Soriano Swings, Dempster Pitches … Cubs Win! – Cubs 5 Padres 2

Game One Hundred Fifty-Seven – Cubs 5 Padres 2
WP – Ryan Dempster (15-11) LP – Mat Latos (14-9) Save – Carlos Marmol (36)

wflag.jpgThe Cubs continued being a thorn in the Padres side on Tuesday night. Q’s crew won for the second night in a row and put the Padres hope for the post-season on even thinner ice. The Cubs posted their eighth straight win on the road and improved to 14-3 under Mike Quade outside of Wrigley Field.

Ryan Dempster picked up his 15th win of the season … the second time in three seasons Dempster has won at least 15 games. Dempster was very good on Tuesday night and benefited from two outstanding defensive plays from Marlon Byrd early in the game.

Dempster settled down and gave up just two runs on four hits in seven strong innings. Dempster walked two and struck out nine … and topped the 200-strikeout mark for the year in the seventh when he struck out Chris Denorfia swinging. Dempster ended his night by striking out the side after putting two on with no outs. Dempster used a Marmol-esque slider to get out of the jam.

Dempster’s only mistake came in the bottom of the fifth. After issuing his first free pass of the game, Dempster served up a two-run homer to Nick Hundley that tied the game at two. Dempster has allowed 24 longballs this season, ten more than he did in 2008, and the second highest total of his career … 30 home runs were hit off Ryan Dempster in 2000.

The Cubs offense took advantage of two Padre miscues in the fifth inning and scored two unearned runs. Kosuke Fukudome drove in the game’s first run with a ringing double to left center. The Cubs second run scored on an infield single by Starlin Castro and a throwing error by Miguel Tejada.

Alfonso Soriano was the difference in Tuesday’s game. Soriano had hit just four homers in August and September combined before Tuesday … and he hit two longballs and drove in three of the Cubs five runs.

Soriano hit his first homer since September 3 (57 at bats) in the top of the sixth. Soriano’s two-run shot off Mat Latos broke up a 2-2 tie. Soriano then hit his second of the night off Mike Adams in the eighth. Soriano’s 24th of the season tied him with Aramis Ramirez for the team lead. Tuesday was Soriano’s third multi-homer game of the year (first since June 29th against the Pirates) and the 26th of his career.

Starlin Castro (2-for-5) put together his 38th multi-hit game of the season, the most for a Cubs’ rookie since Mark Grace compiled 41 in 1988, and raised his batting average back above the .300 mark (.301).

Q’s pen continued their impressive work against the Padres. Andrew Cashner sat down the top of the Padres lineup in the eighth, Cashner struck out Adrian Gonzalez on a 100 MPH fastball to end the inning.

Carlos Marmol picked up his 36th save of the season, 15th in a row, with a solid ninth.

The Cubs improved to 21-11 under Mike Quade … 72-85 on the season, 13 below with five game left to play.

For the second night in a row Cubs pitching held the Padres to just four hits … and the offense came up with the big hit when they needed it.

The Cubs broke through in the top of the fifth. Koyie Hill dropped a bunt to the third base side of the mound. Mat Latos fielded the bunt but bobbled it for an error. Ryan Dempster then sacrificed Hill to second with a perfect bunt up the first baseline.

Kosuke Fukudome lined a double into left center on a 1-1 pitch. Hill scored, 1-0 Cubs.

The Padres committed their second error of the inning when Miguel Tejada threw a ball into the Friars dugout. Starlin Castro hit a grounder up the middle that Tejada should have put in his back pocket but the veteran shortstop tried to make something out of nothing. Fukudome scored on the error … 2-0 Cubs.

With Castro at second, Marlon Byrd reached for the third time in as many at bats … an infield single to Chase Headley at third. With Castro at third and Byrd at first, Aramis Ramirez struck out swinging to end the inning.

After the offense finally put runs on the board, Ryan Dempster lost his command in the bottom of the fifth. Matt Stairs struck out to start the inning then Dempster walked Chase Headley. Dempster fell behind Nick Hundley 3-0 before throwing two strikes … but the Padres catcher did not miss his next pitch. Hundley tied the game at two with a long homer over the wall in left.

The Padres first two runs of the series were the first runs allowed by Dempster on the road since August 15.

Chris Denorfia followed Hundley’s blast with a single to right. Mat Latos failed to get the bunt down and struck out. David Eckstein grounded out to third to end the inning.

The Cubs took the lead right back in the top of the sixth.

Xavier Nady led off with a single to center on a 2-2 pitch. Alfonso Soriano followed with a long homer to left center … his first longball since September 3 gave the Cubs a 4-2 lead.

Dempster put together a shut down inning in the bottom of the sixth. Tejada and Gonzalez grounded out to short and Ludwick struck out swinging to end the inning.

Dempster took the hill to start the seventh after throwing only 87 pitches in the first six innings. Matt Stairs greeted Dempster with a ground rule double to left center … on the first pitch of the inning. Dempster walked Chase Headley on four pitches, Dempster’s second free pass of the game.

Dempster focused and struck out Nick Hundley and Chris Denorfia swinging … the Denorfia swing and miss with the 200th of the year for Ryan Dempster.

Yorvit Torrealba hit for Ernesto Frieri and got ahead 3-1 before looking at strike two. On a 3-2 pitch, Dempster struck out Torrealba on a Marmol-esque slider to end the inning.

Dempster got out of the jam by striking out the side … his seventh, eighth and ninth of the game.

Alfonso Soriano hit his second longball of the night to start the eighth … just the second homer allowed by Mike Adams all season. Soriano got just enough of a 3-2 pitch to put it out of the reach of Matt Stairs in left.

Andrew Cashner pitched an impressive eighth inning. Cashner retired Eckstein, Tejada and Gonzalez in order. Cashner made Gonzalez look bad on a swing and a miss on a 100 MPH fastball to end the inning.

Again … nothing will ever make up for 1984, but every win the Cubs get during this series will make it harder for the Padres to make the post-season this year.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Randy Wells will face Chris Young in game three Wednesday night.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax