Marquis Slams Mets….Cubs Clinch Best Record in NL – Cubs 9 Mets 5

Game One Hundred Fifty-Five – Cubs 9 Mets 5
WP – Jason Marquis (11-9) LP – Jonathon Niese (1-1) Save – Kerry Wood (33)

wflag.jpgLou Piniella’s crew returned to work on Monday night in the Big Apple and won for the 9th time in 11 games. The Cubs posted their 95th win of the year and in the process assured themselves home field advantage throughout the National League Playoffs. Jason Marquis turned in a good outing on the mound and an unbelievable evening at the plate. Marquis drove in 5 of the Cubs 9 runs and became the first Cubs’ pitcher since Kevin Tapani in 1998 to hit a Grand Slam.

Reed Johnson drove in the Cubs first two runs, the second tied the game at two then Marquis helped his own cause with the first Grand Slam of his career in the 4th. Derrek Lee tacked on his 20th home run of the year in the same inning. The Cubs sent 10 to the plate in the 4th and scored six times. Marquis added his 5th RBI with a fielder’s choice in the 5th.

Marquis held the Mets offensive to 2 runs in the first 6 innings. David Wright cut the Cubs lead to 8-4 with his 33rd of the year, a 2-run shot in the 7th that Alfonso Soriano barely missed bringing back into the park. Marquis allowed 4 runs on 8 hits in 6 2/3 innings with 4 walks and 4 strikeouts. Neal Cotts surrendered a pair of hits in relief of Marquis but closed out the 7th on a pop out to short by Ryan Church.

Jeff Samardzija was solid in an inning of work but Carlos Marmol struggled with his command in the 9th, gave up a run and walked 2 on 27 pitches….15 for strikes. Kerry Wood threw three pitches to Luis Castillo to end the game.

The Cubs pounded out 14 hits and the bottom of the lineup powered the offense once again. Ryan Theriot was a perfect 3-for-3 on the night with 2 walks and a run scored. Mark DeRosa was 3-for-4 with a double and 2 runs scored. Reed Johnson finished 2-for-2 with a run scored and 2 RBI’s….and Jason Marquis was 1-for-3 with a run scored and 5 RBI’s. Six through nine finished the game 9-for-12 with 4 runs scored, 2 walks and 7 RBI’s.

With the win the Cubs tied a season high mark of 35 games over .500 and increased their division lead to 10 1/2 games over the Brewers. While the Cubs are the Central Division Champions, the margin is the largest for a Cubs’ team since they finished the 1929 season with a 10 1/2 game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates….

The Cubs offense scored 9 runs on 14 hits (4 doubles and 2 home runs) without any production out of the top two spots in the lineup. Alfonso Soriano and Ronny Cedeno were a combined 0-for-10 while Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez finished the night 3-for-9 with 2 doubles, a home run, 2 runs scored and a walk. Lou Piniella continues to receive production from his entire lineup….and every day there are contributions from unexpected sources. Monday night it was Jason Marquis’ turn….but for some reason every time Reed Johnson is in the starting lineup, he is always in the middle of the action.

Reed Johnson came through again with a 2-out RBI single in the 2nd inning after a 2-out double by Mark DeRosa. Jason Marquis gave the run right back in the bottom of the inning and the Mets took the lead in the 3rd after a double by Jose Reyes and a double by Daniel Murphy.

With the Cubs down 2-1, Geovany Soto led off the 4th with a double to left. Mark DeRosa followed with a single to left, Soto held at 3rd. Reed Johnson then singled to center to plate Soto with the tying run….DeRosa to 2nd. Ryan Theriot singled to right to load the bases for Jason Marquis.

Marquis ripped Jonathon Niese’s first pitch over the wall in right. His first career Grand Slam gave the Cubs a 6-2 lead.

Jerry Manuel brought in Nelson Figueroa to face Alfonso Soriano. Figueroa struck out Soriano and retired Ronny Cedeno on a ground out to 1st base….but Derrek Lee stepped in and launched a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left center. 7-2 Cubs, and they never looked back.

Marquis added another RBI in the 5th on a fielder’s choice. Mark DeRosa led off with a single to left. Felix Pie grounded into a 1-6 fielder’s choice for the first out. Ryan Theriot followed with a single to right, Pie advanced to 3rd and Marquis grounded into a 5-4 force out….Theriot was forced at 2nd but Pie scored from 3rd with the Cubs’ 8th run.

Aramis Ramirez recorded his 44th double of the season (second of the game) with 1-out in the 9th. After Koyie Hill grounded out to 1st to advance Ramirez to 3rd, Daryle Ward walked and Felix Pie reached on an infield single to the hole at 2nd….Aramis Ramirez scored with the Cubs’ 9th and final run.

Jason Marquis might have pitched his way onto the post-season roster on Monday night, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Chad Gaudin’s back. Marquis threw strikes for the most part and was able to induce two groundballs that resulted in two big double plays with the game still in question. One of the storylines over the next week will be Jason Marquis. He has pitched only one game out of the bullpen as a Cub (the final game of the 2007 season in Cincinnati). Marquis was shelled….4 runs on 4 hits in 2/3 of an innings and that performance might have an impact on Lou Piniella’s decision.

Ron Santo should be smiling….his beloved Cubs beat the Mets.

Sean Marshall is scheduled to face Johan Santana on Tuesday night. Rich Harden was penciled in but has been bumped as Lou Piniella has begun to set his rotation for the post-season.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax