No Pressure….Just Baseball – Cubs 5 Cardinals 1

Game One Hundred Fifty-Four – Cubs 5 Cardinals 1
WP – Ryan Dempster (17-6) LP – Braden Looper (12-14) Save – None

wflag.jpgLou Piniella’s crew completed the home portion of their 2008 schedule with the 55th win of the year at Wrigley Field….just one short of the organization’s all-time mark of 56 set in 1933 and equaled in 1935. The Cubs’ skipper ran out a lineup more reminiscent of a Spring Training contest than the 154th game of the regular season. All of the regulars were given the afternoon off. Kosuke Fukudome and Felix Pie were the only starters on Sunday that were in the Cubs’ Opening Day lineup on the cold and rainy last day of March….in fact three of the starters on Sunday were not on the Cubs 40-man roster when the season began.

The 2008 Chicago Cubs finished with a home mark of 55-26….not bad for a team that lost their first two games of the season at Wrigley to the Milwaukee Brewers. The win on Sunday allowed this version of the Cubs to finish the regular season with only four home series losses on the year….a truly remarkable summer on the North Side of Chicago.

Ryan Dempster picked up his 17th win of the year after allowing only one run in 5 innings of work, a sacrifice fly by Albert Pujols after a Skip Shumaker single and a Ryan Ludwick double in the 1st inning. Kosuke Fukudome threw out Cesar Izturis at the plate to end the 5th and preserve the 2-1 lead for Dempster before he turned the game over to the pen.

Kosuke Fukudome had one of his better games of the second half at the plate. Fukudome was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Felix Pie scored a pair of runs with a single and a triple in four trips to the plate. Casey McGehee recorded his first big league hit and drove in two more runs….including the go ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the 4th inning. McGehee finished his day 2-for-3 with 2 RBI’s.

Jim Edmonds received a standing ovation when he stepped to the plate in the 6th to pinch hit for Jeff Samardzija. Edmonds drove in the Cubs fourth run with a sacrifice fly to left. Chad Gaudin returned and worked off a little rust in an inning of work.

The Cubs added to the new attendance record they set on Saturday….40,551 entered the gates on Sunday running the final attendance for the season to 3,300,200.

The Cubs finished season series against the Cardinals with a 9-6 record with their 94th win of the season….just two short of the 96 wins the 1984 squad posted and only four behind the 98-56 mark of the 1945 National League Champions. The Cubs first run of the game came in the 3rd inning after a lead off single to right by Kosuke Fukudome. Lou Piniella called for the hit and run and Ronny Cedeno delivered with a single to right. Fukudome ended up at 3rd and scored on a throwing error by Felipe Lopez. Micah Hoffpauir hit a grounder to the Cardinals’ second baseman, he tried to throw out Cedeno at 2nd but the throw pulled Cesar Izturis off the bag….Kosuke scored to tie the game at 1.

The Cubs took the lead for good in the 4th after a lead off triple by Felix Pie. Casey McGehee drove him in with a sacrifice fly to center for the second run. The Cardinals argued the very close play and replays showed the Cubs might have caught a break.

Mike Fontenot lead off the 6th with a walk….like so many rallies this season. Felix Pie followed with a smash into right past Albert Pujols. Pie advanced to 3rd and scored on a single to center by Casey McGehee. Koyie Hill sacrificed Fontenot and Pie to 2nd and 3rd and Piniella went to his ‘shallow‘ bench for Jim Edmonds. The Cubs’ centerfielder received a standing ovation with his former employer in the visitor’s dugout. Edmonds responded with a sacrifice fly to foul ground in left on the first pitch.

The Cubs last run came in the 7th on a wild pitch. Ronny Cedeno led off the inning with a double. After a Micah Hoffpauir walk and a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Daryle Ward, Cedeno ended up at 3rd and scored on a wild pitch by Kyle McClellan with Mike Fontenot at the plate.

What a year at Wrigley!

The Cubs start the final week of the regular season on Monday in New York against the Mets. Jason Marquis is scheduled to face Jonathon Niese in the first of four in what could be a first round playoff preview. Ron Santo will not make the trip to Shea Stadium to see his ‘favorite park ‘for the last time in a regular season series.