Game Sixty-Five – Cubs 6 A’s 2
WP – Ryan Dempster (5-5) LP – Gio Gonzalez (6-5) Save – None
The Chicago Cubs hustled, played small ball, worked counts, walked six times, hit with runners in scoring position, caught the baseball … and Alfonso Soriano was credited with his first sacrifice bunt as a Cub.
The Cubs scored six runs on nine hits, only one longball, and finished the night 3-for-9 with RISP … three of the Cubs six runs scored with two outs.
Derrek Lee led the offense with a 2-for-4 effort at the plate. Lee tied the game at one with his eighth homer of the year in the second. Lee added a single and scored a run on a sacrifice fly by Starlin Castro in the fourth. Castro did his part with the bat as well. Castro walked twice in four trips to the plate, finished the game 1-for-1 with two RBI and was credited with the game winner … a single to left in the second that plated Alfonso Soriano.
Ryan Dempster struggled with his command and had trouble finding a rhythm. The A’s worked deep counts on Dempster a majority of the night but scored only two runs on eight hits against Dempster in 6 2/3 innings. Dempster uncorked a pair of wild pitches, walked two and struck out seven on 120 pitches. Dempster got the job done and picked up his fifth win of the season.
Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol closed out the game. Marshall allowed a hit in his 1 1/3 innings of relief and Marmol was nasty in the ninth. Marmol struck out two of the three batters he faced … and threw just eight pitches.
The Cubs improved to 11-9 in game started by left-handed pitchers.
Jeff Baker and Derrek Lee turned in stellar plays in the field and Lou Piniella’s crew played a complete game for one of the few times this season. Nothing spectacular, they just played good baseball … a rarity for those that follow on a daily basis.
With the win, the Cubs improved to 29-36 on the year … seven below the mediocre mark. The A’s jumped out to a 1-0 lead five minutes after Dempster’s first pitch … and it looked like it was going to be another long night. After Wednesday, the Cubs have been outscored in the first inning 46-27.
Conor Jackson led off the game with a bloop single to right. Daric Barton followed with a single to right on a hit and run play. Jackson advanced to third and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Ryan Sweeney. With the way the Cubs offense has not scored runs, 1-0 looked like a tough hill to climb. Ryan Dempster got out of the first inning without allowing any more damage … but threw 24 pitches in a long first inning.
The Cubs went in order in the first and Dempster worked around a two-out infield single by Mark Ellis in the second.
Derrek Lee tied the game at one to start the second. Lee ripped a 2-1 offering from Gonzalez down the line in left … one of Lee’s hardest hit balls in the last few weeks.
Alfonso Soriano worked a one-out walk and advanced to third on a double to left center by Geovany Soto. Soto hit a liner into left center. Soriano hustled and rounded second. Ryan Sweeney slipped, Soriano made it easily to third and Soto was credited with a double.
Starlin Castro then singled to left on a 1-2 pitch. Soriano scored the go ahead run but Soto was thrown out at the plate. Conor Jackson made a perfect throw. Ryan Dempster struck out swinging to end the inning.
Ryan Dempster worked in and out of a jam in the third inning. Jeff Baker took a hit away from Kurt Suzuki to end the inning. The Cubs were up by 2-1 at the time.
Derrek Lee led off the fourth with a single to right. Xavier Nady smoked a single to center. As the ball flew past the pitchers head, Gio Gonzalez lost his hat.
Alfonso Soriano then shocked everyone in attendance and watching on TV. Soriano dropped a beautiful bunt up the third base line. Soriano was bunting for a hit but it went for a sacrifice. Soriano hustled up the line and nearly beat out Gonzalez’s throw. Soriano advanced the runners and received a loud ovation from those at Wrigley. Piniella said after the game that Soriano bunted on his own.
Soriano’s sacrifice bunt was his first since June 25, 2006 … in a Nationals’ uniform.
The A’s intentionally walked Geovany Soto after Gonzalez fell behind 2-0. With the bases loaded, Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly to center. Lee tagged and scored the Cubs’ fourth run. The Cubs manufactured a run and played a little small ball. Who knew? Dempster flied out to right to end the inning.
The Cubs put the game away in the fifth.
Jeff Baker singled to left with one out. Marlon Byrd walked on four pitches but Lee struck out. Xavier Nady delivered a single to left on a 3-2 pitch from Gonzalez. Baker scored 5-1 Cubs.
Alfonso Soriano then doubled to right. Byrd and Nady scored easily but Soriano was thrown out at third to end the inning. Replays showed Soriano was safe. At the end of five … 6-1 Cubs.
The A’s scored their final run in the seventh. Cliff Pennington singled to center with one-out. Conor Jackson followed with a single to right. Dempster uncorked his second wild pitch and advanced both runners ninety feet. Lee then took away a hit from Daric Barton.
Derrek Lee made a diving stop on a ball hit into the hole. Dempster covered as Pennington scored from third. Sean Marshall replaced Dempster and retired Ryan Sweeney on a ground out to second to end the inning.
Ryan Dempster turned in his team leading ninth quality start.
The Cubs put together another good game … but it was just one win.
Randy Wells will face Dallas Braden in the series finale Thursday afternoon.