Game One Hundred Twenty-Nine – Cubs 9 Nationals 2
WP – Ryan Dempster (15-5) LP – Odalis Perez (5-10) Save – None
The ‘Big Three‘ stepped up and Ryan Dempster took care of the rest on Saturday afternoon at the old ballyard. After leaving 8 on base in the first 3 innings, 5 in scoring position, a 1-out walk by Alfonso Soriano led to the Cubs first run of the game. Derrek Lee drove in Soriano in the 4th before leaving in the 7th with upper back spasms….Lee is listed as day-to-day. Aramis Ramirez followed with a 3-run home run off of Odalis Perez and gave Ryan Dempster all the run support he would need.
Aramis Ramirez added his second 3-run homer in the 8th and drove in 6 of the Cubs’ 9 runs. Mark DeRosa hit his third home run in as many days in the 6th. DeRosa’s 17th of the year gave the Cubs a 6-0 lead at the time. The difference on Saturday was that the Cubs did not break from their game plan at the plate and kept tacking on runs after grabbing an early lead.
Alfonso Soriano finished the day 1-for-3 with a double, 2 walks, a run scored and a RBI. Derrek Lee was 1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a RBI and Aramis Ramirez put together one of his best games of the season….3-for-5 with 2 home runs, 6 RBIs and 2 runs scored.
Ryan Dempster tied a career high with his 15th win of the season….Dempster won 15 as a Florida Marlin in 2001 and tossed another good game when his team needed it. Dempster kept the Nationals off the board while the Cubs tried to figure out a way to score. Dempster allowed 1 run on 8 hits in 7 1/3 innings with a walk and 4 strikeouts on 111 pitches. Carlos Marmol picked up 2 outs on 4 pitches in relief of Dempster in the 8th. Marmol came in with two on and one out with the score 6-1 and ended the inning, as well as the threat, quickly. Sean Marshall mopped up in the 9th and allowed a run on 2 hits, a pinch-hit double by Aaron ‘Bleepin‘ Boone and a sacrifice fly by Emilo Bonifacio.
With the win on Saturday, Lou Piniella’s crew became the first team in the majors to post their 79th victory of the season and improved to 29 games over .500 for the third time this year with the bounce back win….. Friday was just one game but was still in the thoughts of Lou Piniella and Ryan Dempster, among others, on Saturday. The Cubs were flat and for the most part as a team, was struggling at the plate. Early on they could not drive home a run and left the bases loaded in both the 2nd and 3rd innings. With his offense struggling, Dempster just kept throwing strikes and did not help a team that proved on Friday they could score runs in bunches when given the opportunity.
In the heat of a pennant race a team must have the big guys step up and produce….in other words, do what they are paid to do. For the most part since the series in Atlanta, the ‘Big Three‘ had not produced and the offense had come from the likes of Mark DeRosa, Daryle Ward, Carlos Zambrano and Geovany Soto. But Saturday was different and while DeRosa stayed hot, Soriano, Lee and Ramirez did what they are paid to do….drive in runs.
Once again the Cubs offense was jump started by a walk, on Saturday it was Alfonso Soriano’s turn. Soriano worked a 1-out walk and advanced to 3rd on a bloop single to left center by Ryan Theriot (Theriot recorded his 49th multi-hit game, 6 shy of the club record of 55 set by Ivan DeJesus in 1979). Derrek Lee stepped in and singled to right on a 1-0 pitch from Odalis Perez. Soriano scored, 1-0 Cubs.
With runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out, Aramis Ramirez golfed a 1-2 pitch from Perez into the bleachers in left center. The liner gave the Cubs a 4-0 lead and the entire team appeared to relax and just play ball after the 21st long ball of the season off the bat of Aramis Ramirez.
Kosuke Fukudome reached on an error in the 5th by shortstop Anderson Hernandez. Ryan Dempster advanced him to 2nd with his National League leading 16th sacrifice bunt of the year (second of the day). Alfonso Soriano followed and ripped the first pitch from Odalis Perez down the 3rd base line….Fukudome scored easily with the Cubs’ 5th run. Perez departed and would earn his first career loss at Wrigley Field (3-1).
Mark DeRosa hit a no-doubter into the bleachers in left center in the 6th. His 17th gave the Cubs a 6-0 lead.
Ryan Theriot led off the 8th with an infield single of the body of Marco Estrada. The rain came and it poured for about 5 minutes while Daryle Ward was at the plate. Ward walked on 4 pitches and scored on the second 3-run homer by Aramis Ramirez….this time to right center. The 6-RBI day ran Ramirez RBI total for the season to a nice round number….90.
Saturday was a good win for the Chicago Cubs. While it may have ‘just been the Washington Nationals’, the Cubs beat a team convincingly the way they are supposed to at home.
Rich Harden is scheduled to start the finale on Sunday afternoon against Jason Bergmann. The Cubs are 2-3 against the Nationals this season and 3-2 on the current homestand with one left to play.