Game One Hundred Twenty-Four – Cubs 9 Nationals 4
WP – Angel Guzman (3-3) LP – Jason Bergmann (2-3) Save – None
The Cubs did just enough in the first seven innings Wednesday night then pulled away late to pick up the win against the Washington Nationals. The final score does not indicate how close the game was for the first seven and a half innings. Milton Bradley drove in the Cubs’ first three runs, including the eventual game winner in the seventh that gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead. Bradley gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead in the third with his 11th home run of the season … a two-run shot off of Livan Hernandez. Bradley’s third RBI came on a fielder’s choice with one out in the seventh that plated a hustling Koyie Hill.
The Cubs blew the game open with six runs in the eighth inning. Koyie Hill (3-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and two RBI) doubled to right with one-out in the eighth and plated Kosuke Fukudome and Jeff Baker.
With the Cubs up 5-2, Mike Fontenot notched his second pinch hit of the year (2-for-15), a double to right that was misplayed by Elijah Dukes. Ryan Theriot and Milton Bradley walked ahead of a two-run double by Derrek Lee and a RBI infield single by Aramis Ramirez.
Rich Harden was solid once again. Harden struggled with his command in the first inning, loaded the bases with no outs but allowed only one run to score. Harden left after six innings and another quality start … two runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Harden lowered his season ERA to just under four, 3.99.
Angel Guzman picked up the win after throwing a perfect seventh … and John Grabow did his in the eighth. Grabow has not allowed a run since being traded to the Cubs.
Carlos Marmol struggled mightily with his command in the ninth. With the Cubs up by just one at the beginning of the eighth, Lou Piniella had Marmol warming up and brought him in for the ninth. Marmol walked the bases loaded to start the inning, gave up a sacrifice fly to Wil Nieves and a run scoring double to Willie Harris. Marmol threw 33 pitches in the ninth inning, 17 for strikes.
The Cubs avoided the .500 mark once again with their fifth win of the year against the Washington Nationals … The Cubs offense struggled once again with Livan Hernandez. The crafty veteran held the Cubs to just two runs (the two-run homer by Milton Bradley) on five hits in six innings of work. The Cubs managed just two walks and struck out six times against Hernandez.
Koyie Hill recorded the Cubs’ first hit to start the third … a single to right. Rich Harden tried to sacrifice him to second but he bunted the ball too hard and Hernandez threw out Hill at second. Ryan Theriot flied out to right and with two outs, Milton Bradley stepped to the plate.
Milton Bradley ripped a 2-1 pitch from Livan Hernandez down the right field line … the Cubs’ second hit of the game gave them a 2-1 lead.
The Nationals tied the game at two in the fifth. Wil Nieves led off with a single to center. Hernandez sacrificed him to second. Willie Harris struck out. Following a wild pitch that advanced Nieves to third, Cristian Guzman singled to center on a 3-2 pitch from Harden, Nieves scored the Nationals second run.
Koyie Hill led off the seventh with a single to right. Aaron Miles hit for Angel Guzman and sacrificed Hill into scoring position. Ryan Theriot blooped a single into left center, Hill had to hold but advanced to third on the play. Milton Bradley put the ball in play on a 2-2 pitch from Jason Bergmann.
Bradley hit a chopper toward third, Ryan Zimmerman picked the ball barehanded but his throw was wide of the plate. Hill broke with contact and scored the winning run without a slide. Derrek Lee struck out and Aramis Ramirez flied out to center to end the inning.
Up by a slim 3-2 lead, Kosuke Fukudome led off the eighth with broken bat, bloop single off southpaw Ron Villone. Jim Riggleman brought in Jorge Sosa to face Soriano … and this is where the Cubs broke the game open.
After the struggling Alfonso Soriano struck out swinging, Kosuke advanced to second on the inning’s first wild pitch. Jeff Baker reached on an infield single that was originally ruled an error on Adam Dunn. Baker hit a grounder up the first baseline, Dunn bobbled the ball but Sosa did not break in time to cover the bag. Baker reached and Fukudome advanced to third.
The second wild pitch of the inning by Sosa advanced Baker to second then Koyie Hill delivered a two-run double down the right field line. Fukudome and Baker scored, 5-2 Cubs.
Mike Fontenot doubled to right on a 0-2 offering from Sosa … his second pinch-hit of the season. Hill scored, 6-2 Cubs.
Ryan Theriot and Milton Bradley walked to load the bases for Derrek Lee. Lee became the last position player to record a hit, a two-run double off the wall in left. Fontenot and Theriot scored, 8-2 Cubs. Aramis Ramirez then drove in the Cubs’ final run of the game with an infield single to the hole at short. Bradley scored, 9-2 Cubs.
Kosuke Fukudome and Derrek Lee both doubled and ran their team lead in two-bag hits to 29 for the year.
The Cubs improved to 63-61 on the season with Wednesday night’s win.
Randy Wells is scheduled to face rookie J.D. Martin on Thursday afternoon.