It’s Never Easy … Cubs Hang on for the Win – Cubs 9 Cardinals 7

Game One Hundred Eighteen – Cubs 9 Cardinals 7
WP – Ryan Dempster (11-8) LP – Kyle Lohse (1-5) Save – Carlos Marmol (21)

wflag.jpgThe Cubs took a commanding 9-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth after a well-played game. But the Cubs’ young pen turned what should have been a nice win into more doubt for the future. The kids simply cannot throw strikes and when they do, it is batting practice for the opposition.

Marcos Mateo and James Russell struggled with their command and Lou had to bring in Carlos Marmol to rescue the rookies. The Cubs ended up giving the Cardinals five runs in the ninth … and three scored with Carlos Marmol on the mound. Marmol picked up his 21st save in a game he should have never pitched in.

The Chicago Cubs won back-to-back road games for the first time since sweeping the Diamondbacks in July (July 5 – July 7) and posted consecutive wins for the first time since July 23 and July 24 against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

Ryan Dempster was very solid once again Sunday and improved to 3-0 in August. Dempster made only one mistake in his 6 2/3 innings of work. Dempster served up his fourth homer of the season to Albert Pujols in the first. Dempster surrendered two runs on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Dempster threw 119 pitches, 75 for strikes.

Derrek Lee had a big day before departing in the fifth with stiffness in his lower back. Lee hit his third homer in as many games in the first, all three to different fields … Friday night to left, Saturday to right and Sunday to center.

Derrek Lee added his second homer of the game (fourth in seven at bats) in third and gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead. For the first time since June of 2009, Derrek Lee hit home runs in three straight games. Sunday was the 24th multi-homer game of Derrek Lee’s career and the second time this season (June 18 against the Angels).

Kosuke Fukudome reached a milestone on Sunday. Fukudome recorded the 1,500th hit of his career between Japan and the Cubs with a double in the fourth.

The Cubs scored six runs in the fourth inning and chased Kyle Lohse from the game. Six straight Cubs reached on five hits and a walk … with a majority of the damage coming from the bottom of the lineup.

Marlon Byrd (3-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored) and Xavier Nady (1-for-3 with a run scored and a HBP) started the fourth with back-to-back singles. Blake DeWitt walked and Koyie Hill came through again. Hill hit a ground rule double to right center that hit the warning track and bounced over the short wall. Byrd and Nady scored but the Cubs were not done.

Ryan Dempster extended his hitting streak to two games with a single to right. Dempster’s second RBI of the year plated DeWitt. Kosuke Fukudome then doubled in Hill and Dempster scored on a wild pitch from Mike MacDougal.

Marlon Byrd delivered his second hit of the fourth inning that drove in Fukudome from third and capped the inning.

The Cubs scored six runs on six hits and sent 11 to the plate in the fourth … it was too much, too late but still a thing of beauty against Tony LaRussa and the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cubs have won only two series in their last 13 against the NL Central, both against the Cardinals.

The Cubs posted their 50th win of the year Sunday (50-68) with their fifth victory in nine games against the Redbirds … The Cubs offense pounded out 12 hits Sunday afternoon and finished the game 5-for-10 with RISP, left just six on base, and it turned out they needed all nine runs …

The Cubs first two hits of the game came off the bat of Derrek Lee … two homers to centerfield. Lee gave the Cubs a brief 1-0 lead with a two-out shot in the first, his 15th of the season.

Albert Pujols tied the game in the home half of the first. Pujols got just enough of a 0-1 pitch from Dempster and deposited the ball in first row of the bleachers in right center. Pujols’ 30th of the season was his fourth of the year off Dempster … and sixth of his career off the Cubs’ right-hander.

Derrek Lee broke up the one-one tie with his second dinger of the day in the third. Lee hit a carbon copy of his first blast … the ball landed within a foot of his previous shot.

Dempster kept the Cardinals off the board in the third and turned it over to the offense.

The Cubs offense turned it on in the fourth after Marlon Byrd started the inning with bloop single to right. Xavier Nady singled to left on a 2-1 pitch from Kyle Lohse.

Blake DeWitt walked for the second time in as many at bats and loaded the bases with no outs. Koyie Hill launched a 1-0 pitch from Lohse into right center. The ball hit on the warning track and hopped over the eight-foot outfield wall. Byrd and Nady scored … 4-1 Cubs.

Ryan Dempster worked the count to 2-2 before hitting a sharp single into right. DeWitt scored, Hill held at third and the Cubs took a 5-1 lead.

Tony LaRussa had seen enough at that point and lifted Kyle Lohse before the right-hander had recorded an out in the fourth.

Kosuke Fukudome greeted Mike MacDougal with a double down the left field line … his 1,500 career hit between Japan and the Cubs. Hill scored the Cubs’ sixth run.

MacDougal uncorked a wild pitch with Starlin Castro at the plate. Dempster saw the ball getaway from Molina and he took off for the plate. Dempster slid in safe as MacDougal received the ball from Molina and fell on top of Dempster. Hill advanced to third on the play.

With the Cubs up 7-1, Castro grounded out to third and Lee struck out … the first outs of the inning.

Aramis Ramirez walked to put runners on first and third for Marlon Byrd. Byrd recorded his second hit of the game, a single to right that plated Hill with the Cubs eighth run.

Xavier Nady worked the count to 3-2 but tapped back to the mound to end the inning.

The Cardinals cut the Cubs lead to 8-2 in the bottom of the fifth. Dempster issued his first free pass of the game to Colby Rasmus to begin the inning. Aaron Miles grounded out to third on a hit and run that advanced Rasmus to second. Brendan Ryan tapped back to the mound for the second out.

Skip Schumaker singled to left on a 1-2 pitch from Dempster and drove in Rasmus … 8-2 Cubs.

Dempster pitched around a leadoff walk to Albert Pujols in the sixth but could not get through the seventh.

Dempster retired Blake Hawksworth and Aaron Miles to start the inning. Brendan Ryan blooped a double down the left field line on the ninth pitch of the at bat. Lou made the slow walk and brought in Sean Marshall to face Skip Schumaker.

Marshall struck out Schumaker on five pitches to end the inning.

The Cubs tacked on in the top of the ninth. Tyler Colvin reached on a hustle double to right on a ball that hit off of Nick Stavinoha’s glove. Aramis Ramirez then blooped a single into right. Colvin scored but Aramis was caught in a rundown and tagged out (9-3-6-3).

Marcos Mateo was good in relief of Marshall in the eighth but struggled in the ninth.

Steven Hill hit his first career homer off Mateo to start the ninth. Nick Stavinoha then ripped a single off Castro’s glove into left center. Aaron Miles singled to right and the Cardinals were in business.

Mateo walked Brendan Ryan on five pitches to load the bases … with no outs.

Lou Piniella brought in James Russell to face Skip Schumaker.

Russell fell behind 2-0 but worked his way back and struck out Schumaker on a 3-2 pitch. Jon Jay walked on four pitches to force in the Cardinals fourth run.

In an inning that started with the Cubs up 9-2, Piniella brought in Carlos Marmol with the game on the line.

Felipe Lopez hit in the spot vacated by Albert Pujols and singled to right on a 1-2 pitch. Miles and Ryan scored … 9-6. Marmol then walked Randy Winn on four pitches to load the bases with one out.

Allen Craig stepped to the plate and hit a routine grounder to short. Castro bobbled what was a tailor made double play ball. Jay scored as Craig was thrown out at first. The Cardinals were down 9-7 with runners on second and third with two outs.

Steven Hill hit for the second time in the inning … and grounded out to short to end the inning and the game.

It’s never easy … but it is always a good day when the Cubs beat the Cardinals.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs return home and open a seven-game homestand Monday with the first of four against the Padres. Tom Gorzelanny versus Kevin Correia.