Piniella’s Spark Plug – Cubs 8 Marlins 6

Game Twenty-Two – Cubs 8 Marlins 6
WP – David Patton (1-1) LP – Burke Badenhop (1-1, BS 1) Save – Kevin Gregg (2)

wflag.jpgJust when it appeared the Cubs were about to fall two games under .500, in stepped Ryan Theriot and with one swing of the bat turned a miserable day into a solid come from behind victory for the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs have not shown much fight this season but on Friday afternoon they did. At one point they were down 5-1 but added a run in the fourth before Theriot’s first career grand slam in the sixth…only his eighth career home run.

A walk once again fueled the comeback. On Friday it was Aaron Miles’ turn and Mike Fontenot followed with a single that advanced Miles to third. Micah Hoffpauir pinch hit for David Patton and popped up to shallow left for the second out. Alfonso Soriano walked to load the bases for Ryan Theriot…who launched a 0-1 pitch from Burke Badenhop into the bleachers in left.

The Cubs tacked on a pair of runs in the seventh with RBI from Geovany Soto and Mike Fontenot.

The first four innings of Friday’s game belonged to the Marlins. The Cubs were lifeless once again at the plate and Rich Harden could not find the strike zone. Harden had a bad outing, no two ways about it. He gave up three runs in the first two innings, settled down a little in third but fell apart in the fourth.

Harden issued three straight walks with two outs in the fourth that loaded the bases and the second four-pitch walk in a row forced in the Marlins fourth run of the afternoon. Harden then hit Jorge Cantu on a 1-1 pitch that resulted in the Marlins’ fifth run…and the end of Rich Harden’s day. Jeff Samardzija bailed out Harden by retiring Dan Uggla on a fly out to left.

For the most part the Cubs’ pen did an excellent job. They kept the Marlins’ from tacking on and once the Cubs got the lead, they found a way to end the game.

David Patton picked up his first career big league win with two shutout innings of relief. Patton did walk a pair but did not give up any hits. Neal Cotts put together his best outing of the year. Cotts walked the first batter he faced but settled in and struck out two of the last three batters he faced.

With the Cubs up by three in the eighth, Carlos Marmol took the mound. For the second day in a row he walked the first two batters he faced before finding his groove. Marmol struck out the two, three and four place hitters in the Marlins order (Cameron Maybin, Jeremy Hermida and Jorge Cantu) to get out of his own jam.

Kevin Gregg gave up a run in the ninth with a little help from the Cubs’ defense. After giving up a single to Dan Uggla to start the inning, the Cubs could not turn two on a ball hit by Jeff Baker to second base. A single by Wes Helms, a wild pitch and a ground out to third by Alfredo Amezaga gave the Marlins’ their sixth run.

For a team not known for the defense, the Marlins made several fine defensive plays that took hits and runs away from the Cubs…Emilio Bonifacio robbed Aaron Miles of two hits and helped keep the Cubs off the board early on.

While the win was not pretty and the Cubs’ pitching staff, and coach, must find a way to quit walking so many batters during a game (nine more free passes on Friday, plus a hit batsman), Friday’s win was just what Lou Piniella’s crew needed.

The Cubs started the new month on a positive note after a rough start against rookie Graham Taylor…and managed only two runs on five hits with three walks in five innings off the southpaw.

Derrek Lee (2-for-4, two runs scored) led off the second with the Cubs’ first hit, a single to left. Reed Johnson (2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored) followed with a single to left…and Geovany Soto (2-for-3 with a walk and a RBI) loaded the bases with the third straight single to left.

Aaron Miles was robbed of at least a single and a couple of RBI by a leaping grab at third by Emilio Bonifacio. Mike Fontenot popped out to third and it appeared the Cubs were going to load the bases once again and come away empty.

Rich Harden stepped in and took ball one from Taylor. The Marlins’ lefty then uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Derrek Lee to score from third, 3-1 Marlins. Harden ended up walking to reload the bases…but Alfonso Soriano grounded out to second to end the inning.

Reed Johnson and Geovany Soto worked back-to-back walks to start the fourth. Aaron Miles flied out to right. Mike Fontenot fell behind 0-2 against the lefty, but singled to center on the next pitch to plate Johnson with the Cubs second run. Ron Santo shouted, “Way to go Little Babe Ruth.

Carlos Zambrano, who recorded his second career pinch-hit on Thursday, was called upon again on Friday…this time for Jeff Samardzija. Zambrano flied out to left center and the productive out advanced Soto to third. Soriano grounded out to short and another good defensive play by Amezega at short kept the Cubs from scoring.

After Theriot’s grand slam gave the Cubs a 6-5 lead, the offense went back to work in the seventh.

Derrek Lee led off with his second hit, a single to left center. Reed Johnson followed with a single to center and Soto drove in Lee with a single to left….7-5 Cubs.

Fredi Gonzalez brought in Renyel Pinto to face Aaron Miles, with runners on first and third with no outs. Bonifacio robbed Miles of a double with a diving catch. Mike Fontenot came through against another lefty with a sacrifice fly to right center…Cameron Maybin made a good diving catch to rob Fontenot of a double and another RBI.

Aramis Ramirez made his first appearance since last Friday, hit for Carlos Marmol and flied out to right to end the inning.

The Cubs improved to 11-11 on the season with the come from behind win. Following the game Lou Piniella said let’s see how they follow the win on Friday throughout the weekend. It is time to build a little momentum and win a couple of games in a row.

Ted Lilly will face Anibal Sanchez in game three of the series on Saturday…an early 12:05pm C.T. start.

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon