Game Ninety – Cubs 7 Reds 3
WP – Ryan Dempster (10-3) LP – Aaron Harang (3-11) Save – None
The Cubs won their 34th game of the year at the Friendly Confines behind the 10th win of the season by Ryan Dempster. Dempster struggled with his command early in the game. He walked five in 7 innings, including four in the 4th that forced in the only run he allowed. The Reds managed only 2 hits and could not capitalize on his lack of control. Jim Edmonds robbed Jerry Hairston, Jr. of a single to start the game and Aramis Ramirez took two hits away from his former teammate on spectacular plays in the 3rd and 5th innings.
Carlos Marmol put together another strong outing and bailed the Cubs out of trouble with two on and 1 out in the 8th. Marmol struck out Adam Dunn swinging to end the inning. Bobby Howry allowed 2 runs on 3 hits in the 9th.
The Cubs and Reds walked a combined 14 batters on the night and all in all it was a very poorly pitched ballgame. Aaron Harang walked a career high 7 batters in 4 1/3 innings.
Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto and Mike Fontenot drove 6 of the Cubs’ 7 runs. Ramirez tripled and scored the Cubs’ first run on a sacrifice fly by Soto in the 2nd. Ramirez drove in the Cubs second run in the 3rd with a sacrifice fly of his own. Mike Fontenot hit his 6th home run of the year in the 4th and his 2-run shot gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead. Geovany Soto added a 2-run dinger in the 5th, his 16th of the season.
On the day Jim Hendry added two very good arms to his pitching staff, Lou Piniella’s crew improved to 18 games over .500. One of the areas the Cubs must continue to improve on, is their overall defense but on Tuesday night the Cubs’ play in the field was the difference early on and allowed the offense a chance to get to Aaron Harang.
Aramis Ramirez led off the 2nd with a triple down the right field line. Ramirez blooped a hit into right and Ken Griffey, Jr. tried to make a diving catch. Griffey was a little late and the ball bounced past him and rolled to the wall. Geovany Soto followed with a sacrifice fly just to the left of straight away center….Ramirez scored, 1-0 Cubs.
Aaron Harang could not find the strike zone and after Ryan Theriot led off the 3rd with a single, Harang walked Kosuke Fukudome and Derrek Lee to load the bases. Aramis Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly into center that plated Theriot with the Cubs’ second run. Soto struck out and Jim Edmonds flied out to right to end the inning….the Cubs loaded the bases once again with no outs, and came away with only one run.
Mark DeRosa started the 4th with Harang’s fourth walk of the game. Mike Fontenot looked at strike one before hitting his 6th home run of the season into the basket in center. Lou Piniella calls him “Little Fontenot” and Ron Santo calls him “Little Babe Ruth“….call him whatever you would like, but he has come up with some big hits of late for the Cubs. His 2-run homer gave the Cubs a little breathing room against a very good offensive team.
The Cubs added to their lead in the 5th against Aaron Harang. Derrek Lee walked to start the inning and stole 2nd with Aramis Ramirez at the plate….Lee broke on the 3-2 pitch that Ramirez chased in the dirt for the first out of the inning. Geovany Soto crushed a 1-2 pitch from Harang into the bleachers in left center.
Dusty Baker removed Harang after he allowed 6 runs on 5 hits with 6 strikeout and 7 walks in 4 1/3 innings.
The Cubs 7th and final run came in the 6th after Mike Fontenot led off with a double to right. Ryan Dempster walked on 4 pitches and both Fontenot and Dempster advanced on a wild pitch by Jeremy Affeldt. On a 1-2 pitch to Theriot, Paul Bako let the next pitch get past him and the passed ball allowed Fontenot to score from 3rd….7-1 Cubs.
Ryan Dempster struggled with his command in the first 5 innings before retiring the last 10 batters he faced. He worked around hitting Jay Bruce in the 1st inning (Bruce was 0-for-4 in his Wrigley Field debut with 4 strikeouts). The only 2 hits Dempster allowed came in the 2nd inning by Jeff Keppinger and Joey Votto. Paul Bako lined into a 4-6 double play to end the inning.
Dempster retired the Reds in order for the first time in the 3rd on just 10 pitches, but the 4th was a struggle from beginning to end.
Ken Griffey, Jr. started the inning with a walk. Brandon Phillips struck out swinging for the first out but Dempster walked Adam Dunn. With runners on 1st and 2nd and 1-out, Jeff Keppinger blooped a hit into shallow right center. Griffey and Dunn had to hold to make sure the ball dropped and Kosuke Fukudome played the one-hop perfectly and threw out Dunn for the “very common” 9-6 putout. Dempster walked Votto to load the bases with 2 outs and then threw 4 straight out of the zone to Paul Bako to force in the Reds first run.
After Fontenot’s home run, Dempster settled down. He retired the Reds in order in the 5th on 9 pitches and did not allow another runner to reach in his 7 innings of work.
Neal Cotts struggled with his command in his only inning of work. He walked Jerry Hairston, Jr. to start the inning but struck out Jay Bruce swinging. After Cotts walked Griffey, Piniella made the slow walk and brought in Carlos Marmol to face Brandon Phillips.
Phillips popped out to Aramis Ramirez and Adam Dunn struck out to end the inning. Marmol was effective with good command for his third straight outing.
Bobby Howry gave up the Reds’ other 2 runs on 3 hits in the 9th, but struck out Jay Bruce to end the game.
The Cubs did not let all of the pre-game news keep them from posting their 54th win of the year….and they started the last homestand of the first half on a winning note.
Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to face Johnny Cueto on Wednesday night. The Cubs will make a roster move on Wednesday in the wake of Tuesday’s trade.