Game Thirty-Five – Cubs 11 Cardinals 4
WP – Matt Garza (2-4) LP – Jake Westbrook (2-3) Save – None
Matt Garza picked up his first win at Wrigley after a 53-minute rain delay woke up the Cubs’ offense. The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third on an infield single by Ryan Theriot. Colby Rasmus hit a rocket to Carlos Pena that he snared and touched first to double up Theriot. Soon after the inning ending double play, the skies opened and delayed the game.
When play resumed, the Cubs put together a six-run inning, their largest single-inning output since last September, highlighted by Carlos Pena’s two-run double … the Cubs first extra basehit of the series. Pena’s double ended the Cubs’ string of 17 straight singles and appeared to loosen up the team. Carlos Pena (2-for-3 with two runs scored, a walk, a double and two RBI) had a good night and was involved in two plays that changed the game.
Starlin Castro kept hitting Wednesday night and was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with a triple, three runs scored and three RBI. Castro also shined in the field but made a mental mistake in the seventh that led to three runs.
Marlon Byrd extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a pair of singles. The Cubs tied a season-high with 17 hits and all of the starters recorded at least one base knock. Koyie Hill (2-for-4 with a double, a triple, a run scored and a RBI), Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI) and Aramis Ramirez (2-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI) each helped put the game away before the sixth inning.
The Cubs finished the game 7-for-13 with RISP and left five on base.
Matt Garza was very good in the first two innings and escaped the third after allowing just the one run. Garza returned after the delay and completed two more innings to qualify for the win. Garza threw 44 of his 85 pitches (50 for strikes) prior to the delay and ended up allowing one run on three hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in five innings. Garza’s velocity was good following the nearly hour and twenty minutes in between pitches.
Q’s squad still struggled with the fundamentals of the game. Alfonso Soriano committed another error and two runners were thrown out at home plate.
With Wednesday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 16-19 on the season …
Carlos Pena worked a walk, his team leading 19th free pass of the season. Starlin Castro singled to center on a 2-2 pitch. Ivan DeJesus waived Ramirez in, who paused slightly around third. Rasmus charged and made a strong throw to the plate, but it was up the first base line. Gerald Laird had time to catch the ball then make a lunging tag back toward homeplate. Ramirez was tagged on the hand before he could reach the plate.
Alfonso Soriano popped out weakly to right on a 3-1 pitch and Koyie Hill predictably grounded out to first on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.
The bottom of the Cardinals lineup did more damage Wednesday night and scored the first run of the game. Garza struggled with his command in the third. Nick Punto hit a ground rule double to right to start the inning … the second ball on the homestand that hit the warning track and bounced into the bleachers. After Punto’s ball hopped over the 15-foot wall, Garza walked Daniel Descalso.
Jake Westbrook dropped down a bunt toward third. Aramis Ramirez took his sweet time getting to the ball and Westbrook almost beat the throw. Punto and Descalso advanced on the play.
Ryan Theriot hit a 0-1 pitch back up the middle that went off Garza’s glove to Castro. Theriot reached on the infield single … and Punto scored the first run of the game. Colby Rasmus lined out to Carlos Pena on a 1-1 offering. Pena snagged the smoked ball and touched first to complete the double play.
The rains came right after the unassisted double play ended the top of the third.
Following a 53-minute rain delay, the Cubs came out swinging and scored six runs in the bottom of the third. Matt Garza led off the inning by striking out. Kosuke Fukudome singled to center and advanced to second on a single to right by Darwin Barney.
Jake Westbrook hit Marlon Byrd to load the bases.
Aramis Ramirez singled to left on a 1-0 pitch and drove in Kosuke with the tying run.
Carlos Pena recorded the Cubs first extra basehit of the game, and of the series, a double to left center on the first pitch from Westbrook. Barney and Byrd scored, gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead and chased Westbrook from the game.
Jason Motte took over and gave up a single to center to Starlin Castro. Ramirez and Pena scored easily after the ball bounced past Colby Rasmus. Castro ended up at third and scored when Soriano singled to center on a 1-2 pitch from Motte.
Koyie Hill struck out swinging for the second out … and Garza struck out for the second time in the inning to end the third. The Cubs sent 10 to the plate, scored six times and recorded an extra base hit … all in the same inning.
Matt Garza got through the top of the fifth and qualified for the win before the Cubs blew the game open.
Carlos Pena led off with a single to right. Starlin Castro followed with a triple to right center. Pena scored the Cubs’ seventh run of the game.
Alfonso Soriano blooped a single into center on Ryan Franklin’s first pitch. Castro scored and Soriano scored on a triple to right off the bat of Koyie Hill … Lance Berkman dove and tried to make a spectacular catch, but missed and the ball rolled all the way to the wall. Hill’s fourth career triple gave the Cubs a 9-1 advantage. Tyler Colvin made a rare appearance and pinch hit for Matt Garza. Colvin had a decent at bat but looks lost at the plate. Colvin grounded out to short on a 3-2 pitch. Hill scored … 10-1 Cubs.
Kosuke Fukudome struck out and Darwin Barney flied out to right to end the fifth.
Jeff Samardzija took over in the sixth and retired the Cardinals in order.
A mental mistake by Starlin Castro led to a big inning for the Redbirds in the seventh. Samardzija struggled with his command in his second inning of work. Gerald Laird doubled to left and Nick Punto walked on four pitches. Samardzija retired Descalso on a fly out to right center and pinch hitter Mark Hamilton on a pop out to left. Castro saved a run by keeping a sure single to left by Theriot on the infield.
With the bases loaded and two out, Colby Rasmus hit a weak grounder to short. Castro looked at second realized he could not throw out Theriot and tried to get the out at first. Rasmus beat the throw and Laird scored the Cardinals’ second run.
Albert Pujols stepped in and ripped a 2-0 single into left center. Punto and Theriot scored … 10-4 Cubs and Samardzija was lifted in favor of Justin Berg. Berg struck out Allen Craig to end the inning.
The Cubs got one of the three runs right back in the bottom of the seventh. Starlin Castro reached on a single to center to start the inning … his fourth hit of the game. Koyie Hill doubled to left on the first pitch from Mitchell Boggs. Castro scored the Cubs 11th run of the game.
Tyler Colvin struck out and Justin Berg grounded out to end the inning.
Sean Marshall had trouble throwing strikes in the ninth. Marshall gave up a pair of hits and walked a batter but a well-timed double play kept the Cardinals off the board.
It is always a good day when the Cubs beat the Cardinals … no matter how long it takes.
Casey Coleman will face Jaime Garcia in the series finale Thursday afternoon.