Game Fifty-Two – Cubs 2 Reds 1
WP – Carlos Zambrano (4-2) LP – Micah Owings (3-7) Save – Kevin Gregg (10)
Friday night in the Queen City was all about Carlos Zambrano. In his first start in eight days Carlos Zambrano earned his fourth win of the season…and the 100th of his career. Carlos Zambrano became the 21st pitcher in the history of the organization to reach the milestone in a Cubs’ uniform. Zambrano joined Ferguson Jenkins, Greg Maddux and Rick Reuschel as only the fourth pitcher to post 100 wins in a Cubs’ uniform in the last 50 years. Only three pitchers have posted more victories than Big Z since 2003…Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt and Roy Halladay.
Zambrano struggled with his command throughout the night but was effectively wild. Zambrano threw 6 2/3 shutout innings and allowed only two hits but walked five to go along with seven strikeouts. The Reds offense did not manage their first hit off Zambrano until the fifth inning.
When Carlos hits, Carlos wins and the statement held true on Friday night. Zambrano’s second home run of the year ended up being the difference in the game. Micah Owings struck out a left handed hitting Carlos Zambrano in the second inning, so when Zambrano went to the plate in the fifth he decided to hit from the other side.
A right-handed hitting Carlos Zambrano tattooed the first pitch from Micah Owings to start the fifth over the wall in right center. Zambrano’s 18th career longball gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
The Cubs offense struggled once again on Friday night. A bases loaded, two-out walk by Mike Fontenot forced in Ryan Theriot with the game’s first run. The Cubs left nine on base and finished the night 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Angel Guzman cleaned up Carlos Zambrano’s mess in the seventh by retiring Jonny Gomes on a ground out to short. Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg struggled once again and the end of the game was very reminiscent of a game earlier in the week.
Carlos Marmol walked two more batters and Alfonso Soriano misplayed a liner to left center off the bat of Brandon Phillips into a triple. Marmol gave up the Reds only run and once again struggled with his command. After Friday night, Marmol has issued 25 free passes in 26 innings.
Kevin Gregg retired the first two batters he faced but gave up a pinch-hit single to center to Ryan Hanigan on a 3-2 pitch. Jerry Hairston, Jr. worked the count to 3-2 then swung and missed at strike three in the dirt. The wild pitch got past Koyie Hill, Hairston reached and pinch runner Wilkin Castillo advanced all the way to third. Gregg missed on the first offering to Chris Dickerson before inducing a game ending pop out to Mike Fontenot.
The Cubs posted back-to-back wins on the road for the first time since May 6 and May 7 in Houston…and in the process improved to two games over .500 on the season. As many have noted, including Lou Piniella, it is never easy.
Chris Dickerson walked to start the bottom of the sixth with the Cubs up 2-0. Zambrano quickly got ahead of Brandon Phillips 0-2. Dusty Baker called for the hit and run on a 1-2 pitch. Phillips popped the ball up. Derrek Lee drifted into foul territory and ended up reaching into the stands to record the out. Zambrano alertly broke for first on the pop up. Lee threw a strike to Zambrano and doubled off Dickerson on a very close play.
At the time it was apparent Zambrano was tiring and that play, with the heart of the order due up, changed the game.
Micah Owings struggled with his command in the first inning once again. Owings issued three walks and the third forced in the Cubs first run.
Ryan Theriot reached on a one-out infield single. Kosuke Fukudome and Derrek Lee walked to load the bases. Micah Hoffpauir struck out swinging for the second out. With the bases loaded, Mike Fontenot worked the count to 3-1 before looking at ball four. Theriot scored, 1-0 Cubs.
The Cubs could not capitalize with runners in scoring position and less than two outs. In the third, Ryan Theriot stole second with Derrek Lee at the plate. Lee struck out and Hoffpauir was robbed of an extra base hit to right by Adam Rosales. Rosales made a great diving stop on a ball hit down the first base line and tossed to Owings to end the inning.
In the sixth, the Cubs put runners on first and third with one-out after singles by Derrek Lee and Mike Fontenot. Koyie Hill struck out swinging and Andres Blanco grounded out to second to end the inning….it was that kind of night.
The Cubs won for the third time this season (3-20) when they score less than four runs…and evened the season series with the Reds at two games.
Ryan Dempster will face Matt Maloney on Saturday night. The southpaw will be making his Major League debut.