Game Two – Cubs 5 Pirates 3
WP – Sean Marshall (1-0) LP – Evan Meek (0-1) Save – Carlos Marmol (1)
The Cubs could not by a hit with runners on base until the eighth. Kosuke Fukudome started the five-run rally with a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Evan Meek. Starlin Castro drove in the Cubs first run with a double to right center. The Cubs received a gift when Lyle Overbay booted a routine grounder off the bat of Marlon Byrd. Castro scored on the first error of the game by either team.
With the Cubs down 3-2, Geovany Soto put together a solid at bat that resulted in a single to right. After Carlos Pena popped out for the second out of the inning, Alfonso Soriano singled to right center that plated Byrd with the tying run. Tyler Colvin walked to load the bases.
Blake DeWitt hit for Sean Marshall and ripped the first pitch he saw into left. Soto and Soriano scored and gave the Cubs their first lead of the day.
Carlos Marmol was simply nasty in the ninth. Marmol nailed down his first save by striking out the side … two swinging and one looking.
The Cubs seemed to change their approach in the eighth after swinging early and often against Paul Maholm. Q’s offense could not get it done before the eighth. The Cubs put the leadoff runner on in five straight innings and a runner in scoring position in four straight innings before breaking through in the eighth against Evan Meek.
The bullpen figured to be one of the Cubs strengths this season and they delivered again Saturday. For the second day, Cubs relievers did not allow a run … and Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol struck out six of the 10 batters they faced, only one hitter reached over the last three innings.
Carlos Zambrano put together a solid start before leaving with cramps in his right hand in the seventh. Zambrano gave up single runs in the first and third before settling down in the fourth, fifth and sixth. Garrett Jones led off the seventh with a solo homer to right that gave the Pirates a 3-0 lead.
Zambrano left after missing on a 1-2 pitch to Ronny Cedeno in the seventh. Kerry Wood came in and eventually walked Cedeno before shutting the door on the Mighty Pirates.
Carlos Zambrano allowed three runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts in six-plus innings. Z’s first quality start of the season ended after 99 pitches, 61 for strikes.
Saturday’s come from behind victory was a team effort … from Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen to the starters to the bench, all 16 players contributed in some form to the first win of the season. Mike Quade has to be happy about the end result. The Cubs never quit and battled back to earn the win. But Quade must question their overall approach at the plate. The Cubs looked horrible against a very talented but underachieving pitcher in Paul Maholm.
The Cubs offense scattered just three hits over the first 4 2/3 innings and the team’s first extra basehit of the season was off the bat of Carlos Zambrano. Paul Maholm actually retired the Cubs in order in three different innings on 21 total pitches … seven in the first, seven in the second and seven in the fourth.
Jeff Baker became the Cubs’ first position player with an extra base knock when he doubled to start the sixth … but the problem was the lack of patience and not working the count. Aramis Ramirez earned the Cubs’ first free pass of the game in the sixth. And it was a pair of walks that led to the rally in the eighth.
The Cubs found themselves in a hole in the first inning … after another two-out RBI by the Pirates mighty offense. Z walked Jose Tabata to start the game but recovered and struck out Neil Walker swinging and retired Andrew McCutchen on a pop out to third.
Z lost his command and walked Lyle Overbay on four pitches. Pedro Alvarez made him pay … the Pirates’ third baseman ripped a two-out single to right on a 1-2 pitch. Tabata scored … 1-0 Pirates.
Ryan Doumit grounded out to first to end the inning. After one Zambrano had already thrown 25 pitches, 14 for strikes.
Paul Maholm retired the first six Cubs hitters (first and second inning) on just 14 pitches.
The Pirates tacked on in the third. Jose Tabata led off with a single to right off Z’s glove. Tabata hit a 0-1 pitch back up the middle that ricocheted off Z’s glove that ended up in right field.
The newest Cubs’ killer, Neil Walker, ripped a 2-2 pitch into right center. Walker’s third hit of the season (two doubles and a home run) drove in Tabata with the Pirates’ second run.
Z really labored after Walker’s double. Andrew McCutchen walked on four pitches but Z battled Overbay and finally struck him out swinging. Pedro Alvarez broke his bat on a 1-2 pitch and hit a grounder to Carlos Pena. Pena made a difficult play look easy and started the 3-6-1 inning ending double play. After three, Z had already thrown 57 pitches …
The Cubs first hit finally came in the third … and it was a double by Carlos Zambrano.
Z settled down after the third, but the Cubs offense could not manage anything but singles against the crafty Maholm. While the Cubs were busy swinging at everything Maholm threw to the plate, the Mighty Pirates made Zambrano work.
After five complete, the Pirates led the Cubs 2-0 … and Paul Maholm had thrown only 57 pitches (40 for strikes) while Zambrano’s pitch count stood at 80 (49 for strikes).
Jeff Baker became the Cubs’ first position player to record an extra basehit in the sixth … Baker led off with a double to left but was stranded after Starlin Castro grounded out to third and Marlon Byrd grounded out to third. Baker advanced to third on Byrd’s ground out. Aramis Ramirez put together a nice at bat and worked a walk … the Cubs first free pass of the game.
Geovany Soto, who had a rough Opening Day, grounded out to short to end the inning … on the first pitch of the at bat.
Garrett Jones made it 3-0 with a solo homer of Zambrano to start the seventh. Jones launched the first pitch he saw of the inning over the wall in right.
Carlos Zambrano left in the middle of Ronny Cedeno’s at bat. After missing on a 1-2 pitch, Z appeared to cramp up. Mark O’Neal and Mike Quade made their way to the mound and lifted Z.
Zambrano left with cramping in his right hand.
Kerry Wood inherited a 2-2 count on Ronny Cedeno. The Cubs former shortstop walked but was thrown out at second when Paul Maholm tried to sacrifice him to second. Wood struck out Jose Tabata for the second out of the inning.
Wood struck out Neil Walker looking to end the inning.
Eight of the Pirates first nine runs of the season came via extra basehits … and seven of those nine scored on three home runs.
Sean Marshall retired the Pirates in order in the top of the eighth.
Kosuke Fukudome hit for Jeff Baker to start the bottom of the eighth … and worked a walk against Evan Meek. The fifth straight inning the Cubs put the leadoff man on base.
Starlin Castro took ball one then Meek’s next offering got away from Ryan Doumit. Fukudome advanced to second on the miscue. Castro ripped a 2-1 pitch to right. The ball carried and ended up sticking in the vines. Fukudome scored the Cubs’ first run of the game on Castro’s double.
Marlon Byrd hit a grounder to first on a 1-2 pitch. Overbay could not handle the routine grounder, the ball ended up in shallow right and Castro scored all the way from second on the error … 3-2 Pirates.
With Byrd at first, Aramis Ramirez flied out to left for the first out of the inning.
Geovany Soto then singled to right on a 0-2 pitch to put the tying run in scoring position. But with runners on first and second and one down, Carlos Pena popped out to shallow center.
Alfonso Soriano stepped in and fell behind 1-2 before dropping a single into right center. Byrd scored and tied the game at three on the long single. Soto advanced to third on the play.
Clint Hurdle went to the pen and brought in Chris Resop to face Tyler Colvin.
Tyler Colvin put together another good at bat that resulted in a walk. Colvin’s free pass loaded the bases and Mike Quade went to his bench for Blake DeWitt.
DeWitt lined Resop’s first pitch into left field down the line. Soto and Soriano scored … 5-3 Cubs. With runners on second and third, Kosuke Fukudome hit for the second time in the inning and tapped back to the mound to end the inning.
Carlos Marmol struck out the side in the ninth to seal the first win of the season.
The Cubs won the game and that is all that matters. But they must change their approach and game plan against the Bucs … or the struggles against the Mighty Pittsburgh Pirates will continue.
Matt Garza makes his official debut Sunday in the rubber game of the series. Clint Hurdle will counter with Ross Ohlendorf.