Soto Takes a Licking and Keeps on Hitting … the Game Winner – Cubs 5 Astros 4

Game One Hundred Thirty-Eight – Cubs 5 Astros 4
WP – Andrew Cashner (2-5) LP – Wilton Lopez (5-2) Save – Carlos Marmol (28)

wflag.jpgThe Cubs improved to 9-4 under Mike Quade thanks to the second homer in as many days from Geovany Soto. Soto launched a 1-0 pitch from Wilton Lopez over the ivy in left center … and the ball ended up on Waveland. The Cubs took a 5-4 lead and Carlos Marmol retired the Astros on just eight pitches to close it out.

The Cubs were down 4-0 in the second and battled all the way back to take the series opener.

The Cubs won their 19th one-run game (19-30) behind solid performances by Geovany Soto, Jeff Baker, Marlon Byrd, Blake DeWitt and Darwin Barney … plus a nice shutdown performance by the young bullpen. The Cubs also scored four of their five runs with two outs

Marcos Mateo and Andrew Cashner kept the Astros off the board in the seventh and eighth innings. Mateo gave up a hit and struck out two of the four batters he faced. Cashner picked up his second win after retiring the Astros in order in the eighth.

Jeff Baker, hitting out of the leadoff spot, finished the game 2-for-4 with a RBI double in the fifth that tied the game at four. Marlon Byrd hit his first longball since August 11 in the third. Byrd’s two-run shot cut the Astros lead to 4-3.

Darwin Barney started for the benched Starlin Castro and put together a 2-for-3 day at the plate with two runs scored. But it was Barney’s baserunning that made the difference. Barney scored the Cubs’ first run all the way from second on an infield single to Carlos Lee off the bat of a hustling Blake DeWitt (2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored). Barney then showed of his speed and ability to run the bases the right way by scoring all the way from first on Baker’s double in the fifth.

The Cubs defense was shaky early. Alfonso Soriano committed another error and Geovany Soto failed to keep a ball in the dirt in front of him that led to the Astros second run. But Byrd, Baker and Soto’s play in the fourth kept the Astros from tacking on.

Marlon Byrd held Michael Bourn to a lead off double and Jeff Baker made a strong throw to cut Bourn down at the plate. Geovany Soto took a hard hit from Bourn and held on to the ball. Xavier Nady also made several good defensive plays at first base.

Casey Coleman struggled with his command and missing bats Monday afternoon. Coleman gave up all four runs in the second but walked five in six innings of work. The five free passes was a season-high for Coleman … in both the big leagues and down on the farm.

Coleman settled down after allowing eight hits and three walks (11 total baserunners) in three-plus innings. Coleman kept his team in the game but showed once again that this is his second full year in pro ball. Coleman’s lack of fundamentals was on full display as well. Coleman failed to get a bunt down twice, that is four in his last two starts, and uncorked a pair of wild pitches … including a botched pitch out attempt in the sixth. Coleman received a no decision after allowing four runs on eight hits with five walks and two strikeouts on 117 pitches, 60 for strikes.

With Monday’s win, the Cubs improved to 5-8 versus Houston this year. Monday also marked the Cubs’ 60th win of the season (60-78), still 18 games below the mediocre mark …

The Cubs continued to play hard under Mike Quade and did a nice job of bouncing back from Sunday’s pounding after being down early …

The Astros took a big lead in the second inning. Chris Johnson launched his seventh homer of the season, a solo shot to left center on a 1-1 pitch from Coleman. Coleman struck out Brian Bogusevic but walked Matt Downs.

Jason Castro singled to left … and under Alfonso Soriano’s legs. Soriano’s error allowed both runners to advance 90′. Coleman retired Wandy Rodriguez on a pop out to center for the second out.

With Michael Bourn at the plate, Coleman threw a breaking ball in the dirt that Soto could not keep in front of him. Downs scored as Soto threw the ball wild to the plate … 2-0 Astros. Bourn ended up working a walk.

Jeff Keppinger singled to center on a 3-1 pitch. Jason Castro scored … 3-0 Astros. Bourn advanced to third and scored on a single to left center by Hunter Pence.

Coleman retired Carlos Lee to end the inning. But after 51 pitches, four runs and Wandy Rodriguez on the mound … the game appeared over.

Coleman survived the third without allowing the Astros to tack on. Coleman gave up two more hits and a walk in the third but induced a 1-6-3 double play off the bat of Bogusevic.

Darwin Barney led off the third with an infield single to the hole at second. After Coleman failed to advance him to second, Jeff Baker flied out to left. Blake DeWitt stepped in and looked at a ball in the dirt on the first pitch. Barney advanced to second and scored on an infield single to the hole at second. Carlos Lee made a nice diving stop but his throw was behind Rodriguez. Wandy dropped the ball and Barney scored all the way from second … 4-1 Astros.

Marlon Byrd got his team a little closer with a two-run homer to left center. Byrd’s 12th of the year and first since August 11 cut the Astros lead to 4-3.

Michael Bourn led off the fourth with a double to right center. Byrd took an excellent route to the ball and held Bourn to a double. Keppinger sacrificed Bourn to third.

Hunter Pence hit a grounder to third. Bourn broke for the plate and Baker threw home. Soto held his ground and held onto the ball as Bourn tried to run over him. Coleman struck out Lee to end the inning.

Darwin Barney led off the fifth with his second hit of the game. After Coleman failed to advance him to second, Jeff Baker ripped a double into the corner in left. Barney scored all the way from first … game tied at four.

Monday was the first time in eight starts Wandy Rodriguez had allowed three or more runs in a single start.

Blake DeWitt flied out to center for the second out. After a passed ball advanced Baker to third, Marlon Byrd struck out swinging to end the inning.

Coleman labored through the sixth and turned the game over to Marcos Mateo in the seventh.

Mateo and Andrew Cashner kept the Astros off the board and set it up for Geovany Soto.

Monday was a good day for the Chicago Cubs.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Carlos Silva will make his return to the mound Tuesday in game two against Nelson Figueroa.

Quote of the Day

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