Jeff Baker … The Difference Maker – Cubs 3 Pirates 1

Game One Hundred-Fifteen – Cubs 3 Pirates 1
WP – Tom Gorzelanny (5-2) LP – Zach Duke (9-11) Save – Kevin Gregg (23)

wflag.jpgTom Gorzelanny improved to 2-1 in a Cubs’ uniform with a solid outing against his former team. Gorzelanny qualified for the win but left after five innings. Lou Piniella indicated Gorzelanny was not able to get his work in during the week due to the injury he suffered in Colorado and they wanted to shorten him up. Gorzelanny threw the ball well, except for one inning and the Pirates offense took advantage of two walks and a Gorzelanny miscue. The former Pirate gave up just one run on three hits in five innings with three walks and eight strikeouts.

Tom Gorzelanny even got into the act offensively. While Zach Duke kept the Cubs in check most of the afternoon he could not retire his former staff mate in the second inning. Gorzelanny lined Duke’s first pitch into center with two outs in the bottom of the second. Gorzelanny’s second RBI as a Cub plated Geovany Soto.

Jeff Baker drove in a pair of runs hitting out of the fifth spot in Lou Piniella’s lineup. Baker came through with a two-out single in the first after a controversial call allowed him to bat with runners on second and third. Baker then gave the Cubs a little breathing room in the sixth with a solo home run to left center. Baker’s second longball as a Cub gave his team a 3-1 lead. Baker also made a fine defensive play covering first on a bunt attempt by Zach Duke in the fifth. Baker stopped Gorzelanny’s throw from going down the right field line and allowing at least one run to score.

Aramis Ramirez made his first appearance in a week in the eighth inning. Ramirez single to left center, the Cubs ninth hit off of Zach Duke. Ramirez is expected back in the starting lineup on Sunday afternoon.

The Cubs’ pen, led by Angel Guzman, worked four innings of scoreless ball in relief of Tom Gorzelanny. Guzman was dominant. He retired the side in the sixth on just nine pitches and worked around Jake Fox’s error in the seventh. Guzman struck out a pair and did not walk a batter. He threw 24 pitches, 18 for strikes and should be available on Sunday if needed.

Carlos Marmol was better than he was in the series against the Phillies. He threw strikes and worked around a bloop single to right center by Garrett Jones. Marmol struck out a batter and threw 18 pitches, 12 for strikes.

Kevin Gregg did the job for his 23rd save, thanks to an excellent catch by Sam Fuld. Fuld turned in another highlight-reel catch on a ball hit by Ramon Vazquez for the second out of the inning. Fuld caught the ball, crashed into the ivy, fell backward and held onto the ball. Piniella shifted Fuld from center to left and inserted Kosuke Fukudome into center at the beginning of the inning and the defensive substitutes paid dividends. Gregg was not fooling the Pirates. He gave up a double off the wall in left center to pinch-hitter Delwyn Young before retiring Brandon Moss swinging to end the game.

The Cubs posted win number 60 on Saturday afternoon (60-55 on the year). As the old cliche goes, every team wins 60 and every team loses 60, it is the other 42 that make a difference in a long season.

Zach Duke turned in another excellent start against the Cubs. Duke came within an out of his fourth complete game of the season … in a losing cause. Duke is arguably the best pitcher on a bad team in the majors.

The Cubs took advantage of a gift in the first inning. Milton Bradley reached on an infield single to the hole at short. Derrek Lee followed with a single to left. With runners on first and second with one out, Jake Fox hit a weak grounder to second base. Luis Cruz tried to tag Lee then threw to first to retire Fox. Lee was called safe and that Cruz did not tag him … replays showed Lee was out of the baseline.

Jeff Baker followed with a single to center on a 2-0 pitch from Zach Duke. Baker ran his hitting streak to seven and drove in Bradley with the Cubs’ first run. Andrew McCutchen threw out Lee at the plate to end the inning.

Geovany Soto doubled to right with one out in the second. Garrett Jones misplayed the ball that allowed Soto to reach. Sam Fuld grounded out to first. The productive out put Soto at third for Tom Gorzelanny. Zach Duke threw one right down main to Gorzelanny and the Cubs’ new southpaw drove the ball right back up the middle. Soto scored, 2-0 Cubs.

Tom Gorzelanny was impressive in the first four innings. He threw strikes and got through the emotions of facing his old team. At one point, Gorzelanny struck out four in a row. He struck out the side in the third and began the fourth by striking out Garrett Jones.

The Pirates got on the board in the fifth after Gorzelanny walked Ramon Vazquez and Luis Cruz to start the inning … the Pirates number seven and number eight batters. Zach Duke dropped a bunt up the third baseline. Gorzelanny picked up the ball, threw low and off the mark to Jeff Baker covering first. Baker caught the ball lunging toward homeplate. The Pirates loaded the bases with no outs but Baker kept the inning manageable.

Andrew McCutchen stepped in and launched Gorzelanny’s first pitch to deep center. Fuld made the catch on the track but Vazquez tagged and scored … 2-1, Cubs. Gorzelanny struck out Lastings Milledge swinging and retired Garrett Jones on a deep fly out to right center … Milton Bradley caught the ball two steps from the ivy.

Tom Gorzelanny did his job and Lou Piniella made the right moves on Saturday … both with the lineup and removing Alfonso Soriano late in the game for the better outfielder in Sam Fuld.

The Cubs won back-to-back games for the first time since winning two in a row to start the series against the Reds in Cincinnati at the beginning of the month (August 3 – August 4).

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Rich Harden will face Ross Ohlendorf in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.

Quote of the Day

"Baseball is all I ever wanted. I could eat, sleep, and dream baseball." - Smoky Joe Wood

Share on Fancred