It’s Never E-Z … Cubs Zurvive Another Wild Night in Miami – Cubs 9 Marlins 8

Game One Hundred-Two – Cubs 9 Marlins 8 – 10 innings
WP – Kevin Gregg (4-2, BS 4) LP – Leo Nunez (3-4) Save – Aaron Heilman (1)

wflag.jpgDerrek Lee to the rescue once again … The former Marlin turned an ugly night for the Chicago Cubs into a win with his 21st home run of the year leading off the 10th inning. Lee ripped a 2-0 offering from Leo Nunez into the second deck in left for the game winner.

What appeared to be a blowout in the Cubs favor early on turned into a 10-inning, four hour and 11 minute marathon … that saw both Carlos Zambrano and Aramis Ramirez leave the game with injuries. Zambrano departed after three with a stiff back and Ramirez left in the 10th after being hit by a pitch and appearing very woozy on the field.

Following the game WGN Radio reported both players were okay and Piniella indicated Ramirez might miss Sunday’s game. Due to the injury to Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano shuffled between second base and third base in the 10th inning.

The Cubs had a 6-2 lead after three and an 8-5 lead in the ninth with the Marlins down to their last strike.

The Cubs jumped out to a 6-0 lead against Burke Badenhop and knocked out the Marlins’ starter with two outs in the second inning. Aramis Ramirez drove in the first two runs of the game with a one-out double to right center. Ramirez then scored on a wild pitch and a throwing error by John Baker that gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead.

Derrek Lee (4-for-6 with a home run, two runs scored and three RBI) delivered a two-out, two-run single to left in the second. Then Aramis Ramirez (2-for-5 with a double, a run scored and three RBI) followed with a RBI single to center that gave the Cubs a commanding six run lead with their staff ace on the mound.

Carlos Zambrano struggled with his command in his three innings of work. Big Z was all over the place. He threw 27 pitches in the first inning alone, 11 for strikes, and allowed two runs, one earned, with three walks and two strikeouts … 62 pitches, 35 for strikes.

One word can describe the Cubs’ staff on Saturday night … awful. The Cubs walked nine free-swinging Marlins and Jeff Samardzija might have punched his ticket to Iowa on Tuesday. Samardzija replaced Zambrano and threw 41 pitches in 1 2/3 innings … only 18 strikes. Samardzija let the Marlins back in the game. He surrendered three runs on three hits with three walks and one strikeout.

John Grabow cleaned up Samardzija’s mess in the fifth, walked a batter in the sixth and turned the game over to Angel Guzman. Guzman did not walk a batter but gave up three hits in his 1 2/3 innings of work.

Carlos Marmol more than struggled with his command again. Marmol walked the bases loaded, hit a batter but found a way to escape. Marmol struck out Dan Uggla looking and Jeremy Hermida swinging to end the inning.

Kevin Gregg retired the first two batters he faced in the ninth. With a 8-5 lead, pinch hitter Ronny Paulino worked the count to 2-2, fouled off three pitches then launched his fifth homer of the year over the wall in left. Paulino’s two-out solo shot cut the Cubs’ lead to 8-6.

Chris Coghlan followed with a single to left. Nick Johnson completed his perfect night in his Marlins’ debut with a two-out single to right. Emilio Bonifcaio followed with a game-tying triple to center over Kosuke Fukudome’s head on a 3-2 pitch. Gregg retired Jorge Cantu on a ground out to third to end the inning.

What will be lost in the win and the injuries to Carlos Zambrano and Aramis Ramirez is the game turned in by Ryan Theriot. Theriot did not start the game, came in for Mike Fontenot as part of a double-switch in the fifth and finished the night 2-for-3 with a two-out, two-run triple in the top of the ninth … and turned in a game changing defensive play in sixth on a stolen base attempt by Nick Johnson.

The Cubs started the new month with a win and improved to 12-4 since the All-Star break … Lou Piniella’s crew have won eight of their last 10 and for the second time this season are eight games over the .500 mark.

The Cubs’ offense did their job early on. Kosuke Fukudome walked to start the game. Andres Blanco grounded into a force out but Derrek Lee blooped a single down the right field line off of Burke Badenhop. Aramis Ramirez followed with a double to right center. Andres Blanco scored easily from third and Lee all the way from first … with an ugly, but effective slide.

With Ramirez at second, Milton Bradley swung and missed a 1-0 pitch. The ball got away from John Baker on the inside offering and Ramirez broke late for third. Baker threw the ball into left and Ramirez trotted home with the Cubs’ third run.

After Carlos Zambrano escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first … Zambrano walked the bases loaded and Derrek Lee took a hit away from Jeremy Hermida on a hard hit ground ball ticketed to right off the bat, the Cubs tacked on in the second.

Mike Fontenot led off with a double to right. Koyie Hill grounded out to second but his productive out advanced Fontenot to third with one-out. With the infield in, Carlos Zambrano grounded out to short. It was the pitch before the ground out that Zambrano appeared to tweak his back on a very warm night in South Florida.

Kosuke Fukudome walked for the second time and Andres Blanco took a four-pitch walk to load the bases. Derrek Lee stepped in and ripped the first pitch from Burke Badenhop into left. Fontenot and Fukudome scored easily … 5-0 Cubs.

Aramis Ramirez then delivered a single to center on a 1-0 pitch that plated Blanco with the Cubs sixth run. Five of the first eight runs on the night for the Cubs scored on two out hits … Derrek Lee (two RBI), Aramis Ramirez (one RBI) and Ryan Theriot (two RBI).

Milton Bradley walked to reload the bases and Fredi Gonzalez lifted Badenhop for Brian Sanches.

Sanches retired Alfonso Soriano on a fly out to right to end the inning. At the time it seemed like a harmless fly out after the Cubs sent nine to the plate in the second inning.

Following the Bradley walk in the second, their fourth in two innings, the Cubs stopped taking pitches and started swinging at everything Sanches threw out at them. Sanches set a career-high with six strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings and gave his team a chance to mount a comeback … and that is what the Marlins did. The Marlins’ pen shutdown the Cubs for six innings and the Cubs did not manage another walk until Jake Fox in the eighth.

After a RBI single in the second by Chris Coghlan plated John Baker and a two-out single by Jeremy Hermida plated the injured Hanley Ramirez in the third, the Cubs 6-0 lead was cut to 6-2 before Zambrano exited. Zambrano hit Hanley Ramirez on a pitch above his left knee that forced Ramirez to leave the game in the fourth.

Jeff Samardzija replaced Zambrano in the fourth. John Baker ripped Samardzija’s first pitch for a double to right. Sanches tried to sacrifice Baker to third but bunted the ball to hard and right back to Samardzija. Baker was thrown out or the fourth could have been worse.

Samardzija struck out Coghlan for the second out. Nick Johnson followed with a double to left center on a 2-0 pitch. Fukudome made a perfect throw to Andres Blanco who threw home to try and cut down Sanches. The throw was late but Koyie Hill threw a strike to Ramirez at third to nail Johnson for the third out.

Emilio Bonifacio led off the fifth with a walk. After Jorge Cantu flied out to center, Samardzija walked Dan Uggla. Jeremy Hermida then singled to right off of Derrek Lee’s glove. Bradley’s throw was late and Uggla advanced to third on the play. Cody Ross followed with a grounder to third. Ramirez tried to turn the around the horn double play but Ross beat Fontenot’s throw, Uggla scored … 6-5 Cubs.

After a wild pitch advanced Ross into scoring position, Piniella intentionally walked John Baker then went to his pen. With the tying run on second, John Grabow replaced Samardzija and retired Ross Gload on a fly out to right.

Angel Guzman worked around a single to left by Jeremy Hermida and a misplayed ball in right by Milton Bradley that allowed Cody Ross to reach with one-out. Guzman struck out John Baker swinging on a 3-2 pitch then induced a ground out to third off the bat of pinch-hitter Wes Helms to end the inning.

Carlos Marmol took the hill in the eighth and was more than wild. Marmol walked Chris Coghlan then hit Nick Johnson on his first pitch. After three straight out of the strike zone, Emilio Bonifacio sacrificed both runners into scoring position.

The Cubs intentionally walked Jorge Cantu to load the bases. With Aaron Heilman warming up, Piniella stuck with Marmol and he responded by striking out Dan Uggla looking and Jeremy Hermida swinging … on three pitches. Marmol did not allow a run or a hit, but it was not pretty. 23 pitches, 9 for strikes.

The Cubs offense finally tacked on runs in the ninth thanks to the Marlins’ defense. Milton Bradley led off the inning with a single to center off of Renyel Pinto. Soriano lined out to second then Jeff Baker hit a tailor made 5-4-3 double play to end the inning … but Jorge Cantu threw wide of second and pulled Uggla off the bag. After Koyie Hill struck out, Ryan Theriot delivered his fourth triple of the year to left center. Bradley and Baker scored, 8-5 Cubs.

After Kevin Gregg blew his fourth save of the year, Aaron Heilman recorded the only 1-2-3 inning on the night for the Cubs’ staff. Heilman earned his first save as a Cub.

Alls well that ends well but the Cubs must throw strikes on the road. Seven pitches threw a total of 223 pitches, 119 for strikes. That is not going to win many games at the big league level.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Ryan Dempster is slated to face Ricky Nolasco on Sunday afternoon in the finale of the three-game series.

Quote of the Day

"And if I have my choice between a pennant and a triple crown, I'll take the pennant every time." - Carl Yastrzemski
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