Game Ten – Cubs 5 Astros 4
WP – Ryan Dempster (1-2) LP – Nelson Figueroa (0-2) Save – Carlos Marmol (4)
The Cubs took control of Monday’s game in the first four innings. Q’s squad scored five runs, all with two outs, and Ryan Dempster was seemingly in complete command. Dempster held the Astros in check through six innings, just one run allowed, and at one point Dempster struck out five in a row.
An error by Aramis Ramirez extended the sixth and caused Ryan Dempster to run up his pitch count. Due to the bullpen day Tuesday, Mike Quade left Dempster in too long and he started serving up longballs in his final inning. The Astros knocked Dempster out in the seventh after he gave up three runs on two home runs and what seemed like a comfortable 5-1 lead turned into another close game.
Dempster allowed four runs, all earned, on six hits with three walks and nine strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. Dempster threw 115 pitches, 69 for strikes.
Q’s pen did an excellent job in relief of Ryan Dempster. John Grabow worked his way in and out of trouble without allowing a run. Sean Marshall did his job in the eighth and Carlos Marmol picked up a four-out save.
The Cubs offense was very effective against Nelson Figueroa … and non-existent against the Astros’ pen. The Cubs did not record a hit after Marlon Byrd’s RBI single in the fourth inning.
Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney set the table early in the game. Castro hit leadoff for the second time and put together another solid game at the plate. Castro was 3-for-5 and scored three of the Cubs five runs. Castro also swiped a bag in the fourth, the Cubs first stolen base of the year.
Darwin Barney was excellent hitting out of the two-hole. Barney reached base four times in five trips to the plate. Barney finished 2-for-3 with a triple, a RBI, two walks and two runs scored.
Starlin and Darwin were a combined 5-for-8 with a triple, a stolen base, two walks, a RBI and five runs scored.
Marlon Byrd drove in two of the Cubs five runs with a 2-for-5 night … but it was a double in the first inning by Alfonso Soriano that seemed to relax the offense. Soriano came through with a two-out, two-run double that gave the Cubs an early lead.
With Monday’s win, the Cubs improved to 5-5 on the young season (2-2 in one run games) … nine of the Cubs ten games have been decided by three runs or less. Starlin Castro led off the game with a single to center on a 1-2 pitch. Darwin Barney then worked a walk. The table setters did their job and got on base to start the game.
Marlon Byrd struck out swinging and Aramis Ramirez popped out to short … the Cubs were 2-for their last 19 at that point with runners in scoring position. Carlos Pena walked to load the bases.
Alfonso Soriano blooped Nelson Figueroa’s first pitch into right. Castro and Barney scored … 2-0 Cubs on Soriano’s first double of the year. Tyler Colvin grounded out to second to end the inning.
After the top of the first, the Cubs were 3-for their last 21 with runners in scoring position.
Ryan Dempster retired the Astros in order in the first on just 12 pitches, eight for strikes.
Starlin Castro jump-started the offense again in the second. Castro reached on a two-out bloop single to left center. Castro broke for second on a 0-1 pitch to Barney … and the Cubs’ second baseman deposited the ball into left center. Castro scored on Barney’s first big league triple.
The Cubs took a 4-0 lead on a single to right by Marlon Byrd. Aramis Ramirez grounded out to short to end the inning.
Ryan Dempster got into a little trouble in the bottom of the second after giving up a leadoff single to Carlos Lee. Dempster then walked Brett Wallace. With runners on first and second with no outs, Chris Johnson hit a grounder to first, Pena fielded, bobbled and had to settle for the out at first. Both runners advanced on the play.
Joe Inglett struck out swinging and Humberto Quintero grounded out to first on a 3-1 pitch to end the inning.
After the Cubs went down in order in the top of the third, Dempster struck out the side in the home half of the inning.
Starlin Castro started the offense again in the fourth … and once again with two outs.
Castro singled to left on a 0-1 pitch. With Barney at the plate, Castro stole second base on a 2-1 pitch … the Cubs first stolen base of the season. Barney then reached on an infield single to third. Castro advanced to third on the play.
Marlon Byrd worked the count to 3-2 before hitting a single back up the middle. Castro scored and gave the Cubs a 5-0 lead. Barney advanced to third on the play.
With Aramis Ramirez at the plate, Nelson Figueroa uncorked a wild pitch. The ball bounced right back to Quintero, Barney was not able to scored but Byrd took second on the miscue. Ramirez hit a rocket to the hole at short, Chris Johnson made an excellent diving stop and threw out Ramirez to end the inning.
Ryan Dempster struck out the first two batters he faced in the fourth … five strikeouts in a row for Dempster. Brett Wallace grounded out to first to end the inning.
The Astros broke through in the bottom of the fifth. Chris Johnson led off with a single to right … Houston’s second hit of the game.
Tyler Colvin made an excellent over the shoulder running catch to take a hit away from Joe Inglett. Humberto Quintero grounded out to third for the second out. With Johnson at third, Matt Downs hit for Enerio Del Rosario and blooped a single into right. Downs broke his bat but got just enough to put the ball in play and score the runner from third.
Ryan Dempster struck out Michael Bourn on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
After five complete, the Cubs led 5-1.
The Cubs defense struck again in the bottom of the sixth. Dempster retired Angel Sanchez on a ground out to second. Hunter Pence hit a grounder to Ramirez at third. Aramis threw low, Pena could not scoop and Pence reached on the error.
Ryan Dempster struck out Carlos Lee looking but walked Brett Wallace on five pitches.
Chris Johnson put together an excellent at bat and worked a walk on the tenth pitch of the at bat. With the bases loaded, Joe Inglett grounded out to second on the first pitch. Inning over but Dempster’s pitch count elevated to 101 after the error and the inability to put Johnson away.
Dempster took the hill to start the seventh … and the extra work in the sixth cost the Cubs. Dempster struck out Humberto Quintero but gave up a pinch-hit homer to Bill Hall. Hall lined a 1-1 pitch off the foul pole down the right field line.
Quade left Dempster in to face Michael Bourn and the Astros’ leadoff man hit a 1-1 pitch off the top of the wall in right. The ruling on the field was a double, the umps reviewed and the call stood.
With the Cubs up 5-2, Dempster stayed in to face Angel Sanchez and he served up a 1-0 pitch to the Astros’ shortstop. Sanchez deposited the ball into the Crawford Boxes for the first homer of his career.
Dempster left after 115 pitches.
For some reason Mike Quade brought John Grabow into face Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee. Grabow walked Pence on the eighth pitch of the at bat. Carlos Lee singled to left and put the tying run on second base.
Brett Wallace flied out to left on a 1-2 pitch for the second out … and Chris Johnson grounded out to second to end the inning.
After a shaky start, Grabow did his job and preserved the one-run lead.
The Cubs did nothing in the top of the eighth … and the Astros went back to work in the bottom of the inning.
Joe Inglett led off with a bloop single to right off of a leaping Darwin Barney. Humberto Quintero bunted Inglett to second. Bill Hall then reached on a single off Ramirez’s glove. Aramis dove and the ball deflected off his glove into shallow left. Inglett advanced to third.
With runners on first and third with one out, Michael Bourn struck out.
Quade went to his pen and brought in Carlos Marmol to face Angel Sanchez.
Marmol missed the zone on his first two pitches … but then threw three that Sanchez could not make contact on. Sanchez struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Astros’ pen completed their domination of the Cubs offense. Brandon Lyon retired the Cubs in order in the ninth. The Cubs managed zero hits (four walks) against the Astros’ pen Monday night.
Carlos Marmol struck out Hunter Pence to start the inning and retired Carlos Lee on a line drive to Starlin Castro. Brett Wallace put together an impressive at bat and singled to right on Marmol’s eighth pitch.
Jason Bourgeois ran for Wallace and stole second on a 2-1 pitch to Jason Michaels. Marmol ended up walking Michaels to put the winning run on first.
With runners on first and second with two outs, Joe Inglett looked at strike three to end the game.
Carlos Marmol picked up his first four-out save of the young season. It took Marmol 31 pitches to earn his fourth save of the season.
It’s never easy … that’s the way of life for the Chicago Cubs.
James Russell and the bullpen will face Brett Myers in game two of three Tuesday night.