Game One Hundred Forty-Five – Cubs 4 Cardinals 3
WP – Ted Lilly (14-9) LP – Braden Looper (12-12) Save – Kerry Wood (29)
Lou Piniella’s crew picked up a much-needed win on Wednesday night behind a tremendous effort behind Ted Lilly….but not without a little drama in the 9th inning. Ted Lilly put together one of his best outings of the season and set the tone when he ran over Yadier Molina in the 2nd inning. Lilly allowed only 1 run on 5 hits in 8 innings with 5 strikeouts and no walks. The biggest stat, the Cardinals put the leadoff runner on only twice in eight innings….and one was erased on a double play. Lilly did not allow a hit after a 4th inning single by Josh Phelps.
The Cubs offense scored all of their runs in the 2nd inning and took advantage of two errors by Felipe Lopez. Felix Pie drove in the Cubs’ first run with a single to left after back-to-back singles by Kosuke Fukudome and Mark DeRosa to start the inning. Ted Lilly attempted his first sacrifice bunt of the night but Lopez tried to tag the sliding DeRosa instead of just stepping on the base.
Alfonso Soriano stepped in with the bases loaded and hit a smash to 3rd that was stopped by Lopez but his throw ended up in right center. Two runs scored on the error and Aramis Ramirez drove in the Cubs fourth run with a 2-out bloop single to left.
The turning point in the game came in the 3rd inning. Cesar Izturis and Felipe Lopez reached on consecutive 2 out singles and brought Albert Pujols to the plate with a chance in a 4-1 game. Pujols lined a 1-2 pitch from Lilly into left and Alfonso Soriano threw a one-hop strike to Geovany Soto to cut down Izturis at the plate.
Kerry Wood took the mound in the 9th after posting a loss in his last two appearances. Wood struck out Felipe Lopez swinging on a ball in the dirt but Albert Pujols ripped his second pitch into right center for the first extra base hit of the game. Ryan Ludwick followed with his 33rd home run of the season to right center that cut the Cubs lead to 4-3. Wood settled down and struck out Aaron Miles looking and Josh Phelps on a fly out to center to end the game. Ron Santo screamed ‘THANK YOU, THANK YOU‘ as Pat Hughes declared the Cubs the winner.
The Cubs offense did just enough and was very opportunistic. All 4 runs came in the 2nd inning and they did not record a hit after the 4th inning….all eight hits for the Cubs on the night were singles.
Wednesday night’s win was the Cubs second of the month….and maybe the one that will get them back on track. One game does not equal a slump buster and the Cubs have a lot of work to do. A victory was what the entire team needed….as Lou Piniella said on Tuesday night, PERIOD.
A bulk of the credit for Wednesday must go to Ted Lilly. Not only was Lilly effective but was efficient. He threw only 90 pitches in 8 strong innings and the only mistake he made came in the 1st inning with the Cubs’ second balk in as many games….and innings.
Cesar Izturis led off the bottom of the 1st with a bloop single to right center. With Felipe Lopez at the plate, Lilly saw Izturis break for 2nd and tried to pick him off. A balk was called and Izturis was given 2nd base. Lopez followed with a fly out to right center, Izturis tagged and advanced to 3rd with 1 out. Albert Pujols grounded out to short on Lilly’s first pitch to drive in Izturis with the game’s first run.
The 4-run 2nd inning had a very familiar feel….it looked like the Cubs, and not the team that has been on the field for the previous 7 games of the month.
Kosuke Fukudome led off with a seeing-eye single to center. Mark DeRosa followed with a single to center and Fukudome advanced to 3rd. Felix Pie stepped in and drove in his 8th run of the year with a single to left. Ted Lilly attempted to sacrifice both runners into scoring position. Yadier Molina picked up the bunt attempt and threw to 3rd. Lopez forgot it was a force out and got into position to make the tag. DeRosa slid in safe to load the bases for Alfonso Soriano.
Soriano hit a 0-1 pitch toward the hole at short. Felipe Lopez made a very good diving stop of the smash….then threw the ball away. Lopez threw wide of Adam Kennedy, the ball ended up in right center and both DeRosa and Pie scored on the play.
With runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs, Ryan Theriot bounced out to 3rd. Derrek Lee followed with a grounder to short, Izturis threw home and Ted Lilly was out without a slide….but he bowled over Yadier Molina and injured the Cardinals’ catcher. It was a clean play and Molina left before the 5th inning with a left thigh bruise.
Aramis Ramirez stepped in with 2 outs and came through with a single to left. Soriano scored the Cubs fourth and final run.
After the Ramirez single….the Cubs managed only 3 walks and 2 sacrifice bunts by Ted Lilly.
A win is a win, time to string together two in a row.
Rich Harden is scheduled to make his first start since August 29th in the final game of the year in St. Louis on Thursday night against Todd Wellemeyer.