What the Z? Cubs Beat Carpenter and the Cards – Cubs 3 Cardinals 2

Game One Hundred Seventeen – Cubs 3 Cardinals 2
WP – Carlos Zambrano (4-6) LP – Chris Carpenter (13-4) Save – Carlos Marmol (20)

wflag.jpgThe Chicago Cubs won a one-run ballgame, Carlos Zambrano out pitched Chris Carpenter and both Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hit home runs. Time to party like it is 2008 …

The Cubs beat Chris Carpenter for the first time in more than two years (August 10, 2008) and the difference was longballs by Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee … plus a great outing by Carlos Zambrano.

The Cubs tallied three extra base hits off Carpenter in the second inning, the first time since 2006 Carpenter allowed three extra base knocks in the same inning. The Cubs first four hits off Carpenter went for extra bases … Aramis Ramirez homer, doubles by Marlon Byrd and Koyie Hill and Derrek Lee’s longball.

Aramis Ramirez tied the game at one with his 17th homer of the year on Carpenter’s first pitch of the second inning. Marlon Byrd doubled with one out and scored on a two-out double by Koyie Hill.

Carlos Zambrano retired the Cardinals in order on eight pitches in the bottom of the second … and put Chris Carpenter right back on the mound on a very hot day in St. Louis.

Derrek Lee gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead in the third with a two-out homer to right … two of the Cubs’ three runs scored with two outs Saturday afternoon.

The Cubs did not manage another run after the third inning.

Carlos Zambrano put together his best outing of the season, and arguably his best start since the 2008 season. Zambrano allowed two runs on seven hits with a pair of walks and three strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Zambrano appeared to get stronger as the game progressed. His fastball was in the high 80s in the first couple of innings but by the fifth he was locating in the low 90s … topping out at 94. Z threw 96 pitches, 62 for strikes.

The Cubs defense stepped up behind Zambrano. Blake DeWitt made a nice running catch with his back to the infield in the second. Kosuke Fukudome took at least a double away from Matt Holliday to start the fourth. Fukudome reached up and caught the liner as he crashed into the padding.

Marcos Mateo, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol pitched the final 3 1/3 innings without allowing a run … and Marmol picked up a five-out save.

The Cubs evened the season series with the Cardinals at four wins apiece … and Carlos Zambrano improved to 5-0 in six career starts at the new Busch Stadium.

Lou’s crew won for just the 14th time this season in games decided by one-run (14-29, 3-9 since the break) and improved to 49-68 on the year …

Carlos Zambrano looked like the pitcher formerly known as Big Z on Saturday. Zambrano threw the ball extremely well and did not let the little things, or big hits, get to him.

It only took 12 minutes for the Cardinals to take the lead Saturday afternoon. Jon Jay blooped a single into left on a good 1-0 pitch from Zambrano. Albert Pujols then ripped a double on a bad 0-2 pitch from Z. With runners on second and third with one out, Matt Holliday hit a sacrifice fly into right. Jay tagged and scored … 1-0 Cardinals.

Zambrano stay focused and struck out Colby Rasmus to end the inning.

Z threw only 13 pitches in the opening inning and did not appear to let the Pujols knock get to him.

Aramis Ramirez tied the game on Chris Carpenter’s first pitch of the second inning. Ramirez launched his 17th of the year well over the wall in left.

Marlon Byrd reached on a one-out double to right center and advanced to third on a ground out to first by Blake DeWitt. Koyie Hill gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead with a double to left. Byrd scored on the play and Zambrano grounded out to short to end the inning.

Zambrano retired the Cardinals in order on just eight pitches in the second … and Derrek Lee added to the Cubs’ lead in the top of the third.

Lee ripped a 3-2 pitch from Carpenter over the right field wall into the Cardinals’ pen. Lee’s second longball in as many games gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead.

Carlos Zambrano’s second two-out walk nearly cost him in the fifth. Felipe Lopez walked with two outs and advanced to second on another bloop single to left by Jon Jay … Z jammed Jay with a good inside fastball but he got just enough of it and put the ball out of the reach of Starlin Castro.

Albert Pujols hit a hot smash to a diving Ramirez at third. Ramirez snagged the ball but lost it in the transfer. The bases were loaded with two outs.

Matt Holliday grounded out to third on a 1-0 pitch to end the inning.

After five, Z’s pitch count … 75 total, 50 for strikes.

Zambrano had problems recording the third out in the fourth and fifth innings. Two out walks prolonged both frames but Z was able to wiggle out without allowing any runs … but that all changed in the sixth.

Zambrano struck out Colby Rasmus and retired Yadier Molina on a grounder to short for the first two outs in the sixth … but Skip Schumaker singled to center with two outs.

Randy Winn hit for Chris Carpenter. A wild pitch on a 1-1 offering to Winn advanced Schumaker to second then Winn ripped Z’s next pitch into right. Fukudome’s throw was up the third baseline, Schumaker scored … 3-2 Cubs.

Lou Piniella made the slow walk and brought in Marcos Mateo to face Brendan Ryan with the tying run on second. Ryan swung at the first pitch and hit a routine fly into right center to end the inning.

Sean Marshall struck out Albert Pujols to end the seventh and took the mound to start the eighth. Matt Holliday led off the eighth with a single to left. The Cubs caught a break when Colby Rasmus popped out to Koyie Hill on a bunt attempt. With one out and the tying run on first, Piniella made the slow walk and brought in Carlos Marmol … and Darwin Barney for Starlin Castro.

Yadier Molina flied out to left center on Marmol’s first pitch. Marmol fell behind Skip Schumaker 3-0 before striking him out looking to end the inning.

The game remained 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth.

Aaron Miles reached on an infield single, and a throwing error by Aramis Ramirez, to start the ninth. Miles hit a slow roller to third, Ramirez rushed his throw and the ball ended up in the stands.

Brendan Ryan squared to bunt on a 1-0 pitch and popped up to Koyie Hill in foul ground. Hill dropped the ball and it looked like the Cardinals would take advantage. But Ryan popped up a second bunt attempt that Hill caught for the first out.

Felipe Lopez fouled out to Aramis Ramirez then Marmol went to work. Marmol struck out Allen Craig swinging on three nasty sliders.

Saturday might have been only the Cubs third win in 17 games, but it came against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Ryan Dempster will face Kyle Lohse in the series finale Sunday afternoon.

Quote of the Day

"Never let the fear of striking out get in your way of playing the game." – Babe Ruth

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