Game Twenty – Cubs 10 Dodgers 8
WP – Jeff Samardzija (2-0) LP – Matt Guerrier (1-1, BS 1) Save – Carlos Marmol (5)
Saturday afternoon was anything but boring at Wrigley Field. The Cubs jumped out to an early lead against Ted Lilly just to see Ryan Dempster blow it … and then some. The Cubs trailed 8-5 going into the bottom of the eighth in large part to another horrible outing by Ryan Dempster.
Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with three strikeouts) led off the eighth with what appeared to be just a late inning single. Reed Johnson (2-for-3 with a walk, a RBI and a run scored) dropped a bunt to third that Casey Blake could not make a play on. Kosuke Fukudome hit for Jeff Samardzija and walked to load the bases.
Starlin Castro stepped in and ripped a 0-1 pitch into right center. Soriano and Johnson scored with Fukudome advancing to third on the play. Darwin Barney then hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice. Fukudome scored and the game was tied at eight.
After a two-out bloop single by Aramis Ramirez, Don Mattingly went to his pen for Blake Hawksworth. Jeff Baker greeted the former Cardinal by ripping his first pitch into right center. Barney and Ramirez scored … 10-8 Cubs.
Carlos Marmol retired three of the four batters he faced in the ninth and picked up his fifth save of the season.
The Cubs never quit in a game that should have been over well before the eighth inning.
Starlin Castro (4-for-5 with a double, two runs scored, a stolen base and three RBI) and Darwin Barney (3-for-5 with a double, two runs scored, a stolen base and three RBI) not only sparked the Cubs offense but made several big plays in the field. Castro and Barney combined for seven of the Cubs’ 16 hits, scored four of the ten runs and drove in the other six. For as mediocre as Q’s squad has been, where would his team be without them?
Ryan Dempster put together his worst outing of the young season … and that is saying a lot. For the fourth time in five starts Dempster was given a lead and could not hold on to it. The Cubs needed a long, quality outing from Dempster and he could not deliver.
Ryan Dempster lasted just 5 2/3 innings and gave up a season-high seven runs on nine hits with three walks and three strikeouts. The Cubs staked Dempster to a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth before he started serving up longballs.
Dempster gave up six runs (three in the fifth and sixth … four on three home runs) before departing with the game tied at five. Sean Marshall surrendered the two-run RBI double to Andre Ethier that gave the Dodgers a two-run lead and closed the book on Dempster.
Ryan Dempster threw 103 pitches, 64 for strikes, and has yet to notch a quality start this season. Dempster’s command issues have become a problem but not as big an issue as the eight home runs he’s served up in 30 2/3 innings this season … all three of the Dodgers’ homers Saturday was hit off Ryan Dempster.
Jeff Samardzija put together another solid outing. Samardzija pitched a perfect 1 1/3 innings in relief of Sean Marshall. Samardzija struck out the side in the eighth (Miles, Blake and Ethier) and earned his second victory of the season.
The Cubs were aggressive on the bases Saturday afternoon. Q’s squad swiped three bags and was awarded a fourth after James Loney interfered with Darwin Barney. Barney and Byrd even executed a double steal in the third.
Ted Lilly made his return to Wrigley and the first start of his career against the Cubs. Lilly was not good and left the game in the fifth with the Dodgers down 5-1. Lilly allowed five runs on 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings with a walk and three strikeouts.
With Saturday’s win the Cubs evened their record at 10 wins and 10 loses. The Cubs are the first team in Major League history to begin a season with ten consecutive stops at the .500-mark. Ryan Dempster put himself into a jam in the first inning but wiggled his way out of trouble. Casey Blake reached on a bunt single to Dempster that the Cubs pitcher misplayed. Andre Ethier worked a walk and the Dodgers had two on with one out with Matt Kemp coming to the plate.
Matt Kemp ended up hitting a soft liner to short on a 0-2 pitch. Starlin Castro appeared to drop the ball … and that is what the umps ruled. Kemp was out on the liner to short for the second out of the inning.
Castro should have caught the ball and turned two as Blake was off the bag but Castro appeared to over think the play.
Jerry Sands grounded out to second to end the inning … and Castro’s decision only cost Dempster three pitches. Dempster threw 17 pitches, 12 for strikes, in the first inning.
The Cubs came out swinging against Ted Lilly but managed only one run after three straight hits to start the inning.
Starlin Castro worked the count to 3-2 before hitting a bullet off the top of the wall in left. Jerry Sands played the ball perfectly and threw out Castro at second. Castro ran hard out of the box.
Darwin Barney hit a fly into left center on a 1-1 pitch that Matt Kemp misplayed. The ball rolled all the way to the wall and Barney reached second with a stand-up double. Marlon Byrd blooped a single into right. Barney held at third with one out.
Aramis Ramirez gave the Cubs a one-run lead with a sacrifice fly into center. Barney tagged and scored while Byrd took second on the throw home. Jeff Baker flied out to right center on a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.
Dempster kept the Dodgers off the board in the second … but gave them a run in the third.
Casey Blake worked a one-out walk in the third, Dempster’s second free pass of the game. Andre Ethier hit a soft grounder to second. Barney made sure of one as Blake advanced to second on the productive out.
Matt Kemp then fisted a 1-1 offering from Dempster into right and plated Blake with the tying run. Dempster struck out Jerry Sands swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning. After three Dempster’s pitch count stood at 56 … 36 for strikes.
The Cubs caught a break in the third but could not take advantage. Starlin Castro hit a high pop fly into left on a 2-2 pitch. Jerry Sands positioned himself to make a routine catch but lost the ball in the sun. To Castro’s credit he ran out of the box and slid into second with a gift double.
With Barney at the plate, Lilly uncorked a wild pitch. Castro took third and scored on a single to right. Barney’s RBI gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.
Marlon Byrd singled to left and the Cubs had runners on first and second with one out.
On a 1-0 pitch to Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs pulled off a double steal. Barney swiped third and Byrd followed with a steal of second. Ramirez ended up swinging and missing on a 2-2 pitch that was well inside for the second out.
With runners on second and third, Jeff Baker popped out to second to end the inning.
The Cubs took the lead but let their old teammate off the hook in the third.
Geovany Soto led off the bottom of the fourth with a single to left on a 1-2 offering from Lilly. Alfonso Soriano struck out for the second time against Lilly, in the fourth he swung and missed at a 0-2 offering.
Reed Johnson ripped a 0-1 pitch from Lilly into the gap in right center. Soto scored all the way from first. Johnson stopped at second but saw Matt Kemp’s relay throw get away from Jamey Carroll. Johnson took third on the error.
Ryan Dempster grounded out first for the second out of the inning.
Starlin Castro put together another impressive at bat. Castro laid off a 1-2 pitch that a few of the Cubs veterans could not earlier in the game. Castro then ripped Lilly’s 2-2 offering into left. Johnson scored and gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead.
With Barney at the plate, Lilly appeared to pick Castro off at first but Castro put his head down and beat Loney’s throw to second. Barney then delivered a single into right. Castro scored and the Cubs took what appeared to be a commanding 5-1 lead.
Lilly appeared to pick off Barney from first but the Cubs second baseman got caught in a run down and Loney kept Barney from getting back to first. Barney was awarded second on Loney’s obstruction. Marlon Byrd predictably grounded out to short to end the inning.
Ryan Dempster took the hill in the fifth with a 5-1 lead … but it quickly evaporated.
Aaron Miles singled to left on Dempster’s first pitch. Casey Blake ripped a 1-1 pitch into the bleachers in left and cut the Cubs lead to 5-3. Dempster retired Ethier on a ground out to first.
Matt Kemp made it 5-4 with a long homer to left center on a 2-0 offering. Dempster retired Sands and Loney but the damage had been done and the writing was on the wall.
The Cubs loaded the bases and chased Ted Lilly from the game in the top of the fifth. Jeff Baker singled to center to chase Lilly then Mike MacDougal walked Geovany Soto. Soriano struck out for the third time in the game.
Reed Johnson walked to load the bases. In a one-run game, Quade let Dempster hit with the bases loaded and two outs. Dempster struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
The Dodgers exploded in the sixth for three more runs and turned another ugly outing by Dempster into an embarrassing one.
Rod Barajas led off the sixth with a home run to left center that tied the game at five. Barajas’ homer was the third consecutive hit off Dempster that left the park.
With one out and the game tied at five, Tony Gwynn, Jr. hit a 3-1 pitch into left. Soriano tried to make a diving catch. The ball got past him and Gwynn ended up at third with the go ahead run. Aaron Miles grounded out to short, Castro kept Gwynn at third and threw to first for the second out.
Dempster walked Casey Blake to end his afternoon. Dempster departed after throwing 103 pitches, 63 for strikes … 16 in the sixth alone, only six for strikes.
Sean Marshall came in and could not get out of the jam. Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to 20 games with a double to right. Blake was running on the play and scored the Dodgers’ seventh run of the game. Marshall struck out Matt Kemp to end the inning.
Ryan Dempster gave up seven runs, all earned, on nine hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Dempster served up three more home runs and once again let his team down.
The Dodgers tacked on another run in the seventh. Jerry Sands singled to left on a 0-2 offering from Marshall. Sands stole second and advanced to third when Soto’s throw ended up in centerfield. Rod Barajas put the ball in play and grounded to short. Castro threw home and Soto could not scoop and hold onto the ball in the dirt … 8-5 Dodgers.
To the Cubs credit they never quit and mounted a huge comeback in the eighth … and it all started on a 0-2 single to center by Alfonso Soriano.
Matt Guerrier left a 0-2 pitch up and out over the plate. Soriano reached out and dropped the ball into center. Reed Johnson ended up dropping a bunt down on a 1-1 offering. Blake could not make a throw and the Cubs had two on with no outs down by a score of 8-5.
Kosuke Fukudome hit for Jeff Samardzija and worked a walk. With the bases loaded and no outs, Starlin Castro stepped to the plate. Castro ripped a 0-1 pitch to right center (just to the right of straight away center) and Castro’s fourth hit of the game cut the Dodgers lead to 8-7.
With runners on first and third with no outs, Darwin Barney hit a grounder to the hole at short. Fukudome scored the tying run on what should have been a 6-4-3 double play … but Aaron Miles could not get the ball out of his glove. Barney reached first and advanced to second on a two-out bloop single to left off the bat of Aramis Ramirez.
Don Mattingly went to his pen and brought in Blake Hawksworth to face Jeff Baker.
Baker lined Hawksworth’s first pitch into right center. The ball rolled all the way to the wall. Barney scored easily and Ramirez lumbered around the bases … two runs scored on Baker’s double. 10-8 Cubs and Carlos Marmol picked up his fifth save of the season with a walk and a strikeout in the four batters he faced in the ninth.
The Cubs never quit and they won the game. With that said, in order for the Cubs to leave the .500-mark in their rearview mirror, Ryan Dempster must put his horrible start behind him and lead the pitching staff … both on and off the field.
Carlos Zambrano will face Hiroki Kuroda in the rubber game on Easter Sunday.