Game Sixty-Four – Cubs 6 Indians 5 – 13 innings
WP – David Patton (3-1) LP – Kerry Wood (2-3, BS 4) Save – None
Entering Saturday the last three wins for the Chicago Cubs had been in walk-off fashion … and after nearly four and a half hours of baseball Lou Piniella’s crew did it again against a familiar face. Kosuke Fukudome entered the afternoon 0-for-his-last-22 and reportedly his former hitting coach from Japan is en route to Chicago. But Kosuke broke out of his slump in a big way on Saturday.
Luis Valbuena hit his second home run of the game and third of the series that gave the Indians a 5-4 lead in the top of the inning. Kerry Wood took the mound in the bottom of the inning looking to bounce back from his blown save on Friday. Kosuke Fukudome (4-for-5 with a walk and two runs scored) led off the 13th with his fourth straight hit … a single to right center on a 2-1 pitch. Koyie Hill followed and quickly got ahead 3-1. On a 3-2 pitch, Kosuke took off for second. Hill swung and missed Wood’s offering but Kelly Shoppach’s throw ended up in centerfield. Fukudome advanced to third with the tying run on the error.
Eric Wedge brought the infield in and on a 2-0 pitch, Andres Blanco’s ground ball ended up in center and Kosuke crossed the plate with the tying run. Lou Piniella then called for a hit and run on a 1-0 pitch to Aaron Miles. Miles delivered a bloop single down the left field line, Blanco slid into third with the would-be winning run.
Jake Fox stepped in and looked at ball one before ripping the next pitch from Kerry Wood foul down the left field line. Wood’s next pitch sailed way outside, hit the backstop and Blanco slid in feet first at home with the game winner. Wrigley erupted, Kerry Wood left the field disgusted and Pat Hughes screamed, “Cubs Win! Cubs Win! A Kerry Wood wild pitch! Cubs Win! The third straight miracle at Wrigley Field.”
Derrek Lee had another big day. Lee extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a 2-for-5 afternoon and tied the game at two in the fifth with his 11th longball of the year … his fourth in the last three games.
Micah Hoffpauir pinch-hit for Ted Lilly in the sixth and gave the Cubs a brief one-run lead. With the Cubs down 3-2, Kosuke Fukudome led off the sixth with a double to right … his first hit of the afternoon. Koyie Hill advanced him to third with a productive groundout to first but Andres Blanco tapped back to the mound. Lou Piniella rolled the dice and lifted Lilly after only 87 pitches. The gamble paid off when Hoffpauir launched a 3-2 pitch from Tomo Ohka into the bleachers in right.
The Cubs bullpen could not hold the lead in the seventh. Jose Ascanio issued the Cubs’ first walk of the afternoon to Chris Gimenez. Luis Valbuena, who will not want the series to be over on Sunday, singled to right and chased Ascanio from the game.
After Travis Hafner reached on a bloop single to center off Sean Marshall to load the bases with one out, Lou Piniella brought in Carlos Marmol to face Jamey Carroll. Marmol struck out Carroll for the second out but walked Jhonny Peralta to force in Gimenez with the tying run … his third blown save of the year.
Marmol struck out Victor Martinez to end the inning and the Cubs’ pen did not allow another run until the two-out homer by Luis Valbuena off of David Patton in the 13th. Aaron Heilman struggled through two scoreless innings. He walked four but struck out three and gave up only one-hit on a season-high 52 pitches.
Lou Piniella had to use Angel Guzman in the 10th and 11th after saying before the game he would not be available. Guzman, and his new glasses, responded with two perfect innings. Guzman struck out a pair and threw only 23 pitches, 17 for strikes. Kevin Gregg responded on his 31st birthday with another scoreless frame.
The Cubs pen ended up allowing two runs on four hits with seven walks and eight strikeouts in seven innings of work.
The Cubs played their seventh extra innings game of the month and improved to 5-5 on the year after their tenth extra innings contest of the season. The Cubs have won four of their last five and improved to two games over .500 at 33-31. Ted Lilly put together another fine outing and notched his tenth straight start in which he completed six innings. Lilly made only three mistakes on the afternoon and despite leaving the game down by one was still in line to pick-up his eighth win of the year … after Micah Hoffpauir’s home run.
The Indians scored the first run of the game on back-to-back doubles in the first by Jamey Carroll and Jhonny Peralta. Lilly settled down and stranded Peralta at second after he struck out Shin-Soo Choo to end the inning.
Lilly worked around a leadoff double by Ben Francisco in the second … the first three hits off Lilly were doubles. Lilly retired the Indians in order in the third and faced the minimum in the fourth.
Luis Valbuena hit his second home run of the series with one-out in the fifth. Valbuena lined a 3-1 pitch into the bleachers in right.
After Derrek Lee tied the game in the bottom of the fifth, Jhonny Peralta led off the sixth with his third home run of the season. Peralta crushed the ball and it ended up in the last row of the bleachers in left center.
Somehow, someway Aaron Heilman pitched out of a bases loaded jam with the game tied at four in the eighth. Heilman walked the bases loaded with two outs but ended up striking out Kelly Shoppach on three pitches to end the inning … his best sequence of the season.
The Cubs found another way to win on Saturday afternoon. They have built on the comeback against the Sox and appear to be playing with a lot of confidence. The Cubs still have a lot of work to do but three weeks ago, the Cubs last three wins would have been losses.
Randy Wells is slated to face Jeremy Sowers in the series finale on Sunday afternoon … Wells was the next pitcher in line if the game would have gone to the 14th inning.