Game One Hundred Forty-Nine – Cubs 5 Brewers 4
WP – Ryan Dempster (16-6) LP – CC Sabathia (15-9, 9-1) Save – Kerry Wood (31)
Ryan Dempster beat the Milwaukee Brewers for the fourth time this season and handed CC Sabathia his first loss in the National League. Dempster set a new career high with his 16th win of the year and became the first Cubs pitcher since Ferguson Jenkins in 1971 to post 13 wins in a single season at Wrigley Field. Dempster was very strong through the first 5 innings. He struck out 7 in the first 3 innings and did not allow his second hit until the 5th inning. Dempster appeared to run out of gas in the 6th and served up a 2-run homer to Prince Fielder that ended up on Sheffield Avenue.
A day after the Cubs became the first organization in the history of baseball to follow a no-hitter with a one hitter against the same team….Ryan Dempster pitched an excellent game of his own against a desperate and dangerous team.
Carlos Marmol gave up a lead off home run to Prince Fielder in the 8th and Kerry Wood turned in another dramatic 9th inning. Wood picked up his 31st save but gave up a RBI double to Ray Durham that cut the Cubs lead to 5-4. After an infield single by Ryan Braun put Durham on 3rd with the tying run, Prince Fielder stepped in with a chance to win the game.
Wood and Fielder played good ole fashion hardball with the go ahead run on 1st base. Fielder worked the count to 3-2 on the eighth pitch of the at bat. Wood then threw one of his nastiest curveballs of the season and froze Fielder at the plate….called strike three, game over. It was Wood’s 1400th career strikeout.
The Cubs defense played a huge part in the outcome. Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Theriot turned in solid efforts but Mark DeRosa and Reed Johnson made game changing plays on diving catches in right and in left center.
‘The Big Three‘ stepped up and drove in 4 of the Cubs 5 runs and had their hand in all of the scoring. Alfonso Soriano doubled to start the game and scored the Cubs first run on a double by Derrek Lee . Aramis Ramirez drove in a pair with a double in the 3rd and Alfonso Soriano hit his 29th home run of the year in the 7th, fifth of his career off of Sabathia. Henry Blanco singled in Aramis Ramirez with 2 outs in the 8th inning and gave the Cubs a 2-run lead….and Hank White’s clutch single proved to be the difference in the game.
While the bottom of the lineup has done more than their part of late, on Tuesday night it was all about ‘The Big Three‘. Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez finished the night 7-for-12 with 4 RBI’s, 4 runs scored, a home run and 4 doubles. The Cubs offense kept tacking on….and those runs were brought to you by Geico Insurance.
In a season that has been full of firsts and since….Aramis Ramirez recorded the 300th double of his career and Alfonso Soriano notched his 600th extra base hit. Tuesday’s victory was the Cubs 52nd of the year at home, their highest win total at Wrigley since they won 56 games in 1935. The Cubs’ 91 wins this year represents just the fourth time since 1970 the Cubs have posted at least 90 wins in a single season. The last time was in 1998 (90-73), the other two….1989 (93-69) and in 1984 (96-65).
With the win, the Cubs improved to 33 games over .500 and increased their lead over the Brewers to 9 full games, 10 in the loss column. The victory also eliminated the St. Louis Cardinals from contention in the division…. On Carlos Zambrano Day, Ryan Dempster set the tone for the evening by pitching out of a jam in the 1st inning and then shutting down the Brewers offense until the 6th inning. Dempster recorded 7 of his 9 strikeouts in the first 3 innings….and in the process ran up his pitch count. Dempster recorded two shutdown innings in the 2nd and 4th but his error loaded the bases with 1-out in the 5th. Dempster recovered and induced a 5-3 double play off the bat of Mike Cameron to end the inning.
Dempster’s pitch count was rather high after 5 innings (92 pitches) and showed signs of fatigue at the start of the 6th before serving up the blast to Prince Fielder. J.J. Hardy followed Fielder with a single to center and Reed Johnson robbed Corey Hart with a diving catch in left center. Johnson fully extended to make the catch and changed the momentum of the inning. Craig Counsell followed with a single but Jason Kendall fouled out to Derrek Lee to end the inning.
Bobby Howry took the mound in the 7th and after CC Sabathia flied out to the wall in left to start the inning (and received a what-in-the-world look from Alfonso Soriano), he walked Mike Cameron on 4 pitches. Lou Piniella brought in Neal Cotts to turn around Ray Durham. Soriano made a nice running catch in shallow left to retire Durham for the second out. Lou Piniella brought in Carlos Marmol and he retired Ryan Braun on a fly out to right to end the inning.
Kerry Wood took the mound in the 9th for the first time in 5 days and after retiring Jason Kendall on a fly out to right, Mike Lamb came off the bench and reached on a single to right. Alcides Escobar pinch ran for Lamb and after Wood struck out Mike Cameron for the second out, he scored on a double to right center by Ray Durham. Ryan Braun followed with an infield single to the hole at short. Ryan Theriot made the smart play and held the ball. There was not a play at 1st and with the veteran Durham running the bases….he could have tried to score. Wood then struck out Prince Fielder looking to end the game.
The Cubs offense played a solid, fundamental game on Tuesday night….for the most part. They hit behind runners, to the opposite field and left only 7 on base. The game plan against Sabathia was successful once again and they handed the Brewers only their second loss in Sabathia’s 14 starts….the 4 runs allowed by Sabathia, the most since being traded from Indians to the Brewers.
Jason Marquis is scheduled to face Ben Sheets in game two of the series on Wednesday night.