Down to the Last Strike … Cubs Walk-off the Giants Again – Cubs 5 Giants 2

Game Eighty-Two – Cubs 5 Giants 2 – 13 innings
WP – John Grabow (1-0) LP – Ramon Ramirez (2-1, BS 1) Save – None

wflag.jpgThe Chicago Cubs came from behind not once but twice against the San Francisco Giants’ bullpen on Thursday afternoon and pulled off an improbable walk-off victory … the Cubs second walk-off win over the Giants in as many days.

After Aramis Ramirez tied the game at one in the bottom of the ninth with a solo shot off Brian Wilson, the two teams exchanged punches for three innings but neither one of the pens gave up a run until the 13th inning.

The Cubs bullpen was spectacular Thursday in relief of Carlos Zambrano who left in the second inning with soreness in his lower back. The pen did not allow a hit after the third inning and put together 11 innings of shutout ball.

The Giants finally broke through against John Grabow in the 13th inning. Pablo Sandoval, who recorded the Giants last hit in the third, launched a 1-1 pitch from Grabow into the bleachers and gave the Giants a 2-1 lead.

To the Cubs credit they showed a lot of heart on Thursday … and never quit playing.

After Koyie Hill and Reed Johnson went quickly to start the bottom of the 13th, Jeff Baker fell behind 0-2 … and the Cubs were down to their last strike.

Jeff Baker ripped Ramon Ramirez’s next pitch off the wall in left center. Baker’s two-out, two-strike double gave Darwin Barney a chance to tie the game … and Barney delivered once again.

Darwin Barney singled to left on a 1-2 pitch. Baker rounded third and slid in safe below Cody Ross’ throw … the Giants left fielder airmailed the throw and Barney took second on the play. After an intentional walk to Starlin Castro, Mike Quade went to his bench and sent Geovany Soto up to hit for John Grabow.

Geovany Soto looked a two out of the zone to start the inning. Soto ended up working the count to full before launching a three-run shot into the bleachers in left. Soto’s eighth home run of the season powered the Cubs to the 5-2 win.

All four runs in the 13th came after two outs with two strikes on Baker, Barney and Soto.

Marcos Mateo had is best day as a big leaguer on Thursday. Mateo was really the difference in a game that was billed as a pitcher’s duel between Carlos Zambrano and Matt Cain. Mateo mopped up Zambrano’s mess in the second inning without allowing another run.

Marcos Mateo gave up only two hits in five innings of work. Mateo struck out six without a walk on 56 pitches, 37 for strikes.

Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall and James Russell each threw a scoreless and hitless frame while Carlos Marmol tossed two innings of shutout ball. Marmol and Samardzija each walked a batter, the only two baserunners the Giants had until the 12th inning.

John Grabow worked his way in and out of trouble in the 12th. Grabow walked the bases loaded (one intentional) but did not allow a hit and escaped his first inning of work without allowing a run. Grabow picked up the win after allowing one run on one hit with three walks and a strikeout in two innings.

Carlos Zambrano left in the second inning with lower back soreness. Z received an MRI on his back but is not expected to miss anytime. Z allowed a run on two hits with a pair of walks and a strikeout.

With Thursday’s win, the Cubs improved to 34-48 (11-18 in June), 14 below the mediocre mark, and split the four-game series the Giants (2-2, 3-3 on the season) …

When Carlos Zambrano left the game and with Matt Cain on the hill, the likelihood of the Cubs beating the Giants seemed remote at best but to the Cubs credit they never quit playing.

The Giants scored the first run of the game, the last until the ninth, in the second inning off of Carlos Zambrano.

Z walked Nate Schierholtz on four pitches to start the inning. Brandon Crawford dropped a bunt towards first that Pena fielded and tried to shovel to Zambrano. Z bobbled the ball then tried to throw out Schierholtz at second. The ball ended up in left field and the runners advanced to second and third … with no outs.

Miguel Tejada hit a pop up into shallow right that Barney dropped. It was ruled a hit and a RBI as Schierholtz scored … 1-0 Giants.

With runners on first and third with no outs, Zambrano threw a pitch to Eli Whiteside. Z was in pain, Mark O’Neal came out and Z left the game with an apparent back injury.

Marcos Mateo was summoned from the pen and struck out Whiteside on a 3-2 pitch. Tejada broke for second and was caught in a run down before eventually running out of the baseline (2-6-3). Crawford held at third and was strained when Cain popped out to Castro to end the inning.

Marcos Mateo worked out of a first and third, one out jam in the third after giving up back-to-back singles to Emmanuel Burriss and Pablo Sandoval (the Giants last hit until the 13th). Mateo struck out Pat Burrell and after a wild pitch advanced Sandoval to second, Schierholtz popped out to left to end the inning.

That was it for the Giants until the 12th inning.

The Giants took a 1-0 lead into the ninth and gave the ball to Brian Wilson. Wilson retired Starlin Castro on a groundout to third. Wilson fell behind Aramis Ramirez 3-1. Ramirez showed he did not fear the beard. Ramirez launched Wilson’s 3-1 pitch into the bleachers in left center game tied at one on the first homer allowed by Wilson this season.

Carlos Marmol retired the Giants in order in the 10th on ten pitches and gave the Cubs a chance to win it in the bottom of the 10th.

Tony Campana led off with an infield single and advanced to second on a sac bunt by Koyie Hill. Reed Johnson reached on an infield single. Bruce Bochy went to his pent and brought in Javier Lopez to face Fukudome. Quade countered with Baker but he hit into a 6-4-3 inning ending double play.

Carlos Marmol worked around a two-out walk in the 11th but the Cubs went in order in the bottom of the inning.

John Grabow took over in the 12th and proved once again why he should no longer pitch in close or tied ballgames. Grabow issued back-to-back walks to Cody Ross and Nate Schierholtz. Ross actually advanced to second during Schierholtz’s at bat after Koyie Hill tried to pick Ross off first and the ball ended up in right field.

Brandon Crawford sacrificed Ross and Schierholtz to second and third. Grabow intentionally walked Tejada to load the bases with one out.

Bochy went to his bench and sent up Aubrey Huff to hit for Eli Whiteside. Huff popped up Grabow’s first pitch into shallow right … and Aaron Rowand flied out to center to end the inning.

The Cubs went down in order against Jeremy Affeldt in the bottom of the 12th.

John Grabow gave up the dinger to Pablo Sandoval in the 13th and was the beneficiary of three clutch hits from Jeff Baker, Darwin Barney and Geovany Soto.

Taking two from the Giants after dropping both games of the doubleheader on Tuesday is not bad, not bad at all. Maybe Q’s squad can finally get over that three-game hump …

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The second round of the City Series begins Friday afternoon … Randy Wells against Edwin Jackson in game one of round two with the White Sox.

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon