Game Sixty-Five – Cubs 6 Indians 2
WP – Randy Wells (1-3) LP – Jeremy Sowers (1-5) Save – Kevin Gregg (11)
For the first time since June 9 in Houston the Cubs won a game by more than a single run. The Cubs scored all six of their runs in the first five innings with Jake Fox leading the way. Fox drove in half of the Cubs runs with a 1-for-3 afternoon that included a sacrifice fly, a double and three RBI. Geovany Soto added two RBI on the afternoon, one on his fifth longball of the year that turned out to be the game-winner.
Randy Wells was finally rewarded with his first Major League victory. Wells turned in another quality start and even led off the four-run fifth inning with a single. Wells allowed two runs, one while he was on the mound, on five hits in 6 2/3 innings with a walk and three strikeouts.
Sean Marshall did a fine job in relief but allowed an inherited run to score on a single by Travis Hafner. Jose Ascanio made the ninth inning to interesting and created a save situation for Kevin Gregg. The Cubs much-maligned closer did his job on his fourth straight day of work and retired the two batters he faced in order, with help from a great defensive play by Andres Blanco, to seal the win for Randy Wells.
Derrek Lee extended his hitting streak to 18 games with a RBI single in the fifth. Lee drove in Randy Wells with the Cubs’ third run of the game and finished the afternoon 1-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored … the 18 straight games with a hit ties a career mark set in 2005.
Milton Bradley had a big day at the plate and has quietly put together a 10-game hitting streak of his own. Bradley doubled twice, was hit by a pitch and scored a run in four trips to the plate (2-for-3).
The Cubs tied a season-high with their fourth win in a row and have posted victories in five of the last six games (5-3 on the eight-game homestand). Lou Piniella’s crew is three games over .500 (34-31) as they hit the road for a very difficult 10-game stretch. The Cubs played only eight and a half innings and won in less than dramatic fashion for the first time on the homestand. The Cubs played much-better fundamental baseball on Sunday and finished the day 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Randy Wells breathed a sigh of relief when Derrek Lee scooped the throw from Andres Blanco to end the game. Wells rebounded nicely from his outing against the Twins with a tremendous start against a team that does not struggle scoring runs.
In his first appearance in nine days, Randy Wells did not allow his third hit until a leadoff triple by Jamey Carroll in the sixth. Mark DeRosa drove in Carroll with a sacrifice fly to right and broke up the shutout on the very next pitch. Wells retired Victor Martinez and Shin-Soo Choo to end the inning.
The Indians started to mount a rally with one-out in the seventh. Luis Valbuena (6-for-12 in the series with three home runs) reached on a single to right. Chris Gimenez grounded out to third but Ben Francisco reached on a swinging bunt. Both Wells and Geovany Soto looked at the ball right out in front of the plate that allowed the Indians to put runners on first and third with two outs.
Lou Piniella made the slow walk and replaced Wells with Sean Marshall. Randy Wells left to a well-deserved standing ovation.
On a 1-1 pitch from Sean Marshall, Travis Hafner found a hole in between Derrek Lee and Andres Blanco. Valbuena scored, 6-2 Cubs. Marshall induced a ground ball off the bat of Jamey Carroll to end the inning.
Sean Marshall retired the Indians in order in the eighth. For some reason Lou Piniella took Marshall down for Micah Hoffpauir in the bottom of the inning. The gamble did not work out on Sunday and the decision made the ninth inning a little too close.
Jose Ascanio, who when he throws strikes has very good stuff and is just about unhittable, struck out Jhonny Peralta to start the inning. Luis Valbuena singled to left on a 2-2 pitch then Ascanio walked Chris Gimenez on four pitches.
Piniella brought in Kevin Gregg with runners on first and second with one out. Gregg uncorked a wild pitch on his first offering that advanced both runners. Gregg recovered from a 2-0 hole and struck out Ben Francisco looking for the second out.
Trevor Crowe pinch-hit for Jensen Lewis and worked the count to 2-2. After two foul balls, Crowe hit a grounder up the middle. Andres Blanco showed off his range once again, made a fine grab, threw off-balance and Derrek Lee scooped the ball out of the dirt … Andres Blanco is the only second baseman on the Cubs’ roster that could have made that play.
The Cubs wasted a chance to take an early lead in the first inning after Milton Bradley grounded into a 5-3 double play. Ryan Theriot doubled, stole third and was doubled off by Jhonny Peralta. Eric Wedge brought his infield in, Bradley hit a bouncer toward third that took Peralta to the bag. Peralta tagged Theriot and threw across the diamond.
Geovany Soto gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead with his fifth home run of the year in the second. Soto lined the ball into the first row of the bleachers in left … his fourth longball in his last 12 games.
Jeremy Sowers retired the Cubs in order in the third but the second time through the lineup proved to be the difference on Sunday.
Ryan Theriot walked to start the fourth and advanced to third on a double to left by Milton Bradley. Derrek Lee popped out to shallow right for the first out. The Indians intentionally walked Geovany Soto to load the bases.
Jake Fox jumped on the first pitch from Sowers and hit a liner into left. Theriot tagged and slid around Victor Martinez for the second run of the game … Mark DeRosa made a great throw and almost nailed his former teammate.
Kosuke Fukudome walked to re-load the bases then Andres Blanco flied out to right on a 0-2 pitch to end the inning.
The Cubs created a little breathing room with a four-run fifth inning. Randy Wells led off with a single to right. Alfonso Soriano bounced a ball through the hole at short. With runners on first and second, Ryan Theriot dropped down his fourth sacrifice bunt of the season.
Milton Bradley was hit on a 3-1 pitch to load the bases then Derrek Lee delivered a looping-liner into left that plated Wells … 3-0, Cubs.
With the bases loaded and one-out, Geovany Soto quickly fell behind 1-2 before working a walk and forcing in Soriano with the Cubs’ fourth run. Jake Fox then smashed a two-run double into right center that one-hopped the ivy … Fox just missed a grand slam.
After Fukudome struck out, the Indians walked Blanco to re-load the bases. Randy Wells, the tenth batter of the inning, flied out to right center to end the inning … it was a nice catch by Shin-Soo Choo that kept the Cubs from clearing the bases.
The Cubs offense managed only two hits over the last two innings.
The Cubs showed a lot of character on the homestand … and now they must figure out a way to carry over their momentum to the road.
Ryan Dempster is scheduled to face Javier Vazquez on Monday night in Atlanta. The game is the rain make-up from June 4 … both Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Theriot are expected to be out of the starting lineup with a scheduled night off by Lou Piniella.