Game Seventy-One – Cubs 7 White Sox 8
WP – Bobby Jenks (2-2) LP – Sean Marshall (3-6) Save – None
For the eleventh time this year the Cubs lost a game in their opponents last at bat. The Cubs offense battled all day and took advantage of four mistakes, three errors, by the White Sox. Saturday afternoon was a back and forth battle. Each time one side took the lead, the other would fight back and either tie it up or take a one-run lead.
Saturday added a new chapter in the history of the Crosstown Classic. It was a good game that the Cubs bullpen could not hold.
As has been the story all season with Lou Piniella’s crew, as soon as one facet of their game shows improvement another will take a step back. Saturday it was the pitching’s turn and they could not keep the Sox over the bases … and from scoring. The Sox pounded out 14 hits, scored eight times with five walks. Scott Podsednik started the game 4-for-4 with a double, a pair of singles and a game-tying home run in the fifth. Podsednik finished the game 4-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBI. The player that most had given up on tied a career-high with four hits.
Gordon Beckham was the difference late in the game. Carlos Marmol took the mound in the eighth with a one-run lead and jammed Beckham on a 1-2 pitch. Beckham blooped a single over Ryan Freel into left field. DeWayne Wise sacrificed him to second but Marmol retired Scott Podsednik on a fly out to center. Marmol got ahead of Alexei Ramirez, 0-2, before he reached out and pulled a single into left on a pitch down and out of the strike zone. Beckham scored and tied the game at seven.
Sean Marshall retired Jim Thome to start the ninth on a fly out to left. Paul Konerko then singled to left and was replaced at first by Josh Fields. A.J. Pierzynski hit a weak grounder to third and Ryan Freel threw to first for the sure out instead of trying to cut down the lead runner.
Jose Ascanio replaced Marshall and walked pinch-hitter Jayson Nix. Gordon Beckham then lined a single over Milton Bradley’s head in right center for the game-winner.
The Cubs offense scored five of their first six runs with two outs and took advantage of two errors and a balk by Mark Buehrle, his first since 2006. Ryan Theriot drove in two of the Cubs’ runs with a 2-for-4 afternoon and Alfonso Soriano drove in a pair with a double in the sixth. Soriano was 2-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored and two RBI … one of Soriano’s better games in two months. Derrek Lee added two RBI of his own and the top of the Cubs’ lineup (1-4) finished 6-for-17 with a sacrifice fly, two walks, six RBI and three runs. Andres Blanco made another case for staying with the big league club … 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI.
The Cubs hit with runners on and in scoring position on Saturday. They finished the day 4-for-12 with RISP and left eight on base. Bradley struggled once again with a 1-for-5 performance and five left on base.
The Cubs cannot get over the hump right now. Nine of their last 10 games have been decided by two runs or less and with the one-run loss on Saturday they are 11-14 in one-run games. The Cubs dropped to a game under .500 on the season (35-36) … and fell to 6-7 in Interleague Play.
In order for the Cubs to start winning more than a game at a time they will need Ryan Dempster to step up his performance. Dempster dug his team an early hole and they kept battling back on a day he did not have it.
The Sox scored single runs in the first two innings. Scott Podsednik led off the bottom of the first with a double to left. Alexei Ramirez sacrificed him to third before Jermaine Dye doubled left.
Ryan Dempster issued a two-out walk to DeWayne Wise in the second. Wise stole second and scored on a single to right by Podsednik. With Ramirez at the plate, Podsednik stole second but over-slid the bag and was tagged out by Andres Blanco to end the inning.
After the Cubs took the lead in the fifth, Ryan Dempster could not shutdown the Sox’s offense in the bottom of the inning and lost all of the momentum.
Scott Podsednik tied the game at three with a home run to right on a 2-2 pitch from Dempster. Alexei Ramirez singled to right on a 3-2 pitch but Dempster retired Dye on a foul out to Derrek Lee. Dempster then issued walk number three to Jim Thome on four pitches.
With runners on first and second and two outs, Paul Konerko was hit on the front of the helmet on a 2-2 pitch to load the bases. A.J. Pierzynski did not fail with the bases loaded two days in a row. Pierzynski lined a single into right that plated Ramirez and Thome … 5-3 bad guys.
Ryan Dempster took the mound in the sixth with a 6-5 lead … but did not throw a pitch. Piniella had both David Patton and Aaron Heilman warming up in the pen but Piniella went with the veteran … and it cost the Cubs.
DeWayne Wise reached on a one-out triple to center on a ball that appeared to be misplayed by Kosuke Fukudome. With the infield in, Heilman fell behind Podsednik 3-0. Heilman battled back but Podsednik tied the game with a single to left on a 3-2 pitch.
Heilman retired Ramirez on a foul out to Soto and Dye on a pop out to second to end the inning.
Lou Piniella ran out Aaron Heilman in the seventh with the game tied at six. Heilman walked Jim Thome to start the inning before striking out Konerko, Pierzynski and Getz swinging to end the inning.
Andres Blanco reached on an infield single and a throwing error by Gordon Beckham in the third. With Blanco at second, Alfonso Soriano flied out to left center. Ryan Theriot followed with a single to center that plated Blanco with the Cubs’ first run.
Milton Bradley put the first pitch from Mark Buehrle into play and reached on an error by Alexei Ramirez. With runners on first and second, Derrek Lee delivered a single to left that plated Theriot … and tied the game at two. With the RBI single, Derrek Lee has hit safely in 23 of his last 24 games … and for the record, Saturday was Lee’s 1600th career big league game.
Alfonso Soriano blooped a single into right to start the fifth. Ryan Theriot walked on the tenth pitch of the at bat. With Milton Bradley at the plate, Mark Buehrle committed a balk that advanced both runners ninety feet. Konerko was not covering first on a play that was in front of the southpaw.
Bradley hit a soft liner to short for the first out of the inning. Derrek Lee followed with a sacrifice fly to left center that plated Theriot with the go ahead run.
The Cubs answered the Sox three-run fifth with a three-run sixth … all with two outs. Kosuke Fukudome worked a two-out walk and Andres Blanco singled to center. Ozzie Guillen replaced Mark Buehrle with D.J. Carrasco to face Soriano … with the Sox up by two.
Alfonso Soriano delivered a double to left on a 1-2 pitch. Fukudome and Blanco scored and tied the game. Theriot then worked the count to 3-2 before singling to right and plating Soriano with another go ahead run. With Soriano on second, Bradley struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Cubs broke a 6-6 tie in the eighth on another Sox error and a very smart play by Ryan Freel. Freel reached on the second error of the game by Alexei Ramirez … a wild throw pulled Konerko off the bag. Kosuke Fukudome followed with a single to left. With runners on first and third with no outs, Guillen brought the infield in.
Andres Blanco hit a grounder to Ramirez at short. Freel got Ramirez’s attention by ‘dancing‘ back and forth on the line. Ramirez threw to first for the sure out and Freel broke for home. Freel slid in with the go ahead run and Kosuke advanced to second. Alfonso Soriano walked but Ryan Theriot struck out on a check swing … and Milton Bradley grounded out to third to end the inning. Gordon Beckham made a nice play …
After 71 games, the Cubs are playing to their record … nothing more and nothing less.
Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to face John Danks in the series finale on Sunday.