Where Have You Been Aramis Ramirez? – Cubs 4 Phillies 3

Game Ninety-One – Cubs 4 Phillies 3
WP – Sean Marshall (6-2) LP – Ryan Madson (2-1) Save – Carlos Marmol (17)

wflag.jpgWhere has this been all season? Not only have the Cubs won back-to-back games, but both victories have also been in come from behind fashion. The team that has taken the field over the last two days barely resembles the club that lost 50 of their first 89 games. The Cubs appear to be playing with confidence, something that has eluded Lou’s crew all year. Friday was a game the Cubs would have lost in the first half.

Aramis Ramirez was the difference once again Friday. Ramirez not only hit the game-winning homer in the bottom of the eighth off of Ryan Madson but he extended the inning for Marlon Byrd in the sixth. Ramirez doubled with two outs off Joe Blanton and was along for the ride on Byrd’s longball that tied the game at three. Ramirez finished the afternoon 3-for-4 with his 11th home run, a double, three runs scored and a RBI.

Marlon Byrd was the other half of the Cubs’ offense. Byrd tied the game at three with his 10th homer of the season in the sixth … his first longball since June 9 in Milwaukee. Byrd managed a pair of hits in four trips to the plate.

Ted Lilly rebounded nicely from his previous two outings and notched the Cubs Major League leading 57th quality start. Lilly made only two mistakes but both left the park. Shane Victorino recorded the Phillies first hit, a homer to left in the fourth that gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead. Lilly settled down but his first walk in the sixth set it up for Ryan Howard.

Lilly issued a four-pitch, two-out walk to Jayson Werth then served up a 1-1 fastball to Ryan Howard. Howard deposited the ball onto the roof of the batter’s eye in center and gave Philadelphia a 3-1 lead.

Ted Lilly left after seven complete and allowing three runs on four hits with a walk and a season-high 10 strikeouts. Lilly also notched his first RBI of the year in the fifth with a bases loaded walk. Lilly is hitless on the season but ‘drove‘ in his first run since May 2, 2009 against the Marlins. Theodore ended up with a no-decision but if Friday ends up being his last outing as a Cub at Wrigley, he left on more than a positive note.

Sean Marshall picked up his sixth win after throwing a perfect eighth inning. Marshall retired the Phillies on just 10 pitches.

Carlos Marmol was nasty in the ninth. Marmol made his first appearance in nearly a week (July 10) and struck out the side on just 14 pitches.

Lou’s crew did not quit Friday afternoon and have won six of their last nine. Where was this in May?

With Friday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 41-50 (12-20 in one-run games) on the year … nine games below the mediocre mark.

The Cubs’ offense struggled most of the afternoon against Joe Blanton. They managed only one hit the first time through the lineup and tied the game on a bases loaded walk to Ted Lilly in the fifth.

Aramis Ramirez recorded the Cubs’ second hit of the game in the fifth. Ramirez advanced to second when Alfonso Soriano drew the Cubs’ first walk of the afternoon. Starlin Castro hit a weak grounder to short. Jimmy Rollins only play was at first and he just barely threw out the hustling Castro.

With runners on second and third with two outs, Joe Blanton intentionally walked Geovany Soto to load the bases.

Ted Lilly quickly fell behind 0-2 before working a walk on the seventh pitch of the at bat. Lilly’s free pass forced in Ramirez and tied the game at one.

The Phillies took the lead right back in the top of the sixth. Ted Lilly issued a four-pitch walk to Jayson Werth. With two outs and Werth on first, Lilly uncorked a wild pitch on a 0-1 offering to Ryan Howard. Werth advanced to second and Lilly decided to pitch to Howard.

Ryan Howard hit his third two-run homer of the series on the next pitch. The Phillies took a 3-1 lead and once again, the game appeared over.

Aramis Ramirez proved how important he is to the Cubs in the bottom of the sixth. Blanton struck out Tyler Colvin and Derrek Lee for the first two outs. Ramirez then ripped a 1-1 pitch into left center. Ramirez trotted into second and set the stage for Marlon Byrd.

Byrd launched Blanton’s first pitch into the bleachers in left center and tied the game at three. Byrd’s first homer at Wrigley since May 14 … and first longball since his two homer game in Milwaukee on June 9.

Ted Lilly retired the Phillies in order on just eight pitches in the seventh … and put himself in line for the win.

Starlin Castro led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to left. Castro took second on a wild pickoff attempt by Blanton. Geovany Soto advanced Castro to third with a fly out to right center. The productive out put the go ahead run on third with less than two outs.

Kosuke Fukudome hit for Lilly and struck out swinging on four pitches. Ryan Theriot followed and struck out on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

For as good as Friday’s win was, again, it is a case of too much too late.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Randy Wells will face Cole Hamels in game three on Saturday afternoon.

Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth