Game Seventy-Seven – Cubs 2 Brewers 1 – 10 innings
WP – Kevin Gregg (3-2) LP – Mark DiFelice (4-1) Save – None
Ryan Theriot started the tenth with a one-out single off Craig Counsell’s glove into right field. On a 1-2 pitch to Derrek Lee, Mark DiFelice uncorked a wild pitch that advanced Theriot to second. Lee flied out to right and his productive out advanced Theriot to third with two outs. Ken Macha then intentionally walked Milton Bradley that put runners on first and third with two outs.
Lou Piniella went to his bench for Geovany Soto. The Brewers decided not to hold Bradley on at first and Bradley took second on the first pitch of Soto’s at bat. DiFelice then pitched around Soto before issuing an intentional walk to load the bases.
Jake Fox stepped to the plate with the game on the line. Fox was overly aggressive on DiFelice’s first pitch and swung right over the top of the ball. Fox then changed his approach, settled down and looked at three straight out of the strike zone. After getting ahead in the count 3-1, Fox fouled off the next four pitches from DiFelice before looking at the ninth pitch of the at bat. Fox walked and Theriot jogged in from third … Cubs Win!
The Cubs offense struggled all afternoon against Jeff Suppan. They managed only one run on four hits in seven innings. Carlos Zambrano drove in the Cubs’ lone run against Suppan, a single to center in the fifth. The Cubs did not make him work. Suppan walked two batters and hit two others but threw only 90 pitches (48 for strikes) in seven innings. The Cubs finished 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base.
In his return to the top spot in Lou Piniella’s lineup, Alfonso Soriano was a weak 0-for-5 and left three on base.
Carlos Zambrano pitched his way in and out of jams all afternoon. While Zambrano did not have his best stuff, he was effective and allowed one run in seven innings of work. The only run Zambrano surrendered was on a bases loaded walk to Corey Hart in the fourth. The Brewers, like the Cubs, were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base.
Aaron Heilman pitched a tremendous eighth inning. Heilman retired all three batters he faced on 16 pitches. Kevin Gregg picked up his third win of the year after his third two-inning outing of the season.
Gregg did an excellent job of pitching around Milton Bradley’s mistake in the ninth. Jason Kendall hit a routine fly to right with two outs in the ninth. Bradley lost the ball in the sun and it appeared to hit off his head. Kendall hustled to second with the go ahead run. Gregg then hit Craig Counsell and put runners on first and second ahead of Ryan Braun.
Kevin Gregg jammed Braun on a 2-2 pitch and one of the best sluggers in the game popped out to Ryan Theriot to end the inning. Gregg sat the Brewers down in order in the tenth.
The Cubs improved to a game over .500 on the season with another dramatic walk-off win at Wrigley … the Cubs sixth victory in a row at home. The Cubs found another way to win a game at home and improved to 10 games over at Wrigley Field (23-13) … for the year, Lou Piniella’s crew is 12-14 in one-run games.
Carlos Zambrano bounced back nicely from his outing against the White Sox … and even delivered a game tying single in the fifth. His single and RBI arguably kept him in the game as well, not due to his performance but his mental state. Zambrano appeared to be on the brink of ‘losing it‘ until the fifth inning … and after that he settled down.
Carlos Zambrano retired the Brewers in order in the first on three groundouts. In the second the Brewers went quietly on just eight pitches with two fly outs. Zambrano issued a leadoff walk to Corey Hart in the third and it appeared to cost him a run after J.J. Hardy squared off on a Zambrano fastball. Alfonso Soriano made a fine running catch in left center and took away an extra base hit from the Brewers’ shortstop. Hart was already around second when Soriano made the catch and would have scored easily.
After a Jeff Suppan sacrifice bunt, his tenth of the year, Jason Kendall grounded out to short to end the inning.
The Brewers finally put a run on the board in the fourth … but it could have been a lot worse. Craig Counsell led off with a single to right. Ryan Braun followed with a single to right center. With runners on first and third and no outs, Zambrano hit Prince Fielder on an inside pitch to load the bases.
Casey McGehee fouled out to Zambrano on the first pitch of the at bat. Then Mike Cameron fouled out to Derrek Lee on a 1-0 pitch. Zambrano went from bases loaded and no outs to bases loaded and two outs in three pitches.
Zambrano could not find the strike zone against Corey Hart. After throwing three straight out of the strike zone, Zambrano walked Hart on the fifth pitch of the at bat and forced in Craig Counsell with the game’s first run.
J.J. Hardy popped out to Derrek Lee on a 1-0 pitch to end the inning.
Prince Fielder walked to start the sixth inning on four pitches. Zambrano appeared to be pitching very carefully to Fielder all afternoon. Casey McGehee singled to left center on a 2-2 pitch … then Zambrano focused and recorded his first two strikeouts of the game. Zambrano mowed down Mike Cameron and Corey Hart. J.J. Hardy grounded out to Derrek Lee on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning. Zambrano dodged another big inning after a poor start.
Another game-changing outfield assist highlighted the seventh inning … and ended up being the difference in the game. Jeff Suppan led off with a single to left. Jason Kendall dropped a bunt toward Jake Fox and he bobbled the ball … Kendall was safe and the Brewers had the go ahead run in scoring position again with no outs.
Carlos Zambrano struck out the pesky Craig Counsell and Ryan Braun lined out to right on a 3-1 pitch. Prince Fielder lined a single to center on a 3-1 pitch. Kosuke Fukudome charged the ball and threw a one-hop strike to Koyie Hill. Suppan was out by a mile, well more like three steps. Zambrano pumped his fist as the inning came to an end.
The Cubs offense was stuck in neutral once again. After Sam Fuld and Ryan Theriot combined to reach six times on Thursday night, Soriano and Theriot reached only twice on Friday … both times it was Ryan Theriot.
Alfonso Soriano is beyond struggling right now and a lineup that consists of both Soriano and Milton Bradley has a lot of holes in it with the way the two players are currently performing. Soriano finished the afternoon 0-for-5 with three left on base and Milton Bradley was 1-for-3 with two walks.
Jeff Suppan hit Jake Fox on the second pitch of the fifth inning. Mike Fontenot (2-for-4 with a double) followed with a double to left. With runners on second and third and no outs, Koyie Hill grounded out to first. A right-handed hitting Carlos Zambrano followed and punched a 0-1 pitch into center. Fox scored and tied the game at one.
Alfonso Soriano popped out to Prince Fielder for the second out of the inning … and Ryan Theriot flied out to center for the third out.
The Cubs have shown improvement over the past week after a horrendous performance last Sunday on the South Side. Lou Piniella promised lineup changes on Saturday during his post-game press conference and reports suggested Alfonso Soriano will be dropped to sixth in the lineup on Saturday.
Rich Harden and a new-look Cubs’ lineup will face Braden Looper on Saturday afternoon … the 4th of July.