Game Ninety-One – Cubs 5 Reds 1
WP – Carlos Zambrano (10-3) LP – Johnny Cueto (7-9) Save – Kerry Wood (23)
Carlos Zambrano proved once again why he is the ace of the Chicago Cubs. Zambrano tossed a gem and faced just one over the minimum in 8 strong innings. The Reds managed only 2 base runners, and 1 hit….a home run in the 2nd inning by Adam Dunn, the seventh of his career against Big Z. But that was it. Zambrano settled down and retired the last 20 batters he faced and received a standing ovation in the bottom of the 8th when he stepped to the plate. Zambrano responded to the sell out crowd with a single to center….the Cubs 10th and final hit of the game.
Carlos Marmol retired the first two batters he faced in the 9th before Jay Bruce reached on an infield single. Marmol then issued back-to-back walks to Jeff Keppinger and Ken Griffey, Jr. Lou Piniella brought in Kerry Wood to face Brandon Phillips with the bases loaded. Phillips fouled out to Derrek Lee to end the game.
Johnny Cueto matched Zambrano pitch for pitch until the 6th inning. The Cubs managed only an unearned run off Cueto until Aramis Ramirez hit the first pitch from Cueto into the bleachers in left center.
The Cubs added to their lead with clutch 2 out hits in the 7th inning. Reed Johnson led off with a single to right and Zambrano sacrificed him to 2nd. Johnson advanced to 3rd on a ground out by Ryan Theriot. Kosuke Fukudome drove in Johnson with the Cubs third run on a double to left. Derrek Lee followed with a single to left that plated Fukudome and Aramis Ramirez recorded his second RBI of the game with a double to center off David Weathers that plated Lee….all three runs in the 7th came with 2 outs.
Wednesday belonged to Carlos Zambrano as the Cubs won their 35th game of the year at the Friendly Confines. With the win, the Cubs won their third game in a row for the first time since completing the sweep of the Sox on June 22nd and improved to 19 games over .500. Carlos Zambrano followed his spectacular return from the DL in St. Louis with an even better outing….after a shaky start. Zambrano fell behind in the count often in the first two innings before the over aggressive Reds offense began swinging early in their at bats. Zambrano found himself in 3-ball counts to the three of the first five batters he faced, but after Dunn’s home run….Z said that was enough.
Zambrano struck out 5 and did not walk a batter in 8 innings on 103 pitches….and became the second Cubs’ pitcher to earn his 10th win of the season in as many nights.
Geovany Soto led off the 2nd with his 24th double of the season and tied Derrek Lee with the team lead. Soto is very close to a Major League record. The Cubs’ rookie catcher is two home runs shy of the All-Time record for home runs hit by a catcher before the All-Star break. Mike Piazza hit 18 with the Dodgers in 1993….hat tip to Pat Hughes and Ron Santo for the stat.
Now back to the game….Jim Edmonds struck out for the first out of the inning but Mark DeRosa hit a grounder up the middle that went off Jeff Keppinger’s glove into centerfield. Soto tied the game on the error by the Reds’ shortstop.
After Aramis Ramirez gave the Cubs’ a slim 2-1 lead in the 6th, the Cubs offense finally got to Johnny Cueto in the 7th inning. Reed Johnson started the rally with a lead off single to center. Carlos Zambrano sacrificed Johnson to 2nd (replays showed Zambrano beat Johnny Cueto’s throw….by a mile). Johnson advanced to 3rd on a ground out to 1st by Ryan Theriot and scored on a 2-out double to left by Kosuke Fukudome, that was misplayed by Adam Dunn.
Derrek Lee stepped in with his team up 3-1 and worked the count to 2-2 before singling to left and chasing Cueto from the game. Kosuke scored and Dusty Baker pulled his very talented, young right-hander. Aramis Ramirez followed with a double (on the 10th pitch of the at bat) just to the right of straight away center. Lee was running on the 3-2 pitch and scored easily from 1st base.
Lou Piniella’s crew beat Johnny Cueto for the first time and continued to play like a different team at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night.
Ted Lilly is scheduled to face Bronson Arroyo in the series finale on Thursday afternoon.