Game One Hundred Twenty-Three – Cubs 1 Marlins 2
WP – Anibal Sanchez (2-2) LP – Sean Marshall (2-3) Save – Kevin Gregg (27)
The Cubs 9-game road winning streak as well as their current 5-game winning streak came to an end on Saturday night in South Florida. Lou Piniella’s left-handed lineup could not come up with the big hit when they needed it off of Anibal Sanchez and the Marlins pitching staff. The Cubs left a total of 13 on base in the loss including the bases loaded twice. The 9th inning magic from Friday night could not be repeated. After a 1-out walk to Ryan Theriot and the 1500th career hit by Derrek Lee, Mike Fontenot looked at a questionable third strike to end the game.
Sean Marshall put together a solid outing and made just two mistakes in 5 innings of work. Hanley Ramirez led off the bottom of the 1st with his 27th long ball of the season and after an intentional walk to Ramirez in the 5th, Cody Ross blooped a single into right that plated Jeremy Hermida with the eventual winning run. Marshall allowed 2 runs on 4 hits with 3 walks, 2 intentional, and 8 strikeouts.
The Cubs bullpen tossed 3 innings of shutout ball and gave the offense time to make another comeback. Bobby Howry threw a shutout inning in the 6th with a walk and Jeff Samardzija walked one in the 7th with a strikeout. Carlos Marmol retired the side of the order in the 8th.
The Cubs lone run came off the bat of Henry Blanco. Hank White hit his 3rd home run of the season in the 4th inning that tied the game at one.
Derrek Lee came off the bench with the bases loaded in the 7th and grounded out to the hole at short to end the inning. Aramis Ramirez made his first appearance since Thursday and grounded out to 3rd with the tying run on 3rd to end the 8th.
With the loss the Cubs slipped back to a game under .500 on the road at 30-31 for the year…. The Cubs had plenty of opportunities all night long but continued to struggle in the football stadium that is the Marlins’ home park. The patience was there and they walked 7 more times on the night to run the season total to 493 but managed only 3 hits off of Anibal Sanchez and a total of 8 on the night. The Cubs were unable to make productive outs and move the runners into scoring position with less than 2 outs. Sometimes it takes sacrifice flies to win games like the one on Saturday and the Cubs simply could not come through with the clutch 2-out hit that they seemingly have over the past two weeks….time and time again.
The only hit with runners in scoring position came in the 7th inning. Alfonso Soriano reached on a 2-out single to center off of Logan Kensing. With Ryan Theriot at the plate, Soriano stole 2nd and Theriot eventually worked a walk. Fredi Gonzalez went to his bullpen for Arthur Rhodes to face Jim Edmonds. Piniella countered with Reed Johnson to face the southpaw.
Johnson singled to center, the hard hit line drive was played on one hop by Alfredo Amezaga. Soriano made the win turn at 3rd but was held up by Mike Quade. It appeared to be the right call at the time, but Amezaga’s throw was up the 3rd base line and Soriano might have been able to tie the game….but no one will ever know.
Piniella went to his bench for Derrek Lee to replace Daryle Ward with the lefty on the mound and after a trip to the mound by the Marlins catcher and then a visit from Fredi Gonzalez, the Marlins skipper brought in the hard throwing Matt Lindstrom to face Lee.
Derrek Lee battled but on the seventh pitch of the at bat he hit a grounder to the hole at short. Hanley Ramirez made the quick throw to 2nd base to beat the sliding Reed Johnson….it was a very close play.
Sean Marshall once again proved why he should be in the Cubs’ rotation. Marshall was solid and was a hard luck loser. The Cubs offense could not pull one out on a night Piniella gave several of his regulars time off….
Ryan Dempster will try to win the series against Chris Volstad on Sunday afternoon in the football stadium.