Game Thirty – Cubs 5 Dodgers 1
WP – Carlos Zambrano (4-1) LP – Ted Lilly (2-3) Save – None
The Cubs completed their seven-game West Coast trip with a win in the series finale against the Dodgers … and finished the two-city trip with a solid 4-3 record. Wednesday marked just the second time all season the Cubs won the final game of a series (2-8).
Carlos Zambrano picked up where Ryan Dempster left off Tuesday night. Z dominated a makeshift Dodgers lineup for eight innings. The Andre Ethier-less Dodgers managed just one run and five hits off Zambrano, while the Cubs offense scored all five of their runs on three big hits.
Geovany Soto ended his huge trip with another extra basehit. Soto put the Cubs on the board in the fifth with the first of three home runs off Ted Lilly. Soto finished the afternoon 1-for-3 with a walk and completed the seven-game trip 6-for-20 with four doubles, two home runs and seven RBI.
After going without a home run for his first 73 at bats of the season, Carlos Pena hit his second home run in as many days. Pena ripped a 1-1 pitch from Ted Lilly well over the wall in right in the sixth. Pena’s second hit of the year off a lefty gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
Marlon Byrd finally hit a round tripper and ended the Cubs string of 10 straight solo home runs with his three-run shot in the sixth.
The Cubs managed nine hits on the afternoon (1-for-3 with RISP, three left on base) and three left the park but Q’s offense struggled running the bases again. The Cubs ran themselves (or in Soriano’s case did not run) out of possible scoring chances. The baserunning mistakes are a concern but Wednesday afternoon they did not cost the team a win.
Wednesday marked the end of 18 straight games for against Western Division teams … the Cubs won eight of the 18 match-ups versus the Rockies, Padres, Dodgers and D’Backs.
With Wednesday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 14-16 on the season … Carlos Zambrano set the tone early in the game and did not allow the Dodgers to plate a run until the sixth. Zambrano threw strikes and stayed ahead in the count for a majority of the afternoon.
The Dodgers recorded single hits in the first two innings (double by Aaron Miles in the first and single by James Loney in the second) but they could not string together any hits and Z did not help them.
The Cubs had chances before they started hitting the ball out of the park against Ted Lilly … but ran (or did not run) the bases properly.
Alfonso Soriano led off the third with a bloop single to left that Tony Gwynn, Jr. lost in the sun. Soriano jogged out of the box and ended up with a single when he should have been at second. Then he tried to tag and advance to second when Carlos Pena flied out to left. Soriano was thrown out … and then heard it form his manager when he returned to the dugout.
Jeff Baker reached on a bloop single to right with one out in the fifth … but he tried to stretch it into a double and was thrown out by Jay Gibbons. Baker’s gaffe happened in front of Soto’s home run … and turned what could have been a two-run shot into a solo homer.
The Cubs lack team speed and must be smarter on the bases than they were Wednesday afternoon.
With the way Zambrano was throwing, he very well could have made Soto’s third home run of the season hold up … but thankfully he did not have to try.
The Cubs scored four of their five runs in the sixth and knocked Ted Lilly out of the game.
Carlos Pena led off the sixth and launched a 1-1 pitch from Lilly over the wall in right. Carlos Zambrano got into the act and singled to left. After Starlin Castro flied out to right, Darwin Barney singled to right and kept the inning going for Marlon Byrd.
Byrd ripped Lilly’s first pitch into the stands in left … and gave the Cubs a commanding 5-0 lead.
Lilly then walked Aramis Ramirez but picked him off as Ramirez broke too early for second base. Jeff Baker struck out swinging to end the inning.
Zambrano gave up his third hit of the game to start the bottom of the sixth. Tony Gwynn, Jr. doubled to right. Aaron Miles then singled to right and the Dodgers had runners on first and third with no outs.
Jay Gibbons flied out to right on a 2-2 pitch. Gwynn tagged and scored … 5-1 Cubs. Z got out of the inning by inducing a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Matt Kemp.
Zambrano issued his only walk of the game in the eighth and allowed only one hit (a single) after Miles’ bloop single in the sixth.
Sean Marshall retired three of the four batters he faced in the ninth to close out Zambrano’s 10th consecutive road win (dating back to August 14, 2010).
It is amazing what good starting pitching can do for a team.
The Cubs have Thursday off before opening a three-game series with the Reds at Wrigley Friday afternoon. Matt Garza versus Edinson Volquez in game one.