen, Ryan Dempster took the mound in the 7th and gave up another run. Rich Aurilia singled to left on a 1-2 pitch. Dempster retired both Vizquel and Lincecum but Fred Lewis hit a triple into the right field corner. DeRosa and Fontenot made good relay throws to Henry Blanco, but Aurilia slid under the tag….4-1 Giants.
The first half came had a disappointing ending and there should be plenty of excitement in the second half….stay tuned.
Most of the Cubs are off for the next 4 days for the 79th Midsummer Classic in New York. Carlos Marmol received the most votes for a reliever by the players and will replace Kerry Wood in Tuesday’s All-Star game. Along with Marmol, Geovany Soto, Kosuke Fukudome, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Kerry Wood and Alfonso Soriano will join Lou Piniella in the visitor’s dugout at Yankee Stadium.
The CCO will have a Talkin’ All-Stars Live up before the game on Tuesday as the baseball world watches to see which league will receive home field advantage throughout the World Series.
The Cubs will kick off the second half of the season in Houston on Friday night behind Ted Lilly.