Game One Hundred-Four – Cubs 4 Reds 2
WP – Randy Wells (8-4) LP – Aaron Harang (5-13) Save – Carlos Marmol (4)
After tossing an eight-inning gem against the Astros in his last start, Randy Wells took a shutout into the eighth inning on Monday night in the Queen City. Randy Wells dominated the Reds through the first seven innings of the game. He allowed only four hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Randy Wells’ eight wins since June 21 leads the big leagues.
Alex Gonzalez broke up the shutout leading off the eighth with his third home run of the year … on a 1-2 pitch. Wells retired Willy Taveras on a ground out to short but gave up a single to center on the first pitch to Adam Rosales. With the Cubs up 4-1, Lou Piniella turned the game over to his beleaguered bullpen.
John Grabow replaced Wells and promptly hit Joey Votto on his first pitch. With runners on first and second with one out, Grabow induced a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Brandon Phillips to end the inning.
Lou Piniella indicated before the game that if there was a save situation in the ninth that Kevin Gregg would not be used on Monday … Carlos Marmol would be the Cubs’ closer.
Carlos Marmol took the mound in the ninth and struggled mightily once again. Laynce Nix walked to lead off the inning. Marmol struck out the free-swinging Jonny Gomes for the first out. Ryan Hanigan followed with a single to right on a 3-1 pitch. Wladimir Balentien pinch-hit for Daniel Ray Herrera and flied out to right. Alex Gonzalez became the tying run …with two outs and two on.
Alex Gonzalez fell behind 0-2 rather quickly but Marmol could not put him away. Gonzalez fouled off seven of the next eight offerings from Marmol before knocking a double into the left field corner. Nix scored easily but Hanigan was held at third with two outs. With the tying runs in scoring position Willy Taveras looked at strike one before grounding out to Derrek Lee on Marmol’s 36th pitch of the inning … game over, Cubs win.
An extremely animated Lou Piniella made a trip to the mound and gave a ‘pep talk’ to Marmol. Piniella paced back and forth and yelled instructions from the dugout during the extremely long, and stressful ninth inning. The Cubs picked up their 56th win of the year and moved into a first place tie with the Cardinals, but it was not easy.
Mike Fontenot gave the Cubs a three-run lead in the second inning with his ninth home run of the year … a three-run shot to right center off of Aaron Harang. Wells made Fontenot’s third career blast off of Harang hold up until Derrek Lee drove in Kosuke Fukudome with a double in the eighth. A much needed tack on run.
Aaron Harang shutdown the Cubs offense after Fontenot’s home run … until the eighth. Harang struck out 10, a new season high, but the Reds’ offense could not figure out Randy Wells. Harang lost his Major League worst 13th game on Monday night.
The offense had chances to put the game away, especially in the eighth but could not capitalize with runners in scoring position. On Monday night, Lou Piniella’s crew finished 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left six on base.
The Cubs improved to 13-5 since the All-Star break, best in the NL, with Monday’s victory … and All’s Wells that ends Wells. The Cubs won the game but it was more like survival of the fittest … and the bullpen came close to blowing another great start by Randy Wells. Wells won for his eighth time in his last nine starts with just another tremendous performance. Where would the Cubs be this year without Randy Wells?
Wells continued to attack hitters on Monday night. He threw 106 pitches on Monday, 69 for strikes and recorded 11 groundball outs. The first four hits he surrendered were either weak hit grounders or infield singles … the homer by Alex Gonzalez was the first hard hit ball of the night by the Cincinnati Reds.
Wells faced the minimum the first time through the order. He retired the Reds in order in the second on just seven pitches and mowed down the Reds 1-2-3 in the third on only nine pitches … six outs on 16 pitches.
Joey Votto worked the first walk issued by Randy Wells in the fourth. Brandon Phillips followed with a single but Laynce Nix grounded out to Ryan Theriot … a 1-6-3 put out to end the inning.
Wells gave up his third hit in the fifth but after five he had thrown only 66 pitches.
After retiring the Reds in order in the sixth, Wells ran into a little trouble in the seventh after a two-out infield single by Jonny Gomes. Ryan Hanigan walked but Paul Janish hit a weak grounder to third and Hanigan was forced at second to end the inning. Wells completed seven scoreless on 95 pitches.
The Cubs went rather quickly in the first inning … then remembered how to take pitches in the second. The offensive approach is very different on the road than at home. The Cubs go from a patient team that works the count to a free-swinging, overly aggressive group that is very reminiscent of Cubs’ teams of the past.
Aramis Ramirez fouled out to Joey Votto on a 2-0 pitch to start the second. Milton Bradley then took one for the team on a 1-2 pitch. Harang hit Bradley on the knee with a breaking ball … Bradley did not appear to make much of an effort to get out of the way.
Alfonso Soriano singled to right on a 0-1 pitch. Mike Fontenot put together a very good at bat that resulted in his ninth homer of the year … and a 3-0 Cubs lead.
Koyie Hill stuck out looking then Randy Wells doubled to left center on a 1-0 pitch … his first career extra base hit. Kosuke Fukudome looked at strike three on a 3-2 pitch but Aaron Harang tossed 30 pitches in the second inning.
Harang retired the Cubs in order in the third, fourth and recorded the first two outs in the fifth … nine in a row. Kosuke Fukudome doubled to right but was stranded at second when Ryan Theriot grounded out to short.
Kosuke Fukudome worked a walk against Harang to start the eighth. Ryan Theriot sacrificed him to second then Dusty Baker trotted out to the mound. Baker stayed with Harang and Derrek Lee made him pay. Lee lined a double into the corner in left. Fukudome scored, 4-1 Cubs.
Baker lifted Harang and brought in David Weathers … and Alex Gonzalez. Weathers intentionally walked Aramis Ramirez (instead of Aaron Harang). Milton Bradley eventually walked to load the bases with one out.
Alfonso Soriano looked at two straight out of the zone before striking out. Mike Fontenot then grounded out to second to end the inning. David Weathers was ejected at the end of the inning for arguing balls and strikes.
There is no such thing as a bad win, but Monday was sure an ugly one … after Randy Wells left the mound.
Tom Gorzelanny is scheduled to make his Cubs’ debut on Tuesday night against Johnny Cueto.