Game Four – Cubs 4 Diamondbacks 1
WP – Randy Wells (1-0) LP – Joe Saunders (0-1) Save – Carlos Marmol (2)
If the first four games are any indication, the Cubs will have little room for error this season. Q’s crew won for the second time in Two Thousand Eleven in the fourth game decided by three runs or less.
In front of the smallest crowd at Wrigley since 2002, the Cubs evened their record at 2-2 behind a solid start by Randy Wells, two big hits by Alfonso Soriano, a 2-for-4 effort from Aramis Ramirez, a RBI double by Geovany Soto and Carlos Pena’s game winning sacrifice fly.
Monday began on a sour note for Randy Wells. Willie Bloomquist ripped Wells’ fourth pitch of the game into the bleachers in left and quickly put Arizona up 1-0. Wells settled down after the Bloomquist homer and managed the game … with a little help from his defense and Geovany Soto.
Wells became the first Cubs’ starter to pickup a win this season after completing six innings and allowing just the single run. The D’Backs offense recorded six hits and walked four times against Wells but could not come up with the big hit when they needed it. Wells struck out six and improved to 3-0 in his career against Arizona.
Geovany Soto threw out two base runners that seemed to change the momentum of two different innings. Soto was solid again behind the plate and added a RBI double in the eighth.
Alfonso Soriano hit his second home run in as many games Monday. Soriano’s solo shot tied the game at one in the third. Soriano added a two-out opposite field RBI single in the eighth that drove in the Cubs fourth and final run of the game.
Carlos Pena recorded his first game winning RBI in a Cubs’ uniform before leaving the game in the eighth inning. Pena hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth that broke up the 1-1 tie. Pena was lifted in the eighth after going to Mike Quade and questioning if he could put together a good at bat after spraining his thumb. Quade decided to lift Pena for Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker finished the game at first. Pena is listed as day-to-day.
Pena turned in another fine defensive play in the seventh that kept the leadoff hitter off base in a one-run game.
Mike Quade pretty much emptied his bullpen Monday afternoon. Sean Marshall, Marcos Mateo and John Grabow each recorded an out in the seventh. Kerry Wood worked around an error by Starlin Castro and out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth … and Carlos Marmol survived a shaky start in the ninth and earned his second save of the season.
Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol pitched in their third straight game and will likely be unavailable Tuesday.
It wasn’t pretty but the Cubs pen allowed just two hits and two walks, one intentional, over the final three innings … and for the third time in four games, no runs.
To Wells credit, he settled down and allowed just four other hits in six innings.
Wells retired Justin Upton on a fly out to left, struck out Russell Branyan and got the call on a check swing on a 3-2 pitch to Chris Young to end the inning.
Miguel Montero led off the second with a single to right. But Montero tried to advance on a ball in the dirt. Soto threw him out at second and Wells ended up facing the minimum in the second.
Joe Saunders made quick work of the Cubs offense in the first and second innings.
After Randy Wells retired Arizona in order in the third, Alfonso Soriano tied the game at one with the Cubs first hit of the game … a solo homer that ended up in the bleachers in left. Saunders settled down and retired the next three batters he faced in the third.
Wells got into trouble in the fourth by issuing back-to-back walks to Justin Upton and Russell Branyan to start the inning … but in between the two free passes, Soto threw out Upton trying to steal second, which had a big impact on the inning.
Chris Young followed Branyan’s walk with a single to center. With runners on first and second with one out, Miguel Montero hit into a 4-6-3 inning ending double play.
The Cubs took the lead for good in the home half of the fourth. Marlon Byrd reached on an infield single. Aramis Ramirez singled to right and Geovany Soto walked to load the bases with one out.
Carlos Pena hit a sac fly into right on a 1-1 pitch … Byrd tagged and scored the go ahead run. Aramis Ramirez did not tag and it could have cost the Cubs a run.
A wild pitch with Soriano at the plate advanced Ramirez and Soto ninety feet, but Soriano lined out to short to end the inning.
At the end of four, the Cubs led 2-1.
Randy Wells pitched around two more walks in the fifth … and got away with giving up a pair of singles in the sixth.
Wells threw 99 pitches in his first outing of the season, 59 for strikes, and put his team in position to win the game.
Mike Quade used three of his relievers to get three outs in the seventh as his offense could not manage anything against Kam Mickolio.
Kerry Wood took over in the eighth and found himself in trouble after just one batter. Justin Upton hit a routine grounder to Castro. Starlin hesitated then uncorked a wild throw to Pena at first. Upton reached on the gift.
With the Cubs up 2-1, Russell Branyan singled to right on a 1-1 pitch. Chris Young then hit a grounder back to Wood on a 2-2 pitch. Wood bobbled the ball but threw out Young at first. With runners on second and third with one out, Wood intentionally walked Miguel Montero to load the bases.
Wood struck out Ryan Roberts looking on a questionable 2-2 pitch before retiring Gerardo Parra on a flyout to left to end the inning.
The offense gave Carlos Marmol a lot of breathing room in the eighth. Aramis Ramirez doubled off the wall in left with one out. Ramirez put together a good at bat and worked the count to 3-2.
Geovany Soto gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead with a double to left on a 2-1 pitch.
Reed Johnson hit for Carlos Pena and grounded out to third … but Alfonso Soriano delivered again. Soriano went with the first pitch he saw from David Hernandez and knocked it into right. Soto scored … 4-1 Cubs.
Carlos Marmol was not perfect but was able to pick up his second save in three chances. Marmol issued a leadoff walk to Stephen Drew before finding the strike zone. Marmol struck out one and threw 19 pitches in the ninth, 10 for strikes.
The Cubs offense once again allowed the game to be close than it needed to be. Q’s offense was 2-for-7 with RISP and left seven on base.
Mike Quade used 17 players Monday afternoon to notch his second win of the season … and six of his 12 pitchers.
The Cubs reached the .500 mark again, now the next hurdle is to surpass the mediocre mark and leave it in the rearview mirror …
Andrew Cashner will make the first start of his big league career Tuesday afternoon. Kirk Gibson will send Barry Enright to the hill in his first start of the season.