Game One Hundred Forty-Six – Cubs 7 Cardinals 3
WP – Carlos Zambrano (9-6) LP – Chris Carpenter (15-7) Save – Carlos Marmol (31)
The last time a Cubs team swept a three-game series in St. Louis was June 10-12, 1988 … and the winning pitcher in the third game 22 years ago was none other than Greg Maddux. Twenty-two years and three months later, Carlos Zambrano picked up the victory in the third game and improved to 6-0 since returning to the rotation.
Carlos Zambrano was not as sharp as he was in Milwaukee but was good enough to pick up the win. Zambrano allowed only two runs, one earned, on four hits in six innings. Zambrano walked three, struck out three and hit a batter. Zambrano equaled his win total from 2009 with his ninth win of the lost season.
The Cardinals took a 2-1 lead into the top of the seventh and with Chris Carpenter on the mound, the game appeared over … but that all changed with one swing from Tyler Colvin.
Tyler Colvin gave the Cubs a 4-2 lead with his 20th longball of the year … the second off Chris Carpenter. Colvin launched a 3-2 offering from the Cardinals’ ace and the Cubs never looked back.
Tyler Colvin became just the fourth rookie in Cubs history to hit at least 20 homers in his first season. Colvin joined Billy Williams, Geovany Soto and Walt Moryn (1956) as the only Cubs to ever accomplish the feat.
Micah Hoffpauir added a pinch-hit RBI double in the four-run seventh. Aramis Ramirez gave the Cubs a little breathing room with his 23rd dinger of the season. With Marlon Byrd along for the ride, Ramirez tacked on a pair in the eighth.
The Cardinals loaded the bases in the ninth after Carlos Marmol replaced Andrew Cashner and hit Albert Pujols. But Marmol struck out Matt Holliday and Colby Rasmus swinging to end the game.
The Cubs completed the improbable three-game sweep Wednesday night and have won five in a row in St. Louis for the first time since 1983. When the pitching match-ups were announced over the weekend, who would have thought Jeff Samardzija, Randy Wells and Carlos Zambrano would out pitch Jamie Garcia, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter.
The Cubs pitching staff has been very good on their current trip. After holding the Brewers to two runs in three games, the Cubs gave up just six runs, five earned, in three games in St. Louis.
With Wednesday’s win, the Cubs clinched the season series against the Cardinals (8-4 with three remaining next weekend at Wrigley) and finished the year at Busch with a 5-1 record. The Cubs improved to 14-7 under Mike Quade and are 5-1 on their nine-game road trip (65-81, 16 games under .500) …
The Cubs manufactured a run in the top of the third. Koyie Hill led off with a single to center. With Zambrano at the plate, Mike Quade called for a hit and run. Hill took off for second as Zambrano swung and missed at Carpenter’s offering. Yadier Molina airmailed his throw and Hill ended up with a stolen base … just the second of his career and first since August 16, 2004.
Zambrano delivered a groundout to first. His productive out advanced Hill to third. Blake DeWitt hit a deep fly to center on a 2-2 pitch. Hill tagged and scored … 1-0 Cubs.
Zambrano continued his rough start by walking Skip Schumaker to start the bottom of the third. Randy Winn ripped the first pitch into left center. With runners on first and second with no outs, Albert Pujols popped out to Darwin Barney.
Z threw a first pitch strike to Matt Holliday then the Cardinals’ left fielder hit a tailor made 5-4-3 double play ball to Ramirez. Aramis took his sweet time getting the ball out of his glove then threw to the first base side of second. DeWitt gloved the ball but dropped it and was credited with the error.
Aramis Ramirez continues to live up to his reputation.
With the bases loaded and one out, Colby Rasmus hit a sinking liner to left. Alfonso Soriano made a running catch but took four steps before he threw to the plate. Skip Schumaker slid in just ahead of the throw … game tied at one.
Felipe Lopez looked at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning
Zambrano got out of his self imposed jam three times in the third.
The Cardinals took, what looked like a commanding, lead in the bottom of the sixth. Colby Rasmus doubled to right to start the inning. Only the fourth hit off Zambrano. Felipe Lopez sacrificed him to third and he scored on a sac fly to right by Yadier Molina … 2-1 Cardinals and their first lead of the series.
Chris Carpenter had allowed only one run on two hits in six innings … that all changed in the seventh.
Aramis Ramirez doubled to right to start the inning. Xavier Nady reached on an infield single to third … and indecision by Felipe Lopez. Nady hit a weak grounder to third. Lopez charged and for some reason looked at third, instead of getting the sure out at first.
With runners on first and third with no outs, Alfonso Soriano struck out swinging.
Tyler Colvin fell behind 1-2 but worked the count full before launching his 20th homer of the season. Colvin’s three-run shot gave the Cubs a 4-2 lead.
Koyie Hill followed with his second hit of the game, a double off the wall in right center. Micah Hoffpauir hit for Zambrano and doubled down the right field line. Hill scored and gave the Cubs a 5-2 lead.
Chris Carpenter turned the game over to Jason Motte. Carpenter tweeked his hamstring backing up the throw from right on Hoffpauir’s double. After a wild pitch advanced Hoffpauir to third, Blake DeWitt and Darwin Barney struck out swinging to end the inning.
Scott Maine started the bottom of the seventh and retired Nick Stavinoha and Skip Schumaker … but Randy Winn reached on a long single to right center. Marlon Byrd did an excellent job of cutting the ball off in the gap.
Mike Quade brought in Marcos Mateo to face Albert Pujols. Mateo was star-struck and walked Pujols on four pitches. Matt Holliday doubled into the corner in right. Winn scored, 5-3 Cubs. Quade brought in James Russell to face Colby Rasmus, with the tying runs in scoring position.
Russell served up a homer to Rasmus on Tuesday night … but struck him out on Wednesday to end the inning.
Following a double to right by Marlon Byrd, Aramis Ramirez made it 7-3 with his 23rd homer of the year in the eighth.
The Cardinals loaded the bases in the ninth after back-to-back one-out singles by Skip Schumaker and Randy Winn. Mike Quade made a double switch, brought in Carlos Marmol for Andrew Cashner and inserted Starlin Castro at short.
Marmol hit Pujols to load the bases with one out … but Marmol struck out Matt Holliday and Colby Rasmus to end the game.
It is always a good day when the Cubs beat the Cardinals … but it is a GREAT day when they sweep the Redbirds.
The Cubs will spend one of their last two off days of the season in Miami on Thursday. Ryan Dempster will face rookie Alex Sanabia in the first of three against the Fish on Friday night.