Game One Hundred Twenty-Seven – Cubs 11 Mets 4
WP – Ryan Dempster (8-7) LP – Bobby Parnell (3-7) Save – None
Jake Fox told Lou Piniella before the game, “I’ve got your back today skip” and the Cubs’ rookie delivered with a career day at the plate. Jake Fox broke a 4-4 tie in the fifth with his first career grand slam, on a 0-2 pitch, and for good measure added a RBI double in the seventh. Fox finished the game 2-for-4 with two runs scored, his tenth home run and five RBI … subbing for the injured Alfonso Soriano. Soriano had an MRI Saturday on his left knee that showed no damage. Soriano is expected to have a cortisone shot and miss a couple of games.
The offense picked up Ryan Dempster with an 11 run, 14 hit afternoon against Mets’ pitching. Milton Bradley had another huge day at the plate. He was 3-for-4 with a walk, a double, two runs scored and a RBI. Aramis Ramirez was not in the original lineup. After Jeff Baker took a grounder off his hand in pre-game warm-ups. Baker went to the hospital for X-rays and they revealed no broken bones in his hand. Ramirez was inserted and delivered at the plate … and in the field.
Aramis Ramirez finished his afternoon 2-for-4 with a double, a run scored and two RBI. Ramirez tied the game in the fifth with a two out RBI single to right.
Derrek Lee was the only starter that did not reach base on Saturday afternoon. Ryan Theriot (2-for-5 with a run scored), Kosuke Fukudome (2-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored) and Koyie Hill (2-for-4 with a double and a RBI) each delivered multi hit games … and Mike Fontenot drove in two of the Cubs eleven runs. The biggest at bat of the game came from Kosuke Fukudome in the fifth. Fukudome quickly fell behind Bobby Parnell 0-2 with runners on second and third with two outs. Fukudome ended up working a walk to load the bases for Jake Fox.
Seven of the Cubs eleven runs were scored with two outs … on the afternoon the Cubs were 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left four on base.
Ryan Dempster struggled with his command in the first inning … and again the fourth after the offense gave him a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third. Jeff Francoeur drove in the first two runs of the game with a double off Dempster and was in the middle of the scoring in the fourth.
Dempster loaded the bases in the fourth with no outs after a lead off single by Jeff Francoeur, a four-pitch walk to Cory Sullivan and a single to left by Fernando Tatis. A slumping Brian Schneider gave the Mets a 4-3 lead with a double to right. But the Mets ran themselves out of a bigger inning and changed the game.
Fernando Tatis stopped at third on the double by Schneider but Bradley’s throw to Ryan Theriot was a little off line and he decided to try to score. Theriot threw him out at the plate for the first out of the inning. Instead of second and third with no outs, the Mets were reduced to runner on second with one out … and Ryan Dempster settled down.
Dempster won his eighth game of the year after giving up four runs on eight hits in six innings with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Mike Fontenot made two excellent defensive plays on Saturday … one in the second and one in the fourth that changed both innings. His diving stop of a grounder off the bat of Anderson Hernandez in the fourth saved a run.
Aaron Heilman pitched two scoreless innings against his old team … and Sean Marshall sat the Metropolitans down in order in the ninth.
The Cubs improved to three games over the .500 mark with their first back-to-back win in two weeks … All of the Mets runs came in two innings on Saturday. Luis Castillo reached on a four-pitch walk in the first inning with one out. Daniel Murphy singled and Jeff Francoeur drove them both in with a double to left … for some reason Cubs’ pitchers continue to throw Jeff Francoeur fastballs.
Dempster struck out Cory Sullivan and Fernando Tatis to end the inning.
After Dempster scored the tying run in the third and the Cubs took a one-run lead, Dempster lost his command. In all fairness, Dempster scored from first on a double by Milton Bradley and appeared very winded as he touched home plate. While that should not be an excuse, it was apparent Dempster was a little fatigued in the fourth.
Jeff Francoeur (2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored) led off the fourth with a single to right. Cory Sullivan was walked on four pitches and Fernando Tatis singled to left … and loaded the bases with no outs.
The .188 hitting Brian Schneider then doubled to right on a 3-1 pitch from Dempster … Francoeur and Sullivan scored, 4-3 Mets. But Fernando Tatis tried to score after Milton Bradley’s relay throw was off the mark to Ryan Theriot. Tatis had stopped, and was thrown out at the plate.
Anderson Hernandez followed with an infield single. Mike Fontenot made a nice diving stop to keep a run from scoring. Bobby Parnell followed and sacrificed both runners into scoring position. Angel Pagan grounded out to second on the first pitch of the at bat to end the inning.
Dempster retired the Mets in order in the fifth and worked around a pair of two out singles in the sixth.
Milton Bradley started this series a perfect 6-for-6 at the plate … and was right in the middle of the action again on Saturday.
Kosuke Fukudome led off the second with a single to right. Jake Fox ran the count to 3-2, Fukudome ran and Fox grounded out to second with a productive out. Fukudome made a good read on a ball in the dirt with Fontenot at the plate, he advanced to third and scored on a ground out to second by Mike Fontenot.
Ryan Dempster walked to start the two-run third inning. After Ryan Theriot struck out, Milton Bradley doubled to right center, Dempster scored and tied the game at two. Derrek Lee flied out to the track in right center, Bradley advanced to third and scored on a double off the wall in right by Aramis Ramirez.
Ryan Theriot started the Cubs’ six-run fifth inning with a one-out single to right. Bradley then hit a rocket back up the middle that nearly took Bobby Parnell’s head with it. Derrek Lee fouled out first on a 3-2 pitch but Aramis Ramirez came through once again.
Ramirez lined Parnell’s first pitch to right, Theriot scored to tie the game at four. Kosuke Fukudome walked after starting the at bat 0-2 … bases loaded for Jake Fox.
Bobby Parnell made Fox look pretty bad on the first two pitches. Fox missed both then launched his third offering into the bleachers in left center.
Ken Takahashi, who was close to signing with the Cubs in the off-season, replaced Bobby Parnell and hit Mike Fontenot on a 1-2 pitch. Koyie Hill followed with a double off the wall in left, Fontenot scored … 9-4 Cubs.
Kosuke Fukudome reached on a one-out single to left in the seventh. Jake Fox followed with a double to right. Fukudome scored and Fox ended up at third when the throw went to the plate. Mike Fontenot drove in the final run of the day with a sacrifice fly to left center … Fox scored, 11-4 Cubs.
For the record, Jake Fox has ten home runs in 159 at bats this season.
The Cubs took care of business against the Mets … and kept the smile on Ron Santo’s face.
Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to face Nelson Figueroa on Sunday afternoon.