Game One Hundred Twenty-Four – Cubs 9 Marlins 2
WP – Ryan Dempster (14-5) LP – Renyel Pinto (2-5, BS 2) Save – None
Lou Piniella’s crew completed the 6-game road trip to Atlanta and Miami with a 5-1 record after a big victory behind Ryan Dempster. Dempster picked up his team leading 14th win, one off his career high, with a quality start after pitching out of trouble in the 6th inning. Dempster and Chris Volstad were locked in a pitcher’s duel through the first 6 innings of the game. The Cubs’ offense struggled once again early on and left 5 in scoring position and 6 on base in the first 4 innings….it looked like a carbon copy from Saturday night.
With the score 1-0 going into the bottom of the 6th, Dempster issued his first walk of the game to Hanley Ramirez to start the inning. Luis Gonzalez doubled in Ramirez with the Marlins second run and after a single by Jorge Cantu, the Marlins had runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs.
Dempster reached back and struck out both Mike Jacobs and Dan Uggla swinging. After appearing to pitch around Jeremy Hermida, Dempster issued ball four intentionally to load the bases. On the first pitch from Dempster, Cody Ross flied out to center for the third out of the inning….the turning point in the game, Dempster kept the Marlins from tacking on to what appeared to be a huge lead at the time.
Mike Fontenot started the Cubs 36th comeback win of the season with a double to right. Reed Johnson (4-for-5 with 2 doubles, 3 RBI’s and a run scored) blooped a single to center. Mark DeRosa pinch hit for the announced Jim Edmonds and walked to load the bases….with no outs.
Fredi Gonzalez left former Cub farm hand Renyel Pinto in to face Alfonso Soriano and he came through with a double to left. Luis Gonzalez could not catch Soriano’s sinking liner and the ball rolled all the way to the wall….Fontenot and Johnson scored to tie the game. After a ground out by Ryan Theriot and a break, the Marlins intentionally walked Derrek Lee to load the bases for Aramis Ramirez.
Aramis Ramirez, making his first start since Thursday in Atlanta, doubled past a diving Jorge Cantu at 3rd base….DeRosa and Soriano scored. Kosuke Fukudome followed with a sacrifice fly to center that plated Derrek Lee with the Cubs’ fifth run. After a intentional walk to Geovany Soto and an unintentional walk by pinch hitter Ronny Cedeno, Reed Johnson stepped back in for the second time in the inning.
Reed Johnson cleared the bases with a double to left center on a 1-2 pitch from Logan Kensing.
The Cubs sent 12 to the plate in the 7th, scored 8 runs on 5 hits with 4 doubles, a single and 4 walks….two intentional.
The Cubs evened their road record once again at 31-31 with one of the best road trips of the season. After not posting a win in South Florida in over three years and starting the season series 0-for-their-last-10 against the Marlins, the Cubs finished the season series with a 4-3 record against the Fish…. Ryan Dempster has been one of the biggest surprises of this season for the Cubs. He has outperformed all expectations and for the second time in a week picked up a big win for his team. Dempster’s performance will be lost in the 8-run 7th inning but he appeared to be in control from his first pitch of the game. Dempster did give up a pair but both runs the Marlins scored were off of misplayed balls in the spacious outfield in the converted football stadium.
Dempster completed 6 innings of work, allowed 2 runs on 5 hits with 10 strikeouts and 2 walks (one intentional) on 96 pitches. His low pitch counts in the first 5 innings allowed him to stay on the mound and have enough to get out of the jam in the 6th. Dempster threw 8 in the 1st, 10 in the 2nd, 20 in the 3rd, 9 in the 4th, 22 in the 5th and 27 in the 6th. Dempster turned the game over to the bullpen and for the third straight game, Piniella’s pen shutout the Marlins’ offense. Neal Cotts tossed 1 2/3 innings, allowing only 1 hit with 2 strikeouts. Jeff Samardzija struck out the only batter he faced and Carlos Marmol worked around a 2-out walk and lack of focus in the 9th. The Cubs’ staff struck out a total of 13 batters on Sunday afternoon but 8 were Mike Jacobs and Dan Uggla. The Marlins’ sluggers were a combined 0-for-8 with 8 strikeouts….all swinging.
After a 22-minute weather delayed the start of the game, the Cubs’ offense was very patient against Chris Volstad but could not put any runs on the board. They walked two times in the 1st inning and made Volstad throw 29 pitches. The patience continued in the 2nd inning but after putting the first two on, Reed Johnson could not advance the runners and after a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Dempster, Alfonso Soriano struck out to end the inning….after two full innings, the Cubs left 4 on base, 3 in scoring position.
Ryan Theriot ran the Cubs out of the inning in the 3rd and the only hit they had until the 7th came on a 2-out double by Reed Johnson in the 4th.
The 7th inning was a good mixture of timely hits, great patience and two assists from the Marlins’ defense. Mike Fontenot doubled to right to start the inning on a 3-1 pitch from Volstad and Reed Johnson advanced him to 3rd on a bloop single to center that fell out of the reach of the diving Cody Ross in center.
After Jim Edmonds was announced for Ryan Dempster, Fredi Gonzalez went to his pen for southpaw Renyel Pinto. Lou Piniella countered with Mark DeRosa and it paid off. DeRosa worked the count to 3-2 before walking to load the bases. Alfonso Soriano was 0-for-4 lifetime against Pinto and he displayed a lot of patience at the plate. Soriano got ahead 2-1 before swinging and missing at strike two. Soriano then hit the next pitch into left. Luis Gonzalez tried to make a sliding catch on the sinking liner, missed and the ball rolled to the wall. Fontenot and Johnson scored to tie the game.
Pinto robbed Ryan Theriot of a hit up the middle but also gave the Cubs a break. Pinto fielded the comeback to the mound, looked at 3rd but did not throw the ball and opted to get the sure out at 1st. DeRosa appeared to be in no man’s land as he was breaking on the pitch.
With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Pinto intentionally walked Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez made them pay. Ramirez doubled down the 3rd base line past a diving Jorge Cantu. DeRosa and Soriano scored easily to give the Cubs the lead….Ramirez came through again with the big RBI’s.
Kosuke Fukudome lined out to center but Lee tagged and scored without a slide. Gonzalez intentionally walked Geovany Soto and Piniella went to his bench for Ronny Cedeno to face Pinto. Gonzalez countered and went to his pen for Logan Kensing but Ronny Cedeno was very patient and worked a walk to load the bases. Reed Johnson cleared them with a double to left center….8-2 Cubs.
The final run came in the 9th after a 1-out pinch-hit double by Henry Blanco. Reed Johnson singled to left and Mark DeRosa flied out to right center….DeRosa’s sac fly plated Hank White with the Cubs 9th run of the game.
Six of the Cubs’ twelve hits on the afternoon were doubles to go along with 8 more walks and the Cubs plated 9 runs without a home run.
The Cubs pulled one out on Sunday afternoon that appeared to be slipping away early.
The Cubs have a scheduled off day on Monday before opening an important 6-game homestand at Wrigley with the first of three against the Reds on Tuesday night. The Cubs play nine straight games versus teams with records under .500 and must take advantage of the upcoming schedule. With 38 games remaining, 19 are at home and 19 are on the road and 26 of the final 38 are against teams with a winning record and in the playoff hunt. Rich Harden is scheduled to face Johnny Cueto in the opener.