Extra! Extra! The Cubs (Finally) Win Three in a Row – Cubs 5 Astros 4

Game One Hundred Two – Cubs 5 Astros 4 – 10 innings
WP – John Grabow (2-0) LP – David Carpenter (0-1) Save – None

wflag.jpgIt took ten tries and 102 games but the Cubs won three games in a row for first time in 2011. Jeff Baker singled in Marlon Byrd with the game winner in the 10th inning to complete the three-game sweep over the Houston Astros.

The two worst teams in baseball played free baseball on Sunday afternoon after the Cubs pen could not preserve a win for Matt Garza. Garza pitched a very good game and for the fifth time this season Quade’s pen could not save a game in which Garza departed with a lead. Sunday was Jeff Samardzija’s turn to blow a would-be-victory for Matt Garza.

Garza was not as sharp as in previous starts but pitched good enough to be awarded with a victory. Garza had an excellent fastball early in the game and mixed his pitches well throughout the afternoon. Garza gave up two runs on five hits with three walks and nine strikeouts (107 pitches, 67 for strikes) in seven innings. Garza (1-for-3) drove in the Cubs third run with a single in the second for the first RBI of his big league career.

Clint Barmes gave the Astros an early lead with Houston’s first extra basehit of the series. Barmes’ solo shot off Garza was just the eighth longball served up by Garza this season and the first since June 27 (Carlos Gonzalez).

The Cubs were trying to avoid using Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood on Sunday so Quade turned to Jeff Samardzija in the eighth. Samardzija issued a leadoff walk to Hunter Pence then served up two-run shot to Carlos Lee. Samardzija only retired one of the four batters he faced and suffered his first blown save of the season. The two runs on Sunday was the first runs allowed by Samardzija in his last 12 appearances and Lee’s homer was the first home run off Samardzija since June 6.

Rodrigo Lopez and Carlos Marmol did a good job of keeping the Astros off the board in the eighth and ninth. Marmol worked around two defensive miscues (one mental mistake and one charged error) without allowing a run.

John Grabow, in what could have been his final game at Wrigley in a Cubs’ uniform, worked around a leadoff single in the 10th without allowing a run and ended up picking up his second victory of the season … both of Grabow’s victories have come in extra innings.

The Cubs scored three of their five runs in the second inning on three doubles and a single by Matt Garza.

Marlon Byrd played the 1000th game of his big league career on Sunday … one he will not soon forget. Byrd tallied four hits in five trips to the plate and scored three of the Cubs five runs, including the tying run in the eighth and the game winner in the 10th. Byrd singled twice, doubled and tripled to start the 10th.

Geovany Soto (3-for-5 with a double, a RBI and a run scored) had a big game Sunday despite striking out in the 10th with Byrd on third and not outs. Darwin Barney (2-for-4 with a double, a walk, a run scored and a RBI) and Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a RBI) drove in the Cubs other two runs.

The Cubs won for the third time on Sundays in 2011 (3-13) and improved to 6-3 in extra inning games this season (5-0 at Wrigley).

With Sunday’s victory, the Cubs finished the 10-game homestand with a 5-5 record and improved to 42-60 on the season, 18 games below .500 …

The Astros came out swinging on Sunday afternoon. Michael Bourn grounded out to second to start the game but Clint Barmes hit a towering homer to left. The ball just kept carrying out to left and landed a couple of rows into the bleachers. The Astros’ first extra basehit of the series gave Houston a 1-0 lead.

Hunter Pence followed Barmes’ homer with a single to left. Carlos Lee popped out to left and Chris Johnson tapped back to Garza to end the inning.

The Cubs recorded two hits off Jordan Lyles in the bottom of the first … but came away empty. Kosuke Fukudome singled to right to start the inning. Starlin Castro then ripped a 1-1 pitch back up the middle, Barmes fielded the ball, stepped on second and completed the 6-3 double play. Aramis Ramirez lined a single into left center but Pena flied out to left center to end the inning.

The Cubs defense stepped up behind Garza in the second. Carlos Pena and Darwin Barney made two fine plays on grounders hit by Brett Wallace and Humberto Quintero. In between the two grounders, Garza struck out Matt Downs. Houston went down in order on just 10 pitches in the second.

Marlon Byrd ignited the Cubs three-run second inning with a double. Byrd smoked a 1-1 pitch into the gap that one-hopped the ivy. Geovany Soto followed with a double to right center on a 1-1 pitch. Byrd scored as Soto’s ball short-hopped the wall. Alfonso Soriano predictably struck out swinging for the first out.

Darwin Barney put together a very good at bat. With the weak hitting Matt Garza on deck and the game tied at one, Barney took three straight out of the zone to start the at bat. After taking a pitcher’s strike, Barney hit Lyles’ next pitch where it was thrown. Barney doubled down the right field line … Soto scored, 2-1 Cubs.

Matt Garza squared to bunt on Lyles’ first pitch … and missed. Garza then hit Lyles next offering past a diving Brett Wallace and down the right field line. Barney scored on the first big league RBI of Garza’s career. Fukudome struck out swinging and Castro flied out to the track in right to end the inning.

Garza labored through a 26-pitch third inning after walking Jordan Lyles to begin the inning. Garza was visibly frustrated after walking the pitcher to start the inning and fell behind Bourn 3-1 before Houston’s leadoff man ripped a singled past a diving Starlin Castro into left center.

With runners on first and second with no outs, Garza appeared to refocus and struck out Clint Barmes swinging. Hunter Pence helped out Garza by popping his first pitch into left center. Carlos Lee worked a walk to load the bases for Chris Johnson.

Garza reached back and struck out Chris Johnson swinging on a 1-2 pitch to end the inning. It took Garza 51 pitches, 30 for strikes, to get through the first three innings on Sunday afternoon.

The Cubs did nothing against Lyles in the bottom of the third.

Alfonso Soriano made a nice running catch into the gap in left center to take away a hit from Brett Wallace to start the fourth. Garza ended up retiring the Astros in order on just 10 pitches in the fourth.

Geovany Soto led off the fourth with a single to left. Soriano struck out swinging on the eighth pitch but Barney tallied his second hit of the game with a single to right over a leaping Matt Downs. Garza bunted a 2-0 offering too hard back to Lyles. Soto was forced at third for the second out of the inning. After Kosuke walked to load the bases, Castro grounded out to Downs up the middle to end the inning. Castro shattered his bat on the 2-1 pitch.

Jordan Lyles reached to start an inning for the second time on the afternoon. Lyles chopped a 2-2 pitch over Garza that Castro tried to pick barehanded. Castro could not field the ball and the opposing pitcher reached again. Michael Bourn followed with another single past a diving Castro into left. A carbon copy of the third inning … but Garza could not escape the fifth without giving up a run.

Barmes bunted a 1-0 pitch to Ramirez … and both Lyles and Bourn advanced into scoring position. Pence hit Garza’s first offering to short. Lyles scored … 3-2 Cubs. Carlos Lee flied out to right to end the inning.

Other than a two-out single by Marlon Byrd, the Cubs did nothing against Lyles in the bottom of the fifth.

Chris Johnson walked on four pitches to start the sixth. Garza then missed on the first two offerings to Wallace (six straight balls). Garza ended up getting the count to 3-2 on Wallace before striking out the Astros’ first baseman swinging. Garza fell behind Downs 2-0 before striking out Downs swinging on 95 MPH fastball. Quintero grounded out to short on the first pitch to end the sixth.

Jordan Lyles retired the Cubs in order in the bottom of the sixth.

Matt Garza ended his afternoon with a 1-2-3 seventh with two more strikeouts.

Starlin Castro reached on a one-out infield single in the bottom of the seventh but Ramirez popped out to first and Pena struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija replaced Garza to start the eighth and returned to his early season form. Samardzija walked Hunter Pence to start the eighth on five pitches.

Carlos Lee launched Samardzija’s first pitch into the bleachers in left … and just like that the Astros took a 4-3 lead on Lee’s 21st career homer at Wrigley Field. After striking out Chris Johnson, Samardzija walked Brett Wallace to end his afternoon.

Rodrigo Lopez took over and Brad Mills sent Jason Bourgeois in to run for Wallace at second. Lopez paid a lot of attention to Bourgeois at nearly picked him off first base twice. The Cubs guessed right on a 1-2 offering to Downs and pitched out. Soto threw a strike to Castro to cut down Bourgeois at second. Lopez struck out Downs to end the inning.

The Cubs battled back and tied the game in the bottom of the eighth against Wilton Lopez.

Marlon Byrd led off the eighth with a single to left on a 1-2 pitch … his third hit of the game. Quade called a hit and run on a 1-0 offering to Soto. Soto ripped the pitch into right field and Byrd advanced to third with no outs.

Alfonso Soriano broke his bat and blooped a single into left on a 0-1 pitch. Bourgeois dove and appeared to catch the ball but it popped out of his glove when he hit the ground. Byrd scored and tied the game at four.

With runners on first and second with no outs, Darwin Barney bunted the ball back to Lopez … who threw to third to force Soto. It was the second time on Sunday Soto was thrown out at third on a sac bunt attempt.

Blake DeWitt hit for Rodrigo Lopez and before the second pitch of the at bat, Quade sent Tony Campana to second to run for Soriano. DeWitt popped out to right and Fukudome struck out swinging to end the inning.

With the game tied at four, Carlos Marmol took the hill in the ninth. Marmol retired Quintero on a tap back to the mound to start the inning. Jose Altuve appeared to ground out to the hole at short but Castro took too much time and the speedy second baseman beat Castro’s throw. Bourn then hit a blooper into left. Campana tried to make a running catch but could not reach the ball and ended up kicking it into the bullpen. Both runners advanced ninety feet on Campana’s error. Marmol missed on his first three pitches to Clint Barmes before issuing ball four intentionally to load the bases with one out.

Carlos Marmol struck out Hunter Pence swinging on three pitches and retired Carlos Lee on a pop out to right center to end the inning.

Starlin Castro led off the bottom of the ninth with a single over a leaping Altuve into right center. Aramis Ramirez lined out to left on a 1-2 pitch. Carlos Pena worked the count to 3-2. Castro took off for second but got a very bad jump. Pena swung and missed and Castro was thrown out easily to end the inning.

The Cubs turned to John Grabow in the 10th. Chris Johnson led off with an infield single that was slowed down by the mound. Bourgeois sacrificed Johnson to second. Jason Michaels pinch-hit for Lopez and Grabow fell behind 3-0 before issuing ball four intentionally. Humberto Quintero hit a 1-0 offering to Barney and the Cubs turned a 4-6-3 inning ending double play.

Marlon Byrd led off the bottom of the 10th with his fourth hit of the game. Pence lost the ball in the sun and Byrd ended up at third with a triple. Brad Mills brought his infield and outfield in and went after Soto.

Geovany Soto looked at a 2-2 pitch for the first out of the inning.

The Astros intentionally walked Tony Campana. After Campana stole second on the first pitch to Barney, David Carpenter intentionally walked Barney to load the bases with one out.

Jeff Baker hit for Grabow and ended up working a full count. Baker ripped Carpenter’s next pitch into left. Byrd trotted home with the game winner and the team, with the exception of Matt Garza, celebrated near the mound.

Three wins in a row …

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs have Monday off before opening a three game series in Milwaukee on Tuesday. Ryan Dempster against Chris Narveson in game one under the lights at Miller Park.

Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth