Game Twenty-Three – Cubs 6 Marlins 1
WP – Ted Lilly (3-2) LP – Anibal Sanchez (1-3) Save – None
Ted Lilly took the mound on a beautiful afternoon at Wrigley and from the first pitch of the game, looked like a man on a mission. And eight innings later, Ted Lilly left the game after pitching his best game of the year on a day the wind was blowing out.
The Cubs posted consecutive wins for the first time since they won three in a row from April 17 – April 21…and it was all about Ted Lilly. Lilly gave his skipper exactly what he needed, a dominant eight inning performance. Lilly allowed one earned run, his first of the year in three starts at Wrigley, on just five hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts on 104 pitches. His only mistake, a solo home run in the fifth by Cody Ross. Jeremy Hermida received the ‘Golden Sombrero‘ by striking out four times in four trips to the plate against the Cubs’ southpaw. Lilly’s outing also provided the beleaguered bullpen a much-needed break. Aaron Heilman was the only reliever used and he struck out the side in the ninth. Nine innings from Lilly and Heilman and no walks.
After hitting only one round-tripper last year, Ryan Theriot hit his second home run in as many days in the first inning…with Alfonso Soriano aboard. Theriot’s two-run shot to left gave the Cubs and early lead and in the process Theriot posted his second consecutive game winning RBI. Mike Fontenot added a two-out RBI in the first and Ted Lilly was staked to a nice lead.
The Cubs had a chance to break the game open in the second but came away empty after Derrek Lee struck out with runners on second and third. The offense continued to put pressure on Anibal Sanchez the next inning.
After a double play off the bat of Geovany Soto changed the third and the Cubs went from runners on first and second with no outs, to a runner on third with two outs. Fredi Gonzalez intentionally walked Aaron Miles ahead of Ted Lilly and ‘The Bulldog‘ made him pay for the decision.
Ted Lilly helped his own proverbial cause. He lined a double of the wall in right that appeared to be headed for the basket. Micah Hoffpauir and Aaron Miles scored easily on the two-out double by Lilly.
Derrek Lee added a tape measure shot in the fourth for the Cubs’ sixth and final run. Lee hit his second out of the park in left center…the longest home run of the year for the Cubs at home, the ball ended up on Waveland.
The Cubs stole three bases off of Ronny Paulino and there should have been a fourth, but Joey Gathright over slid the bag in the seventh. Micah Hoffpauir turned in a solid game defensively in right. He made a diving catch in the fourth that took a hit away from Hanley Ramirez.
The Cubs improved to a game over .500 on the season with one of their best overall efforts of the year….excellent starting pitching, timely hitting and solid defense.
Alfonso Soriano (2-for-5 with a walk and a run scored) led off the game with a single to left center. Ryan Theriot stepped in and looked at ball one from Anibal Sanchez, then launched his second home run of the season…the first time in his career he hit home runs in consecutive days, 2-0 Cubs.
Kosuke Fukudome walked and stole second when Derrek Lee was called out on strikes on a horrible call. Micah Hoffpauir popped out but Mike Fontenot singled to center. Fukudome scored, 3-0 Cubs.
Ryan Theriot followed his two-run homer with a two-out triple to right in the second. Kosuke walked and stole second with Lee at the plate. Derrek Lee worked the count to 3-2 but struck out to end the inning.
Micah Hoffpauir led off the third with a single to right. Mike Fontenot walked but the Marlins’ turned in another tremendous defensive play. Wes Helms made a diving stop on a ball hit in the hole by Soto and started a 5-4-3 double play from his knees. With Hoffpauir on third, the Marlins intentionally walked Aaron Miles.
Ted Lilly looked at ball one then lined a double of the wall in right on the next pitch, 5-0 Cubs.
Three of the Cubs’ six runs on Saturday afternoon were scored on two-out hits. That is a good sign that a struggling offense might be coming around.
Lou Piniella talked about building on Theriot’s grand slam following Friday’s win. For one day they put together arguably their best team effort of the year. Piniella mentioned in his post-game press conference on Saturday that now his team needs to build on the two wins and play more consistently for an eight to ten game stretch. Piniella said there were a lot of positives on Saturday.
Carlos Zambrano will try to give his team their third win a row on a very special Sunday. The Cubs will face Ricky Nolasco on the day Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux have their number retired.