Fielding the Difference – Cubs 6 Cardinals 2

Game One Hundred Eighteen – Cubs 6 Cardinals 2
WP – Ryan Dempster (13-5) LP – Chris Carpenter (0-1) Save – None

wflag.jpgSunday night under the lights at the old ballpark was a typical Cubs-Cardinals game and much closer than the final score. While Ryan Dempster threw a very good game, it was the Cubs defense and two errors by the Cardinals that was the difference in the final outcome. The Cubs first run scored after a single to right, an error by Ryan Ludwick and a lot of hustle by Aramis Ramirez. But with the score 2-0 in the 6th, an error by Adam Kennedy opened the door for the Cubs 5-run inning.

The Cubs, on the other hand, turned in highlight after highlight defensively. Jim Edmonds made a diving catch on a ball hit by Chris Carpenter in the 4th that kept two runs from scoring. Ronny Cedeno and Derrek Lee combined on a gem that kept Yadier Molina off the bases in the 6th and Kosuke Fukudome recorded the first out of the 9th with a diving catch in shallow right on a sinking liner. Mark DeRosa, Ryan Theriot and Ryan Dempster also turned in inning changing plays in the field.

Ryan Dempster became the first Cubs’ starter to record his 13th win of the season with another solid outing. Dempster tossed 6 innings of shutout ball and allowed only 1 run while he was on the mound. Dempster ran out of gas after giving up a run scoring double to Joe Mather with 2 outs in the 7th. Jeff Samardzija replaced Dempster, gave up a double to Albert Pujols that plated Mather with the Cardinals’ second run before striking out Ryan Ludwick to end the inning.

Ryan Dempster allowed 2 runs on 6 hits in 6 2/3 innings with 6 strikeouts and 3 walks….and improved to 11-2 at Wrigley this season.

The Big Three‘ had a good night at the dish. Aramis Ramirez scored a pair of runs with 2 hits and a walk in 4 trips to the plate. Derrek Lee drove in the Cubs’ second run of the game with a single to left in the 6th and later scored on the error by Adam Kennedy. Alfonso Soriano was 2-for-4 and started the 5-run 6th inning with a double. Mark DeRosa drove in a pair, including the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly and Ronny Cedeno came through with a clutch 2-out, 2-RBI double to right center in the 6th.

After spending nearly a decade beating the Cubs every time he had a chance, the difference this past weekend was Jim Edmonds. While he was 0-for-3 on Sunday night, it was his ground ball that went under the legs of Adam Kennedy and his defense kept the Cardinals from taking a 2-1 lead in the 4th.

Chris Carpenter made his third start of the year and dominated the Cubs offense for most of the game. Carpenter left in the 6th with Jim Edmonds at the plate, down 2-0 with a 1-1 count on his former teammate. Reports during the game stated he felt discomfort in his shoulder, after the game reports indicated that Carpenter suffered from a strain in his right triceps.

Lou Piniella’s crew won an important game on Sunday night against their oldest rival and in the process improved to 24 games over .500 with their 71st win of the season….

The Cubs offense was very aggressive at the plate, a game plan that has not produced many positive results this season. To say they were making it easy on Chris Carpenter would be an understatement. Carpenter faced the minimum in the 1st inning on just 5 pitches and recorded a 1-2-3 5th inning on 10 pitches. Carpenter left after throwing only 66 pitches in 5 1/3 innings….but the Cubs took advantage of the opportunities they were given.

Aramis Ramirez led off the 2nd inning with a single to right. Ramirez hustled out of the box and when he saw Ryan Ludwick bobble the ball took 2nd on the error. Jim Edmonds hit what appeared to be a home run to right center but the win knocked the ball down and Ramirez advanced to 3rd on the long, but productive out. Mark DeRosa stepped in and hit a fly to medium right, Ramirez tagged and slid head first into home with the Cubs’ first run.

Chris Carpenter kept the Cubs off the board until the 6th inning.

Alfonso Soriano led off with a double to left. He advanced to 3rd on a swinging bunt by Kosuke Fukudome (finished the 9-game homestand 3-for-28). Derrek Lee stepped in and ripped a single into left on a 2-0 pitch from Carpenter. Aramis Ramirez worked a walk and Jim Edmonds looked at strike one from Carpenter before taking his second pitch.

Chris Carpenter motioned for Yadier Molina, Tony LaRussa and the training staff went out to the mound and after a lengthy discussion, Carpenter left with what was later described as a strain in his right triceps. Ron Villone replaced Carpenter with a 1-1 count on Edmonds.

Edmonds hit Villone’s second offering to Adam Kennedy and it appeared to be a tailor made inning ending double play, but the ball went under Kennedy’s legs into right center and Lee scored the Cubs third run on the error. With runners on 1st and 3rd and 1 out, Mark DeRosa singled up the middle off of Cesar Izturis’ glove. Ramirez scored but Edmonds was thrown out at 3rd for the second out of the inning.

Geovany Soto followed with a single to left, DeRosa advanced to 3rd and both runs scored on Ronny Cedeno’s double to right center….Cedeno was thrown out at 3rd to end the inning. The Cubs scored 5 runs on 5 hits, with a little help, and it should have been more….two outs made at 3rd in a close game….those mistakes usually comes back to haunt a team, but on Sunday night it did not.

The Cardinals bullpen did not allow another hit in the final two innings.

Ryan Dempster improved to 5-2 on the season following a Cubs’ loss. Dempster pitched a very good game, as mentioned, but his defense really bailed him out of trouble.

With the Cubs up by a score of 1-0, Dempster walked Troy Glaus on 4 pitches with 1 out in the 4th. Tony LaRussa called for the hit and run and Yadier Molina executed it to perfection. He singled to right and advanced Glaus to 3rd. Dempster struck out Adam Kennedy with the tying run on 3rd and battled Chris Carpenter for the second time on the night. Dempster struck out Carpenter on the 10th pitch of the at bat in 2nd and in the 4th, Dempster got ahead of Carpenter 1-2 but two pitches later, Carpenter hit what appeared to be a sinking liner into shallow left center. Jim Edmonds made a diving catch (Vintage Jim Edmonds) to end the inning as Dempster pumped his fist.

Dempster got into a little trouble in the 5th after a single by Skip Schumaker and a 1-out walk to Joe Mather. Albert Pujols popped out to Mark DeRosa and then Ryan Ludwick bounced back to the mound on a 2-2 pitch. Dempster made a good stop, fell to his kees but recovered and threw out Ludwick to end the inning.

With 1-out in the 6th, Yadier Molina hit a tapper past the mound toward Ronny Cedeno at short. Cedeno ran in, made a bare-hand pickup and threw low and off line to Derrek Lee. Lee came off the bag, picked the low throw and tagged Molina on the foot as he went by….

Kerry Wood retired the side in order in the 8th on 11 pitches, 7 for strikes and Carlos Marmol did the same in the 9th on 16 pitches.

The Cubs picked up their 5th win of the year against the Cardinals (5-4) and finished the 9-game homestand with a 6-3 record….all against the NL Central. The Cubs are 10-3 in their last 13, again all against division rivals.

Lou Piniella’s crew is off on Monday and will open a difficult 6-game road trip in Atlanta on Tuesday. The Cubs play three in Atlanta and three in Miami against a Marlins team they have not defeated in Florida since the 2005 season. Rich Harden is scheduled to face Charlie Morton in the opener.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax