Cubs Walk a Tightrope … and Win a Series Opener – Cubs 9 Diamondbacks 4

Game Eighty-Three – Cubs 9 Diamondbacks 4
WP – Tom Gorzelanny (3-5) LP – Ian Kennedy (3-7) Save – None

wflag.jpgLou Piniella’s crew ended an ugly 11-game stretch of dropping the first game of a series Monday afternoon. For the first time since May 25 the Chicago Cubs won a series opener. Kosuke Fukudome had a big day at the plate. Fukudome led off the game with a home run to center, his seventh of the year, and finished the afternoon 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored.

The Cubs offense scored nine runs, their largest output since a 12-1 victory over the Angels on June 20. Starlin Castro drove in a pair with his first triple since his debut on May 7 in the second and the Cubs never looked back.

The bottom of the Cubs lineup, seven through nine, drove in seven of the Cubs’ nine runs. Geovany Soto (3-for-4) had a pair of run scoring doubles and a single in four trips to the plate. The Cubs pinch hitters had a good day as well. Mike Fontenot hit for Tom Gorzelanny and he drove in Soto with a single in the sixth.

Alfonso Soriano came off the bench in the ninth for Sean Marshall and ripped his 14th dinger of the season. Soriano’s two run shot gave the Cubs a 9-4 lead.

The Cubs won a game despite a shaky start from Tom Gorzelanny. Gorzelanny barely made it through five innings. Gorzelanny threw 103 pitches, 60 for strikes, walked six and gave up three runs on five hits. Cubs’ pitching issued nine free passes on the afternoon but struck out 12.

Andrew Cashner had trouble throwing strikes in the sixth and lasted just 1/3 of an inning. Cashner walked a pair and gave up a hit and a run. James Russell and Justin Berg were efficient before handing the game over to the back of the pen.

Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol were perfect in their 2 2/3 innings of work. Marshall struck out three of the five batters he faced and Marmol struck out the side in the ninth. It took Marshall just 18 pitches to record five outs … one of his better performances of the season.

The Cubs offense hit the ball with authority in a park they have traditionally struggled in. Five of the Cubs 11 hits were for extra bases and each one plated at least one run.

The Cubs started a very difficult road trip on a positive start and won for just the 16th time in Arizona (16-29 during the regular season at Chase Field). With the victory, the Cubs improved to 4-1 on the year versus Arizona (8-2 against the NL West) but remain 11 below the mediocre mark at 36-47 …

Monday was game 14 of 20 in a row leading up to the All-Star break for the Cubs, and the offense came out swinging. The Cubs did not look like the same team that was outscored 35-12 on their recent homestand … granted Lou Piniella’s crew was facing the D’Backs pitching staff.

Kosuke Fukudome led off the game by launching a 2-1 pitch from Ian Kennedy over the wall in center. Fukudome’s second career leadoff homer gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead.

Chris Young had another big game against Cubs’ pitching Monday afternoon. Young finished the game 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs scored and two stolen bases. Young led off the bottom of the first with a single to left.

Kelly Johnson popped out to center after Young stole second. Justin Upton grounded out to second and advanced Young to third. Gorzelanny then issued back-to-back walks to Miguel Montero and Mark Reynolds. Gorzelanny struck out his former first baseman, Adam LaRoche, swinging to end the inning.

Xavier Nady and Aramis Ramirez started the second with back-to-back singles. Ramirez hit the ball rather well all afternoon and was robbed of at least two doubles. Starlin Castro stepped in and tripled to center on a 2-0 pitch. Castro had squared to bunt on the first two pitches before tripling to center. Nady and Ramirez scored … 3-0 Cubs.

Geovany Soto doubled off the centerfield wall and plated Castro with the Cubs’ fourth run.

The D’Backs started the comeback in the third … but it should have been worse. Gorzelanny walked Young to start the inning. Then walked Kelly Johnson and Justin Upton to load the bases. Miguel Montero hit a sacrifice fly to center and plated Young with Arizona’s first run.

With runners on first and third, Mark Reynolds grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Adam LaRoche cut the Cubs lead to 4-2 with a homer to right to start the fourth. Gorzelanny got through the fourth and the offense tacked on in the fifth.

Kosuke Fukudome singled to left center with one out and advanced to third on a single to right by Ryan Theriot. Piniella called for the hit and run and Theriot delivered. With the infield back, Marlon Byrd hit into a 5-4 fielder’s choice. Fukudome scored … 5-2 Cubs.

The D’Backs scored another single run in the home half of the fifth. Chris Young blooped a single into center. Young stole second and scored on a triple to right center by Kelly Johnson. With the Cubs up 5-3, Gorzelanny struck out Justin Upton for the first out. Montero broke his bat and blooped out to Theriot at second but Gorzelanny walked Mark Reynolds with two outs.

Adam LaRoche grounded out to second to end the fifth.

Geovany Soto got the run right back in the top of the sixth. Ian Kennedy hit Xavier Nady to start the inning. Aramis Ramirez flied out to deep left center and Castro grounded out to third … Nady advanced to second on the productive out.

With first base open, Kennedy pitched to Soto and he ripped Kennedy’s first offering into right center. Nady scored … 6-3 Cubs. But they were not done.

Mike Fontenot hit for Gorzelanny and singled to center. Soto scored the Cubs seventh run.

Andrew Cashner replaced Gorzelanny and could not find the strike zone. Cashner issued a one-out walk to Cole Gillespie. Gerardo Parra reached on a pinch-hit single to left and Young walked to load the bases.

Piniella went to his pen for James Russell.

Kelly Johnson hit a sacrifice fly to left, Gillespie scored and the Cubs were up by a score of 7-4. Piniella then went back to his pen for Justin Berg.

Justin Berg was recalled from Triple-A on Monday and struck out Justin Upton looking on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

Monday was a struggle for the Cubs but a win is a win.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Carlos Silva is scheduled to face Barry Enright Tuesday night.

Quote of the Day

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein
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