Down to the Last Strike – Cubs 3 Giants 2

Game One Hundred Fifty-Two – Cubs 3 Giants 2
WP – Aaron Heilman (4-4) LP – Brian Wilson (5-6, BS 7) Save – Carlos Marmol (15)

wflag.jpgThe Chicago Cubs were on the brink of officially being eliminated late Thursday night in San Francisco. Brad Penny had out dueled Ryan Dempster for eight innings and the Cubs only run scored on a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Jeff Baker in the fourth inning.

With the Giants up 2-1, Derrek Lee led off the ninth with a walk against Giants’ closer Brian Wilson. Micah Hoffpauir and Mike Fontenot both swung at the first pitch and popped out to the left side of the infield. Jeff Baker stepped to the plate representing the Cubs last chance of the night.

Derrek Lee stole second base on the first pitch to Jeff Baker … Lee’s first stolen base and attempt of the entire season. Baker swung and missed at Wilson’s next offering then laid off two sliders to run the count to 2-2 with the tying run on second.

Jeff Baker launched Brian Wilson’s fifth pitch of the at bat over the wall in left and gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead … his fourth home run of the year.

Carlos Marmol made it a little interesting in the ninth. After striking out Juan Uribe to start the inning, Randy Winn reached on an infield single. Marmol walked Travis Ishikawa.

With two on and one out, Carlos Marmol struck out Aaron Rowand on three pitches for the second out. Fred Lewis pinch-hit for Brian Wilson and struck out swinging to end the game. Marmol picked up his 15th save of the year, his 12th in a row and is a perfect 11-for-11 in save opportunities since being named the Cubs’ closer.

Derrek Lee left the game in the bottom of the ninth. Lee’s status was not made available during the game. Lee up-ended Giants’ second baseman Eugenio Velez sliding into second in the ninth. Velez was shaken up on the play but remained in the game. Lee ran for himself but Micah Hoffpauir took over at first in the bottom of the inning.

The Giants lost for only the second time all season when leading after eight innings.

Ryan Dempster pitched another very good ballgame. Dempster allowed only two runs on seven hits in seven innings with a walk and six strikeouts. The weak-hitting John Bowker drove in both runs against Dempster, with a little help from the Cubs’ defense. Bowker’s first double of the year tied the game at one in the fourth and his second homer of the season gave the Giants a 2-1 lead in the seventh.

Brad Penny silenced the Cubs’ offense once again … but the final score is all that matters at this point of the year. The Cubs need just three more wins with 10 left to play to secure their third winning season in a row.

The entire four game series figures to be exactly like Thursday night … low scoring pitcher’s duels. Both teams have very good starting staffs and both teams feature less than stellar offenses.

The Cubs managed only eight hits all night. They left only four on base and finished the game 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position … and one of the hits did not plate a run.

Micah Hoffpauir led off the fourth with a double to center that short-hopped the wall. Mike Fontenot singled to left on a 3-2 pitch. Hoffpauir had to hold and advanced to third once the ball got past Juan Uribe.

Jeff Baker put the ball in play but grounded in a 4-6-3 double play … the first of three on the night for the Cubs’ offense. Micah Hoffpauir scored, 1-0 Cubs.

The Giants tied the game in the bottom of the inning. Juan Uribe reached on a two-out swinging bunt on the third base side of the mound. Ryan Dempster tried to make a barehanded play.

John Bowker ripped Dempster’s 0-2 pitch to left. Micah Hoffpauir misplayed the ball, missed his cut off man and the ball ended up in Mike Fontenot’s glove. Fontenot was unsure of the play behind him, held the ball too long and Uribe scored all the way from first. If Fontenot throws home, Uribe was likely out.

The game remained tied until the seventh as Brad Penny retired one batter after the other. At one point Penny retired 11 in a row ….

John Bowker led off the seventh with a towering homer over the wall in right … it was not a cheapie.

Aaron Heilman replaced Dempster in the eighth. Heilman retired the Giants in order and was the beneficiary of Jeff Baker’s homer in the ninth.

While the Cubs’ post-season chances have been over for several weeks, at least they have not mailed in the season … and the Cardinals will have to win on Friday in order to capture the Central Division crown for 2009.

10 …

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Friday night it will be Carlos Zambrano versus Tim Lincecum.

Quote of the Day

"Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome." - Arthur Ashe
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