Game Fifty-One – Cubs 3 Pirates 2
WP – Ryan Dempster (4-4) LP – Jeff Karstens (3-4) Save – Carlos Marmol (10)
The Cubs season-long Sunday losing streak finally came to an end (1-7) after rain delayed the start of the game two hours and 34 minutes … it only took two hours and 36 minutes for the Cubs and Pirates to play the finale of the three game series.
The game started the way Saturday’s ended with the Pirates scoring runs and the Cubs swinging away at the plate. The Pirates scored two runs on a two-out double by Lyle Overbay in the first and Jeff Karstens faced the minimum in the bottom of the first on eight pitches.
Aramis Ramirez (1-for-3 with a home run) led off the second by lining the first pitch from Karstens into the first row of the bleachers in left. Ramirez’s first homer since April 6 ended a streak of 155 at bats without a longball and appeared to loosen up his teammates. Carlos Pena (1-for-3 with a run scored) followed with a single and scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly to right off the bat of Koyie Hill.
The Cubs took the lead in the third after a leadoff double by Kosuke Fukudome (2-for-4 with a run scored). Darwin Barney (2-for-3 with a sac bunt, 21st multi-hit game) sacrificed Fukudome to third and Starlin Castro drove in the eventual winning run with a sacrifice fly to right.
The Cubs actually manufactured two of their three runs on Sunday afternoon
After a shaky start, Ryan Dempster settled down somewhat and put together a quality start. Dempster labored through six innings of work and allowed two runs on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts, both runs scored with two outs in the first inning. Dempster retired the Pirates in order once and threw 105 pitches, 64 for strikes.
Ryan Dempster won his third straight home start and evened his record at 4-4 on the season.
Kerry Wood worked a scoreless seventh and threw 21 pitches, 11 for strikes. Sean Marshall put together one of the two three-up, three-down innings in the eighth. Marshall sat down the heart of the Pirates order on six pitches.
Carlos Marmol took the hill in the ninth for just his second save opportunity since May 2. Marmol issued a one-out walk to Chris Snyder but after a sensational play by Starlin Castro on a dribbler past the mound to nail Brandon Wood at first, Marmol struck out Ronny Cedeno on three pitches to end the game.
With Sunday’s win, the Cubs improved to 23-28 on the season, five games below the mediocre mark. Q’s squad is 2-4 against the Pirates in 2011 and 3-3 on the current nine-game homestand … Ryan Dempster retired Jose Tabata and Garrett Jones quickly to start the game. Dempster looked sharp but appeared to lose his rhythm after slipping and falling on the mound on a 1-2 pitch to Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen ended up walking and so did Neil Walker … on four pitches.
Dempster fell behind Lyle Overbay 2-0 (seven straight out of the strike zone) before laying one in that cost him two runs. Overbay ripped a double into right. McCutchen and Walked scored … 2-0 Pirates. Ryan Doumit grounded out to second on a 2-1 pitch to end the inning.
Dempster threw 25 pitches in the first, 11 for strikes.
The Cubs offense was extremely aggressive in the first inning. Darwin Barney singled to right center but was erased on a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Starlin Castro. After allowing Paul Maholm to throw only 91 pitches Saturday afternoon, Jeff Karstens faced the minimum and threw only eight pitches, all for strikes, in the first.
Dempster retired the Pirates in order in the top of the second.
Aramis Ramirez started the second by lining the first pitch from Jeff Karstens into the first row of the bleachers in left. Ramirez cut the Pirates lead in half with his second home run of the season … first since April 6.
Carlos Pena followed with a single to right on a 2-0 pitch. Alfonso Soriano showed rare patience, worked the count to 3-1 and ended up flying out to right. Tony Campana followed with an infield single to Ronny Cedeno. Quade called for the hit and run, Cedeno had to try to go back and get the ball. Cedeno’s throw was late and got away from Overbay. Pena ended up at third with one down.
Koyie Hill got just enough of a 2-1 pitch to hit it out into medium depth right center. Pena tagged and scored just ahead the throw from Garrett Jones. Pena actually slid in and through Ryan Doumit’s left leg and the Pirates’ catcher had to leave the game.
With the game tied at two, Ryan Dempster struck out looking to end the inning.
After Dempster worked around a two-out single by Andrew McCutchen in the top of the third without allowing any runs, the Cubs manufactured a run in the bottom of the inning.
Kosuke Fukudome worked the count to 3-2 before ripping a double to right on the ninth pitch of the at bat. Darwin Barney dropped a bunt up the first base line. Karstens fielded and tagged Barney out as Fukudome advanced to third.
Starlin Castro lined the first pitch he saw into right … and Fukudome tagged and scored, 3-2 Cubs. The first lead of the weekend for Q’s squad.
Dempster faced the minimum in the top of the fourth and the Cubs did nothing against Jeff Karstens in the home half.
The Pirates help bail Dempster out of a possible jam in the top of the fifth. Dempster retired Ronny Cedeno on a foul out to Pena. Karstens worked the count to 3-2 before grounding out to first. Jose Tabata ripped Dempster’s first pitch into center to keep the inning going for the heart of the order.
Dempster fell behind Garrett Jones 3-0. Tabata took off for second on Dempster’s next pitch. The inside offering was called a strike as Hill threw to second. Castro caught the ball and tagged Tabata as he slid into the bag. Tabata was called out, inning over.
The Cubs put two on with two out in the bottom of the fifth. Dempster singled to left with one out and was forced at second when Fukudome hit a grounder to Walker. Kosuke beat the throw and advanced to second on a single to right by Darwin Barney. Castro swung at the first pitch and grounded out to third to end the inning (Wood, unassisted).
Ryan Dempster survived the sixth and turned the game over to Kerry Wood.
Kerry Wood took over Dempster in the seventh. Wood was not sharp and worked his way in and out of a jam. Sunday ended up being only the third time in his last nine appearances that he has not allowed a run or an inherited run to score.
Chris Snyder greeted Wood with a single to center on Wood’s first pitch … the ninth time in last 10 appearances that Wood has allowed at least one hit. Brandon Wood tried to bunt Snyder to second but popped up to a diving Koyie Hill in foul ground for the first out. Ronny Cedeno flied out to center but Wood walked pinch-hitter Xavier Paul on five pitches.
Jose Tabata worked the count to 3-2 then flied out to deep center to end the inning.
Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol made the slim one-run lead hold up in the eighth and ninth.
After a horrible game on Saturday and a bad start to Sunday’s finale against the Pirates, it was good to see the Cubs battle back and hang on for a win.
The Cubs and Astros kick off a three-game series on Memorial Day. Rodrigo Lopez, in his Cubs debut, will face Aneury Rodriguez.