Game Thirty-Eight – Cubs 4 Pirates 3
WP – Sean Marshall (2-1) LP – D.J. Carrasco (1-1) Save – Carlos Marmol (6)
Lou Piniella’s crew finally beat the Pirates Sunday afternoon. The Bucs jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the second inning. Ted Lilly gave up RBI singles to Bobby Crosby and Lastings Milledge and it looked like the Cubs would lose their eighth straight to the Pirates.
The Cubs began chipping away in the bottom of the second. Alfonso Soriano doubled in Aramis Ramirez for the Cubs first run. But once again the Cubs failed to plate a runner on third with less than two outs. Mike Fontenot lined out to center on Ross Ohlendorf’s first offering and Geovany Soto looked at strike three. The game remained 3-1 until the seventh inning.
After Ted Lilly worked his way out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the seventh, Mike Fontenot walked on four pitches to start the home half. John Russell went to his pen for Evan Meek … and the Cubs took advantage of two miscues by the Pirates.
The Pirates put together a solid series in the field. Pittsburgh’s defense stepped up again Sunday until two outs in the seventh. Andrew McCutchen robbed Geovany Soto of a hit for the first out in the seventh and Ryan Church made a diving catch in right that took a hit away from Tyler Colvin.
With Mike Fontenot on first and two out, Kosuke Fukudome singled to right on a 3-2 offering from Evan Meek. Fontenot advanced to third on the play.
Mike Fontenot scored the Cubs’ second run on a wild pitch from Meek … Fukudome advanced to second with the tying run.
Starlin Castro put the bat on the ball and hit a weak chopper up the middle that Ronny Cedeno bobbled. Castro reached safely on the error and Fukudome held at third.
Derrek Lee then delivered a single to left on a 1-0 pitch from Meek. Fukudome scored and tied the game at three. Aramis Ramirez ended the inning with a fly out to left center.
Sean Marshall did his job in the eighth and set it up for the offense.
Alfonso Soriano went with D.J. Carrasco’s first pitch and dumped the ball into right center. Soriano’s one-out hit, his second of the game, gave the Cubs a chance to salvage the final game of the series.
With two outs and Geovany Soto at the plate, Soriano broke for second on a 1-1 pitch from Carrasco. The ball skipped past Doumit, Soriano hustled to third with the go ahead run. Soto walked and Piniella went to his bench for Xavier Nady.
Xavier Nady, who was hitless in nine pinch-hit appearances this season, worked the count to 2-2 before singling to right and driving in Alfonso Soriano with the go ahead run.
Carlos Marmol struck out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth to earn his sixth save of the year. Marmol is 6-for-7 in save opportunities this season.
Sunday’s win marked the 1800th in Lou Piniella’s managerial career. Piniella is the 14th manager to reach the milestone.
The Cubs improved to 15-5 when they score four or more runs and Sunday’s victory was the seventh come from behind win of the year for Lou Piniella’s crew. The Cubs improved to 16-22 on the year and 5-16 in games decided by two runs or less … Sunday was anything but a well-played game for the Chicago Cubs. Did they win? Yes. Did they take advantage of the Pirates miscues? Yes. But this team has a long way to go to reach the .500 mark … especially with the “easy part” of their schedule behind them.
Beginning Monday the Cubs play better competition and teams that do not give the opposition extra outs. For Lou Piniella’s crew to right the ship several players are going to have to step up and lead the team. To put it simply, the Cubs are going to have to play a different brand of baseball than the have over the first 38 games.
For the first time this season the Pirates did not score in the first inning against the Cubs … but they did in the second. Ryan Doumit doubled down the third base line off of Aramis Ramirez’s glove. Ted Lilly then walked Steve Pearce. With runners on second and third with one out, Bobby Crosby singled to left. Ryan Doumit scored as Alfonso Soriano overran the ball. Soriano’s error allowed Pearce and Crosby to advance ninety feet.
Ted Lilly intentionally walked Ronny Cedeno to load the bases. Ross Ohlendorf struck out swinging for the second out.
With the bases still loaded but with two outs, Ted Lilly quickly got ahead of Lastings Milledge 0-2. Milledge then lined Lilly’s next offering into left … Lilly missed his target as the ball sailed high and outside. Pearce and Crosby scored … 3-0 Pirates. Andy LaRoche grounded out to short to end the inning. But with the Cubs down 3-0 and Ross Ohlendorf on the mound, another sweep at the hands of the Pirates seemed very possible.
When the Cubs showed patience against Ross Ohlendorf it paid off, the problem is they continue to walk to the plate swinging the bat. The Cubs must go back to working counts …
Aramis Ramirez walked on four pitches to start the bottom of the second. Marlon Byrd blooped a single to right on a 1-1 pitch. Alfonso Soriano then lined a ball into left that Lastings Milledge misplayed. It was ruled a double and Ramirez scored the Cubs’ first run of the day.
With the tying runs in scoring position and no outs, Mike Fontenot swung at Ohlendorf’s first pitch and lined out to center. Geovany Soto then looked at strike three on a 2-2 pitch. After Ted Lilly flied out to left center, the feeling was the Cubs let the Pirates off the hook again.
After the second inning, Ted Lilly went on cruise control. He retired 11 in a row before the seventh and did not allow his fifth hit until Steve Pearce led off the seventh with a single to left.
Bobby Crosby reached on an infield single and the Pirates appeared to be in business in the seventh. Ronny Cedeno flied out to right on a 0-1 pitch. John Russell allowed Ross Ohlendorf to hit for himself … and it almost paid off.
On a 0-1 pitch from Lilly, Ohlendorf squared to bunt. He pulled the bat back and ripped a ball into right field. Kosuke Fukudome raced back and made a diving catch to take a hit, and at least two runs, away from Ohlendorf. Lilly was laboring at that point and walked Milledge to load the bases.
Andy LaRoche worked the count to 3-2 before popping out to Derrek Lee on Ted Lilly’s 30th pitch of the inning.
Lilly threw a season-high 109 pitches and left after three runs on six hits in seven innings with three walks and four strikeouts.
Sunday was a much-needed win but just one win … and only the first of the year against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Cubs open a two-game series on Monday night against the Rockies. Randy Wells versus Aaron Cook in game one.