A Beautiful Day for The Bulldog – Cubs 5 Cardinals 2

Game Eighty-Four – Cubs 5 Cardinals 2
WP – Ted Lilly (9-6) LP – Brad Thompson (2-6) Save – Kevin Gregg (16)

wflag.jpgThe Chicago Cubs ended their three-game losing streak behind Ted Lilly’s 100th career big league victory. ‘The Bulldog‘ tossed another gem at Wrigley and proved why he will represent the Cubs in the Mid-Summer Classic next week. Lilly gave up one run on four hits in eight innings … and if his spot had not come up in the eighth would have been given an opportunity at a complete game. Lilly kept the Cardinals off balance all afternoon and did not allow the Cardinals to put multiple runners on base in his eight stellar innings of work.

Milton Bradleydrove‘ in the Cubs first run when he was hit by a Brad Thompson pitch with a 0-2 count in the first inning. Jeff Baker (2-for-3 with two RBI) followed with a two-out single to center that gave Lilly all the run support he would need on Saturday.

The Cubs tacked on a pair of runs in the fifth on an RBI fielder’s choice by Aramis Ramirez and a two-out single by Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs came up with clutch hits on Saturday with three of their five runs scoring on two-out base knocks.

Derrek Lee (1-for-3 with a double and a run scored) left the game in the sixth with neck spasms. Lee said after the game that he would be back in the lineup on Sunday … and Lou Piniella reiterated the same in his post-game press conference.

Carlos Marmol made his first appearance since July 6 and struggled a little with his command. After entering to ‘Rubberband Man‘, Marmol threw strikes and retired Colby Rasmus on a ground out to first. But after an Albert Pujols single, a Ryan Ludwick walk, a missed call at first base on a game-ending double play, a RBI single by Yadier Molina and a wild pitch, Lou Piniella brought in Kevin Gregg to close out the game. Gregg inherited a 1-0 count on Skip Schumaker with runners on second and third. The Cubs’ closer threw three strikes to end the game.

The entire roster rebounded nicely from Friday’s loss. The Cubs defense showed a lot of improvement … especially Milton Bradley and the inning ending double play turned by Ryan Theriot and Jeff Baker in the seventh.

The Cubs evened their season record at 42 wins and 42 losses and picked up an important victory against the division leading Cardinals …

Saturday afternoon at the old ballpark was a perfect day for baseball … and with the Cardinals in town it could not have been a better way to spend a Saturday in July. The Cubs put Friday behind them and Ted Lilly took care of the rest. Lilly has been Lou Piniella’s most reliable starter for a full season now (second half of 2008 and the first half of 2009).

Ted Lilly was in command all afternoon. Lilly sat down the Cardinals in order in the first after Albert Pujols flied out to the track in left. Lilly issued a two-out walk to Yadier Molina in the second but retired Jarrett Hoffpauir on a ground out to third.

After striking out the side in the third, Colby Rasmus recorded the first hit off a Lilly … and infield single to second that Jeff Baker double-clutched on. Rasmus beat the throw then advanced to second on a balk by Lilly. Angel Hernandez called the infraction but it appeared that Albert Pujols pointed it out. Pujols ended up popping out to right on a 2-2 pitch but Ryan Ludwick came through again. Ludwick doubled down the left field line past Aramis Ramirez, Rasmus scored and cut the Cubs lead to 3-1.

Lilly retired Nick Stavinoha and Yadier Molina to end the inning.

Ted Lilly went into cruise control at that point. Lilly retired the Cardinals in order in the fifth. Pujols singled in the sixth but Lilly retired Ludwick on a foul out to Milton Bradley to end the inning. Stavinoha singled to start the seventh but the slick double play turned by Ryan Theriot and Jeff Baker ended the inning. Lilly retired the Cardinals in order in the eighth … and with no one in the pen, appeared to be heading out for the ninth.

After Sam Fuld hit for Lilly in the eighth, Carlos Marmol took the mound in the ninth. Marmol threw strikes and induced a grounder to first off the bat of Colby Rasmus on a 0-2 pitch for the first out. Albert Pujols followed with a single to right on a 0-1 pitch … the ball hit the line and Bradley did a nice job of holding him to a single. After Pujols reached, Marmol lost it.

Ryan Ludwick worked a walk after Marmol fell behind early in the at bat. Chris Duncan followed and on a 0-2 pitch hit a grounder back to Marmol. Marmol turned a made a wild throw to Ryan Theriot (on the right field side of second base). Theriot did a good job catching the ball and keeping his foot on the bag. Theriot turned it but Chris Duncan was called safe. Replays showed Duncan was out at first … and the right call was made at second base.

Yadier Molina then singled to left on a ball that Ryan Theriot appeared to misjudge. With runners on first and second with two outs, Marmol’s first pitch to pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker got past Koyie Hill. The wild pitch put runners on second and third … and ended Marmol’s outing.

Lou Piniella brought in Kevin Gregg with the game on the line. Gregg threw three pitches, all for strikes, and retired Schumaker on a check swing to end the game.

Ryan Theriot started the Cubs’ three-run first inning with a one-out walk. Derrek Lee flied out to deep right for the second out but Aramis Ramirez singled to left on a 2-0 pitch. Alfonso Soriano walked to load the bases. Milton Bradley looked at two strikes from Brad Thompson before getting hit by a pitch. Theriot scored, 1-0 Cubs.

Jeff Baker made his second start as a Cub and ripped a 0-1 offering from Thompson into center. Ramirez and Soriano both scored, 3-0 Cubs. Koyie Hill grounded out to second to end the inning.

Brad Thompson sat the Cubs down in order in the second and third … and dogged a bullet in the fourth after Koyie Hill hit into a 3-6-3 double play.

Ryan Theriot singled to left with one-out in the fifth. Derrek Lee followed with a double off the ivy in left center. With runners on second and third with one out, Tony LaRussa played his infield back and it cost them a run. Aramis Ramirez grounded into a 6-3 fielder’s choice, Ryan Theriot scored the Cubs fourth run.

Alfonso Soriano followed with a single to left center on a 1-1 pitch that plated Derrek Lee with the Cubs fifth and final run.

On a picture perfect day for baseball, the Cubs picked up a much-needed win. Where would the Cubs be without Ted Lilly?

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Randy Wells and Carlos Zambrano will face Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse on Sunday’s day-night doubleheader … somewhere Ernie Banks is smiling.

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney