Playing Out Z Ztring – Cubs 8 Pirates 5

Game One Hundred Thirty-Eight – Cubs 8 Pirates 5
WP – Carlos Zambrano (8-6) LP – Kevin Hart (4-6) Save – Carlos Marmol (11)

wflag.jpgEven when the Cubs win a game there is drama … and that was the case on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh. The Cubs completed the three-game sweep of the Pirates and Carlos Zambrano earned his first victory since July, but …

Carlos Zambrano struggled with his command early on, walked one batter in each of the first three innings, and allowed seven runners to reach in the first four innings. The Pirates cut the Cubs lead to 3-2 in the fourth on a two-run double by Andrew McCutchen. Zambrano then found a groove and settled down in his final two innings of work. Zambrano did his job and kept the Pirates off the board while his offense tacked on.

Zambrano took the mound to start the bottom of the seventh, completed his warm up tosses then was lifted in favor of John Grabow. Big Z allowed two runs on five hits with three walks and eight strikeouts on 98 pitches, 62 for strikes. Zambrano took exception to leaving after six innings and did not want to give Lou Piniella the ball. They exchanged words and continued the discussion in the dugout.

John Grabow completed a perfect inning of relief against his former team.

The final score was much closer than it needed to be. Kevin Gregg served up his Major League leading (for a reliever) thirteenth homer in the eighth. Former Cub, Ronny Cedeno cut the Cubs’ lead to 8-5 with his tenth home run of the year, a three-run shot over the wall in left. Gregg could not find the strike zone with the Cubs up by six runs. Gregg walked a pair before serving up the longball to Ronny Cedeno and creating a save opportunity for Carlos Marmol. Marmol retired the Pirates in order in the ninth and earned his eleventh save of the season.

The Cubs offense was extremely patient against former Cub, Kevin Hart. Hart struggled with his command and walked six batters in five innings. The Cubs managed four runs on six hits against Hart then put the game away in the seventh and eighth.

Kosuke Fukudome and Ryan Theriot were a combined 4-for-9 with two walks, two runs scored and a RBI. Fukudome scored the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Baker.

Micah Hoffpauir hit his tenth dinger of the year in the fifth inning off Kevin Hart. Hoffpauir drove in two runs, scored three times and reached in four of his five trips to the plate (2-for-2 with two walks, a sacrifice fly, a double, a home run, two RBI and three runs scored). Koyie Hill put together another good game at the dish. Hill delivered a big two-out, two-run single in the eighth.

The Cubs finished the six-game road trip with a 4-2 record and improved to four games over .500 for the season …

The Cubs scored single runs in the first three innings … with a lot of patience.

Kosuke Fukudome led off with a single to left. Ryan Theriot grounded out to second, Fukudome advanced and Derrek Lee walked … Hart’s first of the afternoon. Micah Hoffpauir showed a lot of patience and walked to load the bases for Jeff Baker.

Baker delivered with a sacrifice fly to center. Fukudome scored, 1-0 Cubs. Mike Fontenot grounded into a 4-6 fielder’s choice to end the inning.

Koyie Hill singled with one-out in the second. Zambrano struck out but Kosuke worked a two-out walk. Ryan Theriot then delivered a single to center on a 2-0 pitch. Koyie Hill scored, 2-0 Cubs. With runners on first and third, Derrek Lee grounded out to third to end the inning.

The Cubs third run came in the third inning after a leadoff walk by Micah Hoffpauir. Mike Fontenot singled to right and Hoffpauir advanced to third with one out. Bobby Scales put the ball in play and grounded out to first … Hoffpauir scored, 3-0 Cubs.

After the Pirates cut the Cubs lead to 3-2 in the fourth, Micah Hoffpauir led off the fifth with his tenth homer of the year … and took the momentum right back.

The Game remained 4-2 until the seventh. Derrek Lee singled to center off of Jeff Karstens to start the inning. Micah Hoffpauir followed with a double to right. Jeff Baker struck out looking for the first out. Mike Fontenot was intentionally walked after Karstens threw three straight out of the strike zone.

With the bases loaded and one out, Bobby Scales struck out swinging.

Koyie Hill followed and ripped Karstens’ first pitch into right. Lee and Hoffpauir scored, 6-2 Cubs. Fontenot advanced to third but Zambrano struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

The Cubs final two runs came in the eighth. Kosuke Fukudome and Ryan Theriot reached on back-to-back singles. Derrek Lee grounded into a 5-4 fielder’s choice. Micah Hoffpauir followed with a sacrifice fly to left, Fukudome scored … 7-2 Cubs. Jeff Baker was hit on the first pitch of his at bat.

Mike Fontenot delivered a single to center that plated Derrek Lee with the Cubs’ eighth run … and with Kevin Gregg on the team, they would need every run they scored before the bottom of the eighth.

24 …

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Thursday is a day off for the Chicago Cubs, their first break since August 24. Rich Harden will face either Johnny Cueto or Justin Lehr and the rest of the Cincinnati Reds on Friday afternoon at Wrigley.

Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt