Game One Hundred – Cubs 12 Astros 3
WP – Kevin Hart (3-1) LP – Russ Ortiz (3-6) Save – None
It is not too often that both starting pitchers in a big league game find themselves either released of traded shortly after the 27th out is recorded … but that is exactly what happened on Thursday. Soon after Kevin Gregg struck out Kaz Matsui to end the game, the Houston Astros released Russ Ortiz, then the Cubs dealt Kevin Hart along with Jose Ascanio and Josh Harrison to the Pirates for John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny.
Kevin Hart put together a solid start and earned his third win of the year and his last as a Chicago Cub. While Randy Wells was the story on Wednesday, the offense led the way on Thursday.
For the second day in a row the Cubs put a 12-spot on the board on 13 hits with six walks. Kosuke Fukudome had one of his better games in the Major Leagues. Fukudome finished the day 3-for-3 with two walks, two runs scored and 4 RBI. Fukudome was a home run short of a cycle. Ryan Theriot drove in four runs as well and the top two hitters in Lou Piniella’s lineup were a combined 4-for-7 with two walks, two runs scored and 8 RBI.
Kosuke Fukudome drove in the game winner with his two-out single in the second. Fukudome and Theriot’s first four RBI came on two-out hits in the second inning and gave Kevin Hart a little breathing room.
Jake Fox and Milton Bradley went back-to-back in the third inning … the fourth time this season Cubs’ batters hit home runs in consecutive at bats. After plating four runs in the second inning, Kevin Hart gave back a pair in the third and the Astros cut the Cubs lead to 4-3. Fox and Bradley started the five-run third inning that helped put the game away.
Derrek Lee was the only starter that did not reach base on Thursday against the Astros … but his defensive changed the game in the second inning. Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano, Mike Fontenot, Koyie Hill and even Kevin Hart participated in the hit parade and the entire team contributed to finishing off the homestand with a commanding win against the Houston Astros.
In his last appearance at Wrigley in a Cubs’ uniform, Kevin Hart picked up his third win in a row. Hart gave up three runs, all three on home runs by Carlos Lee and Kaz Matsui. Hart surrendered a total of six hits, walked two, hit two batters and struck out four … his first career quality start. Sean Marshall, Mitch Atkins and Kevin Gregg pitched the final three innings without allowing a run.
With the 13 hits on Thursday, the Cubs improved to 12-0 in July when they collect ten or more hits. For the series, the Cubs scored a total of 34 runs and the offense has begun performing the way most thought it would back in April. With Thursday’s victory, the Cubs finished the seven-game homestand with a 6-1 record … and Lou Piniella’s crew improved to eight games over .500 for the first time this season. The Cubs won the season series against the Astros with the 12-3 thumping on Thursday. With three games left against Houston at the end of August (August 31 – September 2), the Cubs are 9-5 against the Astros this season.
Kevin Hart retired the Astros in order in the first. Carlos Lee led off the second with his second homer of the series. Lee’s 17th of the year gave the Astros a 1-0 lead. Carlos Lee has hit 19 home runs in career at Wrigley, third among active players (Adam Dunn, 23 and Albert Pujols, 20). Lee’s dinger against Hart was the 30th of his career against Cubs’ pitching.
Geoff Blum followed with a single then Kevin Hart hit Hunter Pence on a 1-1 offering. Jeff Keppinger sacrificed both runners to second and third. Humberto Quintero was hit on a 2-2 pitch to load the bases … with one out.
Russ Ortiz grounded into a 6-4-3 inning ending double play … thanks to Derrek Lee. Mike Fontenot’s throw was high, Lee caught the ball and tagged Ortiz to end the inning and preserve the 1-0 deficit.
Michael Bourn led off the third with a double to center. Kaz Matsui followed with an ugly swing that resulted in a two-run homer to right center. Matsui’ s fourth of the year cut the Cubs’ lead to 4-3 … but it ended up being their last runs of the game.
Milton Bradley led off the four-run second inning with a walk. Alfonso Soriano stepped in and doubled down the left field line. With runners on second and third with no outs, Mike Fontenot swung at the first pitch and popped out to third. Russ Ortiz intentionally walked Koyie Hill.
With the bases loaded and one-out, Kevin Hart lined out to second on the first pitch from Ortiz. Kosuke Fukudome looked at three straight out of the strike zone before taking two strikes. On a 3-2 pitch, Fukudome singled to right. Bradley and Soriano scored, 2-1 Cubs. Ryan Theriot worked the count to 3-1 then doubled down the right field line. Koyie Hill and Fukudome scored, 4-1 Cubs. Derrek Lee ended the inning with a fly out to left center.
Jake Fox led off the third with his sixth home run of the season on the first pitch from Ortiz. Milton Bradley followed with his eighth of the year, an opposite field solo shot on a 1-1 pitch.
Alfonso Soriano kept the line moving with a single to center. Mike Fontenot followed with a triple to right that plated Soriano with the Cubs’ seventh run. Koyie Hill drove in Fontenot with a sacrifice fly to center … 8-3 Cubs.
Kevin Hart helped his own cause with a single to right and scored on Fukudome’s double to left center. Hart motored all the way around from first.
Cecil Cooper lifted Ortiz following the double by Fukudome and in what could have been his last big league game, Ortiz allowed nine runs on nine hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings.
Tim Byrdak replaced Ortiz. After Theriot reached on an error by Kaz Matsui, Byrdak stuck out Derrek Lee to end the inning.
Mike Fontenot led off the fifth with his second extra base hit of the game, a double to left. Koyie Hill singled to right. After Kevin Hart struck out swinging, Fukudome walked to load the bases. Ryan Theriot delivered a sac fly to left center that plated Fontenot with the Cubs’ 10th run of the game.
Andres Blanco pinch-hit for Sean Marshall to start the seventh. After a wild pitch from Chris Sampson advanced Blanco to second, Kosuke Fukudome tripled to right center. Blanco scored, 11-3 Cubs. Ryan Theriot grounded out to second and Fukudome scored … 12-3 Cubs.
Lou Piniella’s crew beat the teams they were supposed to during the homestand, now it’s time to hit the road …
Rich Harden is slated to face Chris Volstad in the first of three against the Marlins on Friday night.