Game One Hundred Thirty-One – Cubs 12 Pirates 3
WP – Ted Lilly (13-7) LP – Jeff Karstens (2-3) Save – None
Monday night in Pittsburgh was a total team effort led by Kosuke Fukudome, Jim Edmonds and Aramis Ramirez. The Cubs pounded out 17 hits and put the game out of reach after the 5th inning. Lou Piniella’s crew scored early and often and 10 of the 12 runs came in the first 5 innings. Jim Edmonds broke out of a 0-for-18 slump with a triple and two doubles in 5 trips to the plate. Edmonds scored the first run on a sacrifice fly by Kosuke Fukudome in the 2nd inning.
After working with Lou Piniella and Gerald Perry over the past two days Kosuke Fukudome might be breaking out of his slump. Fukudome followed his pinch-hit 2-run homer on Sunday with a 3-for-4 night in Pittsburgh that included 4 RBI’s and his 23rd double of the season. Aramis Ramirez hit his 23rd long ball of the year and his third 3-run homer in the last three games.
Ted Lilly threw a very good game and made only two mistakes in 7 innings of work. Lilly allowed 3 runs on 7 hits with 7 strikeouts and a walk. The Pirates three runs came off two swings of the bat….a solo home run by Brandon Moss in the 4th and a 2-run shot by Adam LaRoche in the 6th. Ted Lilly did help his own cause in the 5-run 5th inning with his 4th RBI of the year….a single to center on a 0-2 pitch.
Bobby Howry faced the minimum in the 8th and Kerry Wood pitched for the first time in four days. Wood shook off a little rust and retired the side in order to end the game.
All but one starter recorded a hit. Alfonso Soriano added 3 hits, scored a pair of runs and swiped 2 bases in 5 at bats. After missing Sunday at Wrigley, Derrek Lee drove in the Cubs second run of the night, scored 2 times and finished 3-for-4 with a double and a walk. The offense truly took care of business against Jeff Karstens after he shut them out at Wrigley to start the month.
With the win on Monday night, the Cubs improved to 31 games over .500 for the first time this season….the last time the Cubs were 31 over the break even point was the final day of the 1984 season. After struggling mightily on the road, the Cubs have won 11 of their last 12 away from Wrigley and for the first time since May 3rd, the Cubs are above .500 on the road for the season with a mark of 32-31…. The Cubs became the first team in the majors to notch their 81st victory of the season with an offensive explosion against a pitcher they could not plate a run against just 24 days ago.
Jim Edmonds jump-started the Cubs offense with his second triple of the year to start the 2nd inning. Kosuke Fukudome followed a batter later with a sacrifice fly to right that plated Edmonds.
After Ted Lilly flied out to right to start the 3rd, Alfonso Soriano singled to right center. With Ryan Theriot at the plate, Soriano stole 2nd and then 3rd. Theriot worked a walk and Derrek Lee stepped in and singled to left center. Soriano scored, 2-0 Cubs.
Aramis Ramirez looked at two straight out of the zone from Karstens to start the at bat. Karstens battled back with two strikes and Ramirez went down and lined a low pitch from Karstens over the short wall in left for his 23rd long ball of the season. The 3-run shot was the 38th career home run at PNC for Ramirez, 4th All-Time in the short history of the park (Brian Giles, Craig Wilson and Jason Bay).
Jim Edmonds followed with a double but was stranded at 2nd to end the inning.
The Cubs offense put the game away in the 5th and scored 5 runs on 5 hits without a home run. Ryan Theriot singled to center to start the inning. Theriot stole 2nd with Lee at the dish. Lee then lined a double off the wall in right center. Lee’s shot was held in the park by the 21′ wall in right (21′ tall in honor of Roberto Clemente) and Theriot had to hold as it appeared Jason Michaels might have a chance to catch the ball.
With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Aramis Ramirez walked but ball 4 got away from Ryan Doumit and Theriot scored the Cubs’ 6th run. Lee advanced to 3rd and scored on the second double of the night by Jim Edmonds….7-1 Cubs.
Mark DeRosa walked on 4 pitches to load the bases for Kosuke Fukudome.
Whatever Piniella and Perry said to Kosuke apparently sunk in. Fukudome worked a deep count (3-1) then singled down the left field line. Both Ramirez and Edmonds scored, 9-1 Cubs. Geovany Soto was robbed of an extra base hit by Andy LaRoche but DeRosa advanced to 3rd on the play. With runners on 1st and 3rd with 1-out, Ted Lilly singled to center on a 0-2 pitch to plate DeRosa with the Cubs’ 10th run of the night.
The offense was quiet until the 8th inning. Alfonso Soriano reached on a 1-out single and advanced to 2nd on a bloop single by Ronny Cedeno. Derrek Lee walked to load the bases. Lou Piniella sent Henry Blanco in to hit for Aramis Ramirez and he grounded out to 1st for the second out of the inning….but Soriano scored, 11-3 Cubs.
The final run of the night came in the 9th after back-to-back doubles by Mark DeRosa and Kosuke Fukudome.
The Cubs need Jim Edmonds and Kosuke Fukudome to produce down the stretch in order for the team to make the post season. For one night in Pittsburgh both players showed signs of breaking out of their recent slumps.
The Cubs won their 81st game of the year on Monday night with 31 left to play….
Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to face a rejuvenated Ian Snell in game two of the series on Tuesday night.