No Room for Error – Cubs 3 Cardinals 2

Game One Hundred Forty-Six – Cubs 3 Cardinals 2
WP – Rich Harden (10-2, 5-1) LP – Todd Wellemeyer (12-7) Save – Kerry Wood (30)

wflag.jpgWhat a ballgame! For the first time since Rich Harden last appeared on the mound, August 28th and August 29th, the Cubs put together back-to-back victories and notched their first series win since taking three from the Pirates from August 25th – August 27th. All three games of the series were decided by one run and the difference in the last game of the year in St. Louis was in the field, not at the plate. At Busch Stadium, the Cubs finished the year 5-4.

Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome turned in highlight reel catches in the 8th with the Cubs up by a 3-2 score. Soriano made a diving catch to take away a single, if not more, from Albert Pujols. With the tying and go ahead runs on with 1 out, Fukudome made a leaping catch as he crashed into the wall in right on a ball of the bat of Felipe Lopez. Carlos Marmol struck out Josh Phelps with the bases loaded to end the inning.

The 9th inning was a typical end of a Cubs-Cardinals game. Kerry Wood gave up a lead off double to pinch hitter Brendan Ryan. Cesar Izturis tried to sacrifice the tying run to 3rd but bunted the ball to hard to Derrek Lee. Lee threw a strike to Aramis Ramirez but he could not get the tag down. Ryan was called safe….but he slid past the bag, Ramirez stayed with the play and tagged out Ryan for the first out of the inning.

Skip Schumaker followed with a bloop single to left. With runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out, Wood struck out Aaron Miles swinging on three pitches. Albert Pujols stepped to the plate with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th with the winning run on 1st base.

Wood quickly fell behind Albert Pujols 2-0 then received a questionable call for strike one on an inside pitch. Pujols fouled off the next pitch then popped up to Mark DeRosa in shallow right center to end the game for his 30th save of the season. Game over, CUBS WIN!

Rich Harden pitched another very good game and picked up his 5th win as a Cub. Harden tossed 5 innings of shutout ball before giving up a pair in the 6th after a walk to Aaron Miles, a double by Albert Pujols and a 2-out RBI by Felipe Lopez. Harden struck out 3 on 86 pitches.

The offense sputtered against Cardinals pitching and managed only 7 hits on the night. The Cubs scored 2 runs in the 5th on 3 walks and an error by Albert Pujols and tacked on the third run after consecutive doubles in the 6th by Mark DeRosa and Mike Fontenot. They left nine on base and six in the first 7 innings.

Lou Piniella’s crew picked up a huge win against their biggest rival on a night their closest pursuer lost in the City of Brotherly Love. The Cubs are back to 30 games over .500 on the season….

The Cubs might not be swinging the bat right now, but at least they brought the leather to the park on Thursday night. The Cubs defense was the difference. While Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee made game changing plays, the Cardinals defense allowed two unearned runs….and while both Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood bent a little, they made the big pitch when they needed it the most. Marmol struck out Josh Phelps and Wood induced the pop out by Albert Pujols.

With all of the drama in the last two innings of the game, Jeff Samardzija’s scoreless inning in the 7th in relief of Rich Harden kept the Cardinals from gaining momentum. The Shark worked around a lead off single by Jason LaRue and turned in his best outing of the month.

The Cubs patience paid off once again. Geovany Soto led off the 5th with a walk on the ninth pitch of the at bat after starting 0-2. Reed Johnson reached on an error by Albert Pujols but Rich Harden fouled out on a bunt attempt to Pujols for the first out of the inning. With Alfonso Soriano at the dish, Todd Wellemeyer uncorked a wild pitch. Both Soto and Johnson advanced and Soriano worked a walk to load the bases. Wellemeyer then walked Ryan Theriot on five pitches to force in Soto with the game’s first run.

Derrek Lee followed with a groundout to 3rd on the first pitch from Wellemeyer. Reed Johnson scored when Felipe Lopez threw to first to get the sure out.

Pitching and especially the defense won the game, the offense took advantage and did just enough.

The day and time of the next Cubs’ game is up in the air right now. With Hurricane Ike heading for Houston, the first two games of the weekend series have been postponed. Jason Marquis was slated to take the hill against Jack Cassel, but everything is subject to change at this point….stay tuned.

Quote of the Day

"Baseball, just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes." - Ernie Harwell
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