Game Fifty-Five – Cubs 8 Astros 5
WP – Ryan Dempster (4-5) LP – Roy Oswalt (3-8) Save – Carlos Marmol (12)
Lou Piniella’s crew snapped their four-game losing streak and won for the first time in a week Saturday night in Houston. The middle of the Cubs’ lineup and Tyler Colvin showed up and pounded Roy Oswalt. Oswalt left after seven and six runs on nine hits … his worst start of the season.
Aramis Ramirez put together his first three-hit game of the season. Ramirez hit his first homer since May 17 and tied the game at one in the second. Ramirez added a RBI single in the fourth and finished the game 3-for-4 with two runs scored, two RBI and his fifth longball of the year. Ramirez recorded his first multi-RBI game since May 17.
The middle of the Cubs’ lineup hit the ball extremely well against one of the best in the NL. After a miserable performance Friday night, the middle of the Cubs lineup Derrek Lee, Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez combined to go 8-for-14 with three RBI, five runs scored, three doubles and a home run.
Tyler Colvin continued to make his case to remain in the lineup. Colvin doubled and hit a two-run homer, his sixth of the year, in five trips to the plate. Colvin played a solid game in the field as well.
Both of Lou Piniella’s changes played a big role in the win. Not only did Colvin deliver but Koyie Hill also had a big game at the plate. Hill walked and doubled in two runs in the eighth … Hill finished 2-for-3 with a run scored and two RBI.
The four runs driven in by Tyler Colvin and Koyie Hill came with two outs. The Cubs’ offense finished the night 4-for-14 with RISP and left five on base.
Ryan Dempster settled down after laboring through the first inning and picked up the win. Dempster struggled with his command in the first inning. Threw 28 pitches, 14 for strikes, and gave up the first run of the game on a RBI single by Lance Berkman. Dempster served up two more homers, one to Jeff Keppinger in the third … his first of the year and the other to Humberto Quintero in the seventh.
Dempster was not sharp but was good enough to beat the Astros. Dempster allowed three runs on six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.
The bullpen did an excellent job in relief of Dempster … and would not have allowed a run if not for an error by Ryan Theriot in the ninth. Sean Marshall and Jeff Stevens threw the ball extremely well but Piniella had to use Carlos Marmol in the ninth after the Astros plated a pair and put the tying run in the on deck circle.
Carlos Marmol threw four pitches, recorded two outs and picked up the save.
Saturday’s game featured several “firsts-since” … the most notable, Ryan Theriot worked a walk in the ninth inning, his first free pass since May 1.
Was Saturday night a one-game wonder or the start of the offense producing to expectations?
With the win the Cubs improved to 25-30, five games under .500 … When Lance Berkman drove in Michael Bourn in the first inning, it looked like the game would be over 11 minutes after the first pitch. After all, the Cubs offense had scored only 15 runs over the last nine games and Roy Oswalt was on the mound.
Ryan Dempster did a good job limiting the damage in the first and did not put his team in to big of a hole.
After Berkman’s RBI single, Dempster struck out Carlos Lee and retired Hunter Pence on a ground out to second. Nine of Dempster’s first 12 pitches were out of the strike zone and of the 28 he threw in the first, only half were strikes.
Aramis Ramirez entered Saturday’s game 2-for-his-last-28 and showed signs of life.
Ramirez worked the count to 2-2 against Oswalt with one out in the second. Ramirez then ripped Oswalt’s next pitch into the Crawford Boxes, his first dinger since May 17 tied the game at one.
With the game tied at one and two outs in the third, Dempster got ahead of Jeff Keppinger 1-2. Keppinger lined the next pitch down the line in left and over the wall … Astros up 2-1.
The middle of the Cubs’ lineup woke up in the fourth. After Colvin struck out swinging, Derrek Lee singled to left. Marlon Byrd then doubled to right on a 0-2 pitch. With one out and runners on second and third, Aramis Ramirez singled to left on a 2-2 pitch. Lee scored and tied the game at two.
Alfonso Soriano then drove in the go ahead run with a sacrifice fly to right center. Byrd scored … 3-2 Cubs and Lou’s crew put a crooked number on the board.
Ryan Dempster worked around a walk to Pence and a single by Pedro Feliz in the fourth. The Cubs took a 3-2 lead into the sixth.
Derrek Lee and Marlon Byrd recorded back-to-back doubles in the sixth and gave the Cubs a 4-2 lead.
Koyie Hill walked to start the seventh … the Cubs first free pass of the night. Ryan Dempster sacrificed him to second but Ryan Theriot popped out to right for the second out. Theriot’s first four at bats, four outs on 13 pitches.
Roy Oswalt fell behind Tyler Colvin 1-0, then the Cubs’ rookie launched Roy O’s next pitch into the upper deck. Colvin’s two-run shot gave the Cubs a comfortable 6-2 lead.
Humberto Quintero hit his second homer of the year, a solo shot to left center in the bottom of the seventh. Quintero ended Dempster’s night after 101 pitches.
Sean Marshall and Jeff Stevens were very effective until Ryan Theriot dropped the ball in the ninth. Marshall retired the four batters he faced in relief of Dempster. Stevens replaced Marshall with two outs in the eighth … and took the hill to start the ninth.
Stevens retired Hunter Pence to start the ninth. Pedro Feliz singled then Tony Manzella hit a routine grounder to Starlin Castro. Castro fielded the tailor made double play ball and tossed to Theriot. Theriot tried to throw the ball before he caught it and allowed the inning, and game, to continue.
Humberto Quintero hit a ground rule double down the right field line … the ball hit the warning track and hopped over the wall. Feliz scored … 8-4 Cubs and Piniella went to his pen for Carlos Marmol.
Geoff Blum pinch-hit for Wesley Wright. With runners on second and third with one out, Blum hit a 1-1 pitch to short. Castro threw out Blum at first as Manzella scored the Astros’ fifth run. Michael Bourn popped out to short on Marmol’s first pitch … game over.
Saturday was the first time the Cubs recorded 10 hits or more since May 26 and the eight runs was the largest output since May 7 in Cincinnati.
It was good to see the bats come alive but Saturday must be a start for the Chicago Cubs.
Randy Wells is expected to square off against Brett Myers in the series finale Sunday afternoon.