Game One Hundred Thirty-Four – Cubs 5 Mets 3
WP – Rich Harden (9-8) LP – Nelson Figueroa (2-4) Save – Carlos Marmol (9)
The Cubs ended their two-game losing streak on the strength of three home runs … one by Aramis Ramirez and two monster shots by Derrek Lee. All five of the Cubs’ runs came via the longball while Rich Harden and the Cubs’ pen took care of the rest.
Rich Harden earned the 50th win of his big league career (50-28) with a short, dominant performance against the Mets. Harden struck out 10, all swinging, over five innings, issued only one walk and allowed seven hits.
Cory Sullivan hit his second home run in the last 24 hours (also just his second of the year) in the second inning for the Mets’ first run. Harden committed the 21st error of the year by the Cubs’ pitching staff (Major League worst) in the fourth that led to the Mets’ second run against Harden.
Aaron Heilman was booed in his return to New York then gave up a run in the seventh that cut the Cubs’ lead to 4-3. Heilman struggled with his command, walked a batter and gave up a couple of hits. David Wright hit a one-out sacrifice fly to center that plated Fernando Tatis with the Mets’ third run.
Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez was the Cubs offense on Saturday afternoon. Following a single by Lee, Ramirez gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead in the fourth with his 12th homer of the season.
With the game tied at two in the top of the fifth, Kosuke Fukudome reached on a one-out single then scored on the first of two home runs from Derrek Lee. Lee hit his 28th homer into the second deck and gave the Cubs a 4-2 lead. Lee added his 29th of the season, a solo shot to the second deck once again in the eighth.
In his first game back since becoming a father for the second time, Lee was 3-for-4 with two homers, three RBI and three runs scored. On the year Lee has hit 29 home runs and driven in 93 RBI …
John Grabow and Carlos Marmol loaded the bases in the eighth inning but Marmol escaped without allowing run. Marmol was dominant in the ninth with a pair of strikeouts (Luis Castillo and David Wright looking) and a routine fly out to center to end the game.
The Cubs avoided the .500 mark once again and Lou Piniella won his 250th game as the Cubs’ manager … After a career day last Sunday at Wrigley it appeared early the Cubs would allow Nelson Figueroa to make them look bad once again. Figueroa struck out eight in six innings of work with half of them coming in the first three innings. The Cubs managed only one hit (an infield single by Jeff Baker) and two walks (Bobby Scales and Kosuke Fukudome) against Figueroa until the fourth inning.
Derrek Lee led off the fourth with a single to left. Aramis Ramirez then launched a 0-1 pitch three rows deep into the stands in left … the Cubs’ first homer at CitiField.
Figueroa struck out two of the four batters he faced after the Ramirez homer to end the fourth.
After giving the Mets a 1-0 lead in the second with a long homer to right, Cory Sullivan worked a one-out walk in the bottom of the fourth. Rich Harden threw the ball away on a wild pickoff attempt, the staff’s big league leading 21st error of the year, that allowed Sullivan to advance to second.
Josh Thole singled to left on a 2-2 pitch. With runners on first and third with one out, Anderson Hernandez hit a ‘Baltimore Chop‘ off the plate to Derrek Lee at first. Sullivan scored and Hernandez beat out Lee’s throw to first. Lee looked home, then to second before throwing to Jeff Baker.
Nelson Figueroa struck out and Angel Pagan k’d for the third time in the game against Rich Harden to end the inning.
Kosuke Fukudome reached on a one-out single to left. Derrek Lee launched Figueroa’s 1-1 pitch to the second deck in left … 4-2 Cubs.
Rich Harden retired the Mets in order in the fifth to end his day after 102 pitches.
Tom Gorzelanny walked Cory Sullivan to start the inning but ended up facing the minimum after inducing a 1-6-3 double play off the bat of pinch-hitter Nick Evans.
Aaron Heilman received a chorus of boos when he replaced Gorzelanny to start the seventh. The Mets’ fans almost witnessed Heilman blow another game. Fernando Tatis reached on a single to left on a 3-1 pitch to start the inning. A wild pitch advanced Tatis to second then Angel Pagan singled to center. Tatis was held at third with no outs … and the Mets down by two.
Luis Castillo struck out but David Wright hit a sacrifice fly to center on a 2-2 pitch from Heilman. Tatis scored, 4-3 Cubs.
Lou Piniella made the slow walk and brought in John Grabow to face Daniel Murphy. The Mets’ first baseman grounded out to first to end the inning.
Derrek Lee got the run right back in the eighth. Lee launched the first offering from Elmer Dessens into the second deck in left … 5-3, Cubs.
Jeff Francoeur led off the bottom of the eighth with a single to right off of John Grabow. Cory Sullivan hit a weak grounder to second, Francoeur advanced on the productive out. After Josh Thole lined out to right center, Wilson Valdez walked … and ended John Grabow’s afternoon.
After Omir Santos was announced, Piniella went to his pen for Carlos Marmol.
Jeremy Reed pinch-hit for Santos and walked to load the bases with two outs. Angel Pagan worked the count to 3-2 before flying out to center for the final out of the inning.
Carlos Marmol struck out Luis Castillo swinging, David Wright looking and Daniel Murphy on a weak fly out to center for the final three outs of the game.
Marmol earned his ninth save after 1 1/3 innings, one walk, two strikeouts and 30 pitches (19 for strikes).
The Cubs improved to two games over .500 mark with 28 left to play …
Randy Wells is scheduled to face Mike Pelfrey in the finale against the Mets on Sunday afternoon.