Game Ten – Cubs 8 Cardinals 7
WP – Aaron Heilman (2-0) LP – Chris Perez (0-1, BS 1) Save – Carlos Marmol (2)
Friday was just another typical day at the ‘office‘ for Alfonso Soriano. He looked awful in his first three at bats, struck out swinging all three times…and in his fourth, flied out to left. After a one-out walk by Aaron Miles, Alfonso Soriano hit a 1-2 pitch from Chris Perez 371 feet into the bleachers in left center. The Cubs turned a really ugly, back and forth game into a big win against their archrival after Soriano’s 2-run shot.
Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee put together solid afternoons at the plate. Lee scored a pair of runs and finished the day 2-for-5. Ramirez drove in three of the Cubs eight runs in a 3-for-4 afternoon that included a double in the fifth…his 2-out single to center in the seventh cut the Cubs deficit in half and setup the eighth for Soriano.
The Cubs offense let rookie P.J. Walters off the hook early and managed only three runs in the first two innings. Geovany Soto hit into a 6-4-3 double play that ended the first and the Cubs managed only one run after loading the bases with no outs in the second. Lou Piniella’s offense has yet to show any consistency on the young season…and on Friday afternoon it almost cost them a game.
Carlos Zambrano had another horrible start against the Cardinals at Wrigley. After cruising through the first two innings, Zambrano gave up four runs in the third…and slammed his glove to the mound in disgust after he missed a grounder up the middle off the bat of Skip Schumaker.
Zambrano loaded the bases ahead of Albert Pujols and appeared to have dodged a bullet when Pujols flied out to left. The sacrifice fly plated the Cardinals first run…but Pujols did not supply the big hit. Zambrano then let up and left a slider over the middle of the plate to Ryan Ludwick. Ludwick crushed the mistake and gave his team a one-run lead with his three-run homer.
Zambrano surrendered another long ball to Brian Barden in the sixth and Ludwick hit his second of the day off Zambrano in the seventh. Big Z on the afternoon allowed seven runs, all earned, on nine hits with seven strikeouts and three walks…and a slammed glove.
Carlos Zambrano must grow up and start pitching like the ace he is supposed to be. For the Cubs to win the division and even think about the post season, they must have a good season from Zambrano. Simply put, he cannot continue to pitch the way he has since the beginning of the second half last year.
Aaron Heilman pitched a scoreless eighth and picked up his second win of the season. After walking Colby Rasmus and hitting Albert Pujols to start the ninth, Carlos Marmol struck out Ryan Ludwick and induced a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Khalil Greene to end the game.
Lou Piniella’s crew beat the Cardinals for the first time this year in dramatic fashion…and halted their losing streak at two games. For a team that has been inconsistent, at best, through the first 10 games, to be 6-4 is an accomplishment (the Cubs were 6-4 after 10 games a year ago). It is extremely early in the year but to see them not quit and mount another comeback against an excellent Cardinals team is a good sign…
After two sub-par efforts on Wednesday and Thursday, the Cubs needed Carlos Zambrano to step up on Friday, end the losing streak and put a win on the board…basically act like the staff ace he is paid to be. Instead it was more of the immature Zambrano that gave up a lot of runs…
Lou Piniella said during his pre-game show that the strength of the Cubs’ staff is their starting rotation. He mentioned the fact he needed his starters to go deeper in games, preferably into the seventh inning. Piniella received the seven innings from Zambrano…but it was anything but a quality start.
Kosuke Fukudome walked with one out in the first inning that led to the Cubs first runs of the day. Derrek Lee reached on an infield single. Joe Thurston made a great diving stop of the grounder but Fukudome was able to beat his throw to second.
Micah Hoffpauir followed with a double to right that plated Kosuke with the Cubs first run. Aramis Ramirez blooped a single into center and Lee scored. With runners on first and third with one out, Geovany Soto grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Mike Fontenot led off the second with a single to center. Ryan Theriot followed with a single to right and Carlos Zambrano walked on four pitches to load the bases. For some reason, Soriano was being Soriano and swung at the first three pitches from P.J. Walters…and missed all three. Soriano left the bases loaded…
Kosuke Fukudome followed with a sacrifice fly that plated Fontenot with the Cubs third run off the Cardinals’ rookie. Derrek Lee struck out to end the inning.
Down 5-3, the Cubs battled back in the fifth. Derrek Lee reached on a one-out single to left. Micah Hoffpauir struck out for the second out. Aramis Ramirez doubled to left to plate Lee then Geovany Soto drove in his first run of the year with a single to right.
At the end of five complete, the game was tied at five.
After Brian Barden and Ryan Ludwick’s solo home runs off Zambrano put the Cubs in a 7-5 hole, Aramis Ramirez came through again in the seventh.
Kosuke Fukudome led off with a double to right. After a fly out by Lee and a strikeout by Hoffpauir (started the at bat with a 3-0 count before striking out), Aramis Ramirez singled to center, his second two-out RBI of the game cut the Cardinals lead to 7-6.
Alfonso Soriano gave the Cubs the lead for good in the bottom of the eighth with his fifth home run in the first 10 games.
The Cubs did not stop battling which is a good sign…and Derrek Lee’s fist pump after he caught the 27th out was more than a welcomed sight to see.
Ryan Dempster will face Kyle Lohse in game three of the series on FOX Saturday Baseball.