Game Twenty-Eight – Cubs 8 Astros 5
WP – Ted Lilly (4-2) LP – Russ Ortiz (2-1) Save – None
Ted Lilly labored through six innings on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park but still turned in a quality start, two runs on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts…and earned his fourth victory of the year. Lilly gave up two runs in the first inning on Miguel Tejada’s first home run of the season. Lilly left after six innings with his team up 4-2.
Alfonso Soriano came out of his power slump and hit two home runs on Thursday night…his first longballs since April 28 in Arizona. Soriano’s towering shot to left center in the fourth gave the Cubs a 4-2 lead, his eighth of the year. Soriano added a tape measure homer off the facade in left center in the ninth that tacked on two more and gave the Cubs a 6-2 lead. Thursday was the 23rd career multi-home run game for Alfonso Soriano.
Aramis Ramirez had a good night at the plate. He finished 3-for-4 with a RBI single in the ninth. The Cubs struggled with runners in scoring position, left nine on base and were 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position. The final score was much closer than it needed to be.
Kosuke Fukudome scored two of the Cubs first four runs with a single and a walk in five trips to the plate. Fukudome turned in the defensive play of the night that ended the bottom of the third. With two on and two out and the Cubs up 3-2, Hunter Pence hit a deep fly to left center that Kosuke was able to track down…his momentum carried him up Tal’s Hill.
Carlos Marmol proved his value to Lou Piniella once again. With the Cubs up 4-2 in the bottom of the eighth after failing to capitalize in the top of the inning, Marmol surrendered a ground rule double to Miguel Tejada…then slammed the door shut. ‘Senor Nasty‘ struck out the heart of the Astros’ lineup…Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence missed strike three and left Tejada at second base.
The eighth inning dominance by Carlos Marmol swung the momentum back to the Cubs. The offense came alive in the ninth against the Astros’ pen and tacked on four runs…which would end up being the difference.
Chad Fox made his 2009 debut and quickly turned a comfortable lead into a nail-bitter. Fox walked Jason Michaels on four pitches then served up a triple to Ivan Rodriguez. Jeff Keppinger grounded out to third, Rodriguez scored and cut the Cubs lead to 8-4.
Darin Erstad followed with a pinch-hit triple to left center that was misplayed by Joey Gathright. With the top of the Astros order coming to the plate and only one out, Piniella brought in Kevin Gregg to get the final two outs.
Kaz Matsui flied out to center on the second pitch from Gregg, Erstad tagged and scored. After a single to left by Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman worked the count to 3-2 before striking out to end the game…Carlos Lee was left in the on-deck circle.
The Cubs played anything but a perfect game, but a win is a win…and they all look the same in the left hand column. The Cubs improved to 4-1 on the season against the Astros, all in Houston, and have won six of their last seven. Lou Piniella’s crew is at the end of a difficult 20-game stretch without a day off that began back on April 21. With three games remaining, they are 9-8 after starting the series of games 3-6.
The game started off on a negative note that Micah Hoffpauir was able to salvage. Ryan Theriot worked a one-out walk against Russ Ortiz. Kosuke Fukudome singled him to third but Theriot wandered to far off the bag and was thrown out by Ivan Rodriguez for the second out of the inning.
Aramis Ramirez ended up walking and with runners on first and second with two out, Micah Hoffpauir singled to center and drove in Kosuke with the first run of the game.
After Ted Lilly struggled through the bottom of the first and served up the two-run homer to Miguel Tejada, the Cubs tied the game…and took the lead in the third.
Ryan Theriot started the rally with a bloop single to center. Kosuke Fukudome walked and Aramis Ramirez singled to left to load the bases. Micah Hoffpauir fouled out to Jeff Keppinger at third but Milton Bradley singled to right on a 2-2 pitch from Ortiz to tie the game.
With the bases still loaded, Mike Fontenot hit a sacrifice fly to center…Kosuke Fukudome scored with the eventual winning run.
The Cubs swept the two-game series on getaway night…and they need to play better than they did on Thursday against a very talented and confident Brewers team at Miller Park over the weekend
Randy Wells will make is first career big league start on Friday night against Dave Bush and the Brewers.